British food is the laughing stock of Europe no longer, thanks to exemplary chefs who are rejuvenating the classics of Britain’s culinary history. Here we list the 11 of the best British restaurants in London for you to get your teeth stuck into.
This British restaurant was awarded the prestigious title of London’s Best Pie in 2015 by TimeOut, Battersea Pie Station isn’t only commendable for its punny name. Located right in the heart of Covent Garden, and serving up free-range British meat and fresh vegetables encased in old-fashioned pie crust, it’s hard to believe that Battersea Pie Station was only founded in 2007. From meat pies to sweet pies, the only thing that can make these better is washing them down with one of the Station’s Weekly Guest Beers. Providing predictable pies with ever-changing twists, Battersea Pie Station ensures that their menu never feels stale and crusty.
Poppie’s commitment to sustainable sourcing, from its fresh fish to its jellied eels, makes eating fish and chips feel a little more virtuous. Fish comes from Billingsgate Fish Market, adding an extra layer of history to a place that still serves its takeaways in old-fashioned newspaper. Though traditional in its style, Poppie’s goes beyond the expected cod, and offers mackerel, lemon sole, scampi, cod roe, and homemade fishcakes, all alongside perfectly crispy-exterior, fluffy-interior chips. A simple but scrumptious dessert menu, featuring caramel sticky toffee pudding, apple pie, and ice cream is testament to Poppie’s devotion to quality and classic British food.
A London icon which has gone from strength to strength in recent years, St John was the brainchild of Fergus Henderson, and Trevor Gulliver. They opened the original restaurant on the premises of a former bacon smoke-house in 1994. It pioneered the nose-to-tail eating which has since become a key component of the recent British food renaissance. It remains one of the best places for a meaty meal, with dishes such as grilled ox heart, and lentils and kale appealing to the particularly carnivorous London diner. The original Smithfield restaurant has since been joined by St. John Bread and Wine in Spitalfields.
Gastropubs are a dime a dozen in London these days, particularly in the western enclave of Fulham, where gourmet scotch eggs are practically de rigueur. Few do it as effectively and deliciously as the Harwood Arms however, which elevates posh pub grub to new gastronomic heights. It prides itself on provenance above all, and every dish tells a story. The focus on game and wild food harkens back to an earlier era in British gastronomy with incredible dishes like Berkshire pheasant for two with truffle creamed potato, root vegetables and wild mushrooms. It is currently the only Michelin-starred pub in London, and an essential visit for anyone who wants to experience traditional British food as it should be prepared.
A gastropub with real flair, Malt House takes on the British classics with gusto. It is set in an 18th-century building and the period touches add to the transportive dining experience, which takes you back to a former era in British gastronomy. The food is determinedly seasonal fare, featuring dishes like Rhug Estate venison, celeriac taggliatelle, pink fir potato and chocolate and orange jus. These high-class takes on the British larder will amaze anyone who thought British food began and ended with fish and chips.
One of the first gastropubs to emerge on the London scene, The Anchor & Hope stands out among the masses for its workers lunch menu of roast, marinated peppers and anchovies, Sautéed lamb’s liver, lentils and green sauce, and a little lemon pot casis and shortbread, as well as for its mixture of hearty British like the roast rump of Longhorn beef, dripping potatoes, watercress and horseradish, with dashes of multiculturalism in the form of spiced lentils, chickpeas, spinach and labneh. Their drinks menu is fabulous, as is the artwork adorning the walls. It adds a pop of colour and modernity to this otherwise gloriously old-fashioned setting.
Established in 1798 by Thomas Rule, Rules is the oldest restaurant in London. One of its wood paneled dining rooms is dedicated to novelist Graham Greene, who used the restaurant as the backdrop for two dramatic rendezvous between adulterous couple Bendrix and Sarah in his wartime novel The End of the Affair.(1951) Serving traditional British food, this restaurant is fittingly decorated with red leather chairs, framed portraits, floral arrangements and a leaf printed red and gold carpet.
The ultra hip Ace Hotel is emblematic of Shoreditch’s transformation into London’s cutting edge, hipper-than-thou heartland, complete with an ever-changing roster of cocktail bars, street food stalls and pop-up culinary creations. The hotel’s restaurant Hoi Polloi is thus a perfect fit within Shoreditch’s culinary spectrum. It specialises in revitalising British classics, putting a Shoreditch spin on culinary history. So cured salmon comes with beetroot, cucumber and smoked yogurt, while duck is served with an intriguing combination of spelt, wild garlic, beetroot, pinenuts. This modern rejuvenation of the best of British makes Hoi Polloi one of the most exciting restaurants in London, and the perfect expression of Shoreditch’s culinary creativity.
This is a vintage art deco workers’ cafe which has offered the full English breakfast and Italian classics since 1900. This East End institution is Grade-II listed and is worth a visit just for the beautiful preserved decor and often raucous atmosphere. The food is also a throwback to the sort of hearty greasy spoon dishes that once powered the East End, so expect immense fry ups, stomach bulging pies and first-class fish and chips. The Italian influence can be found in E Pellicciregular assortment of pasta dishes and in the jovial attitude of the proprietors. It is still in the hands of the same family who opened it in 1900. That commitment to tradition and family is evident in every element of this wonderful caf, which represents an authentic slice of London’s culinary history.
This is mother of all steakhouses – nobody does British beef like Hawksmoor. With “dictionary-thick steaks” sourced from only the finest of this country’s cattle, Hawksmoor reigns supreme. Though they offer perfectly executed fish and chicken options, nothing really compares to their steak. Served alongside beef dripping chips, onion rings, mash, baked sweet potatoes, creamed spinach, or even mac and cheese, these steaks are seriously succulent, and embody the meaning of indulgence. Those feeling particularly brave/reckless with their cholesterol can opt for one of the Meat Feasts – but only if they call in 48 hours prior to arrange the delightfully titled, tongue-to-tail, ‘seven-course tour of a cow’.
Located in Hampstead, arguably London’s most quaint and village-like neighbourhoods, is The Bull & Last. This place combines historic charm and food, such as wild game terrine, English damsons, pickles and toast, and the full bull English breakfast with updated, international delicacies like crispy buttermilk chicken with aioli, sweetcorn fritters with smashed avocado, crispy bacon, and tomatoes. There is also buttermilk pancakes, with blueberries, maple syrup, and creme fraiche. Seasonal selections allow for a truly fresh dining experience, which is topped off with the perfect top up; no British pub would be complete without a comprehensive alcohol menu. The Bull & Last’s vast array does not disappoint. British ales and ciders, French cognacs, and Scottish and American whiskies complete this cozy gastropub.