Whatever your budget, nothing beats a long, leisurely lunch on a rainy day – and, fortunately, London has both rain and restaurants in spades.
Restaurant, Contemporary, British
Food that’s “thoughtful but not showy”, and a wine list “that ranges from the classics to the crazy”, are what the team behind Michelin-starred Leroy pride themselves on according to its website. There’s a vibrancy to Leroy that more pedestrian upmarket options do their best to avoid. Here though, it really works. First-class friendly service and a busy open kitchen create a convivial atmosphere – and with a lunch set menu that starts at £19 per head, it’s more accessible than most fine-dining options this side of town. Recommended by local insider Chiara Miele
Jason Atherton’s pièce de résistance Pollen Street Social is slick and smart, giving you full-on Michelin vibes from the moment you walk in the door. Buzzy, shiny and well-lit, it’s everything you expect a restaurant serving innovative, delicious food to be. Lunch is a great deal, with three courses for £37. Go for a pudding and have it at the dessert bar, where the pastry chefs will whip it up before your very eyes – so you’re getting an experience for your money as well as what’s on your plate.
Paying homage to the old Irani cafes in Bombay, Dishoom takes its rightful place on the list of the West End’s top restaurants thanks to its eclectic and exotic menu. Open for lunch, dinner, tea and brunch, any one of Dishoom’s multiple locations is the perfect place to develop your taste buds and be transported to India through the West End, it’s a must try.
A stunning rooftop venue, Aqua Nueva is one of the West End’s top spots for Spanish cuisine. The restaurant offers a set lunch menu, an À la Carte, dessert menu, a bar and a Sobremesa Sunday menu. The venue invites people with a variety of tastes to try out its creations. Available to hire for events holding up to 400 standing, the restaurant prides itself on being open for a number of different uses to the London social and culinary scene.
Launched in 2004, 222 is perhaps one of London’s longest standing vegan restaurants. Its leafy West London location is well suited to its concept; one that draws from natural, raw ingredients in an environmentally friendly manner. Pop in for lunch and stock up at their salad bar if you’re on the run or take the time to dine in – it’s an unpretentious environment with taste and quality at its core.
Bar, Restaurant, European, Contemporary, British, $$$
As a social working space with a bar and restaurant, Forge & Co is the perfect place for a working lunch. The food offering, created by chef Timothy Brindley who has spent time at The Ivy, is modern British but served in a casual fashion. There are salads, sandwiches and burgers for the times you can’t take a long break or more substantial grill dishes, like spatchcock poussin with spring greens and ribeye steak and fries, for the times when you can linger over your emails.
Pizzeria, Restaurant, Food Stall, Italian, American
Voodoo Ray's | Courtesy of Voodoo Ray's
There are plenty of places to grab lunch at pop-up hub Boxpark but Voodoo Ray’s, one of the mainstays, is a real winner. You can get proper NY-style pizza by the slice (and they are big slices) with a salad and a drink as part of their lunch deal or an entire 22” pie if you happen to have your whole office in tow.
The first Yalla Yalla, in Green’s Court, Soho, was opened in late 2008 by Chef Jad Youssef and his partner Aga Ilska. Beirut-born Jad met Aga, who is Polish, while the two worked in a central London Lebanese restaurant, she ran the front-of-house while he was in the kitchen. The food is to die for if you’re a fan of Middle Eastern cuisine, and is certain to make you a convert even if you’re not.
Bocca di Lupo were one of the first in the wave of Soho restaurants that sought to change the local dining scene. Chef Jacob Kennedy’s take on classic Italian regional cuisine is like the Silver Spoon cookbook brought to life, with the stripped down simple food served in buzzy, glamorous surroundings.
If you’re feeling Thai food for lunch, Busaba is the perfect spot. With several London locations, you’ll often be close to a branch, and the restaurant’s mouth-watering menu won’t break the bank either. Choose from a wide range of noodle- and rice-based dishes, stir-fries and curries, including Thai classics such as green chicken curry, tom yum goong and pad thai. But whatever you do, don’t miss out on Busaba’s incredible crispy spiced calamari, which is possibly the best appetiser in town.
This Swedish café serves up breakfast, brunch and lunch featuring home cooked recipes passed down through generations. The menu has typical breakfast options like scrambled eggs on sourdough with a sprinkling of chives, granola with yoghurt and berries and oatmeal porridge. There are some interesting open sandwiches like boiled egg with herrings on rye or meatballs with pickled cucumber and beetroot on sourdough. From 11am onwards you can opt for their famous hot meatballs and mash, eggs with Swedish sausage or salmon fish pie. Do try one of their in-house baked cinnamon buns which are absolutely delicious.
If Regent’s Park is on the itinerary, stop at Lantana for a little bit of Australia in the heart of London. This family-run cafe, situated just off a pedestrianised lane in trendy Fitzrovia, maintains the Aussie reputation for fresh and innovative morning bites. A favourite among Fitzrovia’s office workers for its fast weekday takeaway service through the ‘OUT’ door, Lantana also accommodates more leisurely diners through its ‘IN’ door, which is open every day. A slice of banoffee bread paired with a flat white provides the perfect energy boost for a day of exploring, while corn fritters topped with bacon can sop up the previous evening’s debauchery. Though breakfast is only served until 11.30am in the week, afternoon visitors can enjoy lunch until 3.30pm and weekend brunch is served until 4pm. All menus include delicious vegan and vegetarian options, making Lantana a great option for mixed dining groups.
Scrumptious cakes at Honey & Co | Courtesy of Heloise Faure
Honey and Co is one of those places you wish would open in your neighbourhood. The embodiment of charming, it’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Every bite you take here is quietly amazing. The menu is fresh and changes frequently but riffs on a theme of Middle Eastern. There are lots of vegetables, interesting spices and yoghurt. The vibe is super-friendly and relaxed, while still being celebratory. Definitely order the sharing platter of starters and always leave room for the feta and honey cheesecake, which is served on a bed of deep-fried pastry soaked in honey.
Farmstand is all about healthy and sustainable food, that means everything is sourced from UK suppliers and the food is dairy, gluten and added sugar-free. Whether you follow a healthy diet or not, the food at Farmstand also tastes great and makes for a perfect workday lunch. You can build your own salad from protein choices like salmon with miso, harissa chicken or red lentil coconut dhal and add two sides from the colourful veggie selection. If you’re not in a hurry to get back to our desk they have spaces to sit in too.
Bored of salads and sandwiches for lunch? Spice things up with a trip to Jamaica Patty Co. You can pick up proper Jamaican patties baked fresh in-store, curried goat and jerk chicken if you fancy something a little more substantial and Tortuga Rum Cake imported from Montego Bay. Be sure to pick up a juice too, as Jamaica Patty Co. is one of only a few places in the country to sell fresh soursop juice.