Some of London’s finest cultural institutions can be found in South Kensington, also known as the museum district of the city. Whether you spend the day learning about all walks of life at the Natural History Museum or joining in with some experimental fun at the Science Museum, after a day on your feet, you’ll be ready for dinner. Luckily, there are some fantastic restaurants in South Kensington, from steakhouses to classic Italian, with London’s oldest Polish eatery here, too.
CERU serves up first-class Eastern Mediterranean street food
This Eastern Mediterranean spot specialises in street food style snacks as well as wholesome Turkish cuisine and sharing platters. The menu is light on dairy and gluten produce, making it friendly for most dietary requirements, and there are loads of vegan options, too. Meat eaters can enjoy the likes of slow-roasted lamb shoulder, which is marinated in a secret 12-spice blend and served with pomegranate, fresh mint and pistachio sauce. If you’re making a daytime stop, you can enjoy the brunch menu at weekends, or the lunch selection during the week. There is also an extensive wine selection, so you can relax with a glass at the end of a hectic day. Cocktails are also on offer; expect fresh, exotic flavour combinations.
Though there’s no lobster cage to sit in at the South Kensington offering from the Wright Brothers (unlike its Soho counterpart), there is some kind of greater force keeping diners inside. It may be the £1 oyster happy hour, which actually lasts for three hours, from 3pm to 6pm daily. Or it could be the call of The Mermaid Bar downstairs, which is a great place to move on to after you’ve eaten all that the seafood specialists have to offer.
Sample Polish cuisine in historic surroundings at Daquise Restaurant
Restaurant, Polish, $$$
This beloved Polish dining room opened in 1947, making it the oldest in London. It’s changed from being a haunt for nostalgic Polish expats to one of the area’s most popular restaurants, serving up homely, hearty cooking at extremely reasonable prices in a romantic, tatty-around-the-edges setting. Daquise has a fascinating history. Not only was it a favourite of Cold War-era personalities such as model Christine Keeler, but it was also the unofficial headquarters for exiled Polish president Edward Raczyński.
Vegetarians will be staying clear of this Italian steakhouse, the frontage of which is filled with great big hunks of dry-ageing meat dangling on hooks. An appropriately coloured red sofa sits on the other side of the window, making a perfect spot for a macabre photo op while you wait for your table. Dinner here is a no-nonsense affair. Choose a cut of meat from the butchery counter, watch your chef hack it up and grill it with a heavy dose of theatrical flair, and tuck into the best steak of your life.
This exclusive restaurant in a hotel setting serves meals around the clock, with breakfast and afternoon tea nestled in around lunch and dinner. The seasonal menu is curated with fresh produce, and the wine list is set to match each dish. Executive chef Adi Mandokhot hopes to include something to satisfy all diners who visit, with a varied selection of dishes available. Designed by Alexander Waterworth Interiors, this elegant and charming spot is favoured among locals, and keeps a healthy turnover of new guests coming in all year round.
Positioned in the iconic Michelin building, Bibendum’s setting is as good as its food. The decor is formal as well as bright, with beautiful stained glass in one of the many windows. From 1987, the restaurant has set the standard for great dining experiences in the area. Hibiscus chef Claude Bosi joined a few years ago, and he has been creating fresh fine-dining options, alongside the restaurant’s oyster bar. You can expect to find rabbit, veal and duck on the menu served in a way that blends French and English cuisine subtly to great effect. For first-timers here, the set menus are a good option to try.
Experience Cambio de Tercio’s playful take on Spanish tapas
Restaurant, Spanish, $$$
A favourite spot of tennis ace Rafael Nadal, Cambio de Tercio offers a modern, inventive and playful take on Spanish tapas (cambio de tercio is a bullfighting move in which the matador dramatically changes direction). The food is served in vibrant surroundings: the restaurant is painted in fiery sunset colours and adorned with plenty of eclectic, 20th-century Spanish artworks. It’s regularly billed as the best Spanish restaurant in London.