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 the area, from French-Japanese fusions to classic Italian, with London’s oldest Polish restaurant here, too. Read on for our best picks.
Restaurant, Mediterranean, $$$
This Eastern Mediterranean spot specialises in street food style snacks as well as wholesome Turkish cuisine and sharing platters. The menu is light on dairy and gluten produce, making it friendly for most dietary requirements, and there are loads of vegan options, too. Meat-eaters can enjoy the likes of slow-roasted lamb shoulder which is marinated in a secret 12-spice blend and served with pomegranate, fresh mint and pistachio sauce. If you’re making a daytime stop, you can enjoy the brunch menu at weekends, or the lunch selection during the week. There is also an extensive wine selection, so you can relax with a glass at the end of a hectic day. Cocktails are also on offer; expect fresh, exotic flavour combinations.
Wright Brothers South Kensington
Restaurant, Seafood, Vegetarian, $$$
Though there’s no lobster cage to sit in at the South Kensington offering from the Wright Brothers, there is some kind of greater force keeping diners inside. It may be the £1 oyster happy hour, which actually last 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 the seafood specialists have to offer.
Restaurant, Polish, $$$
This beloved Polish dining room
opened in 1947, making it the oldest in London. It’s changed from being a haunt for nostalgic Polish expats to one of the area’s most popular restaurants, serving up homely, hearty cooking at extremely reasonable prices in a romantic, authentically tatty-around-the-edges setting. Daquise has a fascinating history; it was a favourite of Cold War-era personalities such as Christine Keeler, it was the unofficial headquarters for exiled Polish president Edward Raczynski, and Roman Polanski ate here daily when he was filming Repulsion
Restaurant, Italian, Steakhouse, $$$
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 the 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.
Town House Kensington
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.
Restaurant, French, British
Positioned in the iconic Michelin building, Bibendum’s setting is as good as its food. The décor 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 last year and 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 go for.
Cambio de Tercio
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 fighter 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.