Ten restaurant brands in London for an enjoyable meal that won’t break the bank
Long gone are the days when every high street featured the same restaurants the UK over: Strada, Prezzo, Côte, Pizza Express, Zizzi (the list goes on). While initially this helped bring better food to a country where restaurants didn’t quite reach the heights of continental Europe, nearly ten years ago Britain turned a corner, and many big chains became a symbol of quantity over quality. However, there are still groups of restaurants that maintain high standards even across an increasing number of branches. Here are ten of our favourite brands who bring that personal touch to every site.
Visit the streets of Bombay with a meal at Dishoom
The new-look Dishoom Covent Garden is now open, warmly welcoming guests to visit the new restaurant at its old home on Upper St Martin’s Lane. The restaurant is open daily, providing patrons with everything from breakfast and mid-morning chai, to lunch and afternoon tipples, right through to evening feasts and late-night snacks, served across both floors of the café, in the restaurant’s Permit Room bar and on the terrace. The restaurant pays loving homage to the Irani cafés of Bombay, whilst also telling the story of Bombay’s theatrical journey from Parsi theatre to silent film and the thrill and amazement of the Talkies era. All other Dishoom cafés in the capital (Kensington, Shoreditch, King’s Cross, Carnaby) are also open for indoor dining and walk-ins. Book a table here.
Get your authentic Italian fix at Pastaio
Within the vibrant setting of Soho and the bustle of Shepherd’s Bush, there’s a spot where fresh British produce meets lush Italian flavours. The menu at Pastaio is simple: pasta in all shapes and combinations. The risk here is not getting bored of it, but rather not being able to satisfy the curiosity of trying every type in one go. A must are the malloreddus – or Sardinian gnocchi – with slow-cooked sausage ragù, featuring both a kick from the chilli and a crunchy element from the breadcrumbs. On the opposite side of the spectrum, the rose veal “Bolognese ragù” tagliatelle provides comforting elongated bites. The starters create another tough decision, but highlights are the dry-aged, sustainably farmed bluefin tuna carpaccio – which melts in the mouth – and the unmissable classic mozzarella. Desserts include the ever-present tiramisu and a chocolate tart with orange zest. It’s an easy foodie trip to Italy without leaving London. Book a table here.
Tuck into the best French free-range Chicken at Cocotte
Located at four sites across London (Shoreditch, Parson’s Green, Queen’s Park and Notting Hill) Cocotte offers farm-to-table rotisserie chicken alongside a variety of mouth-watering sides. Their Shoreditch venue sits in the Heart of Hoxton Square, making their terrace the perfect place to enjoy a meal in the sun. You can expect perfectly marinated and sustainable sourced chicken that falls off the bone with delicious accompaniments such as creamy truffled mac ‘n’ cheese, truffle mash, ratatouille and Caesar salad. You can also choose from a selection of sauces including their famous gravy, tarragon mustard and truffle mayo. If you’re looking for honest and comforting food then a trip to Cocotte is well worth your while. All four sites have al fresco tables available. Book a table here.
Enjoy a seasonal Mexican fiesta at Wahaca
Asparagus season is upon us and this month sees the spring vegetable appear on Wahaca’s menu for the first time in a dish that’s packed with seasonal goodness. The new Chargrilled Asparagus Tacos combine tender and slightly caramelised stems with a sprinkling of toasted pumpkin seeds and the new cricket salsa – or for veggie diners, a citrusy habanero mayo. True to Wahaca’s sustainable principles, the dish will only remain on the menu for the six-week asparagus season, so don’t miss out. Wahaca has outdoor seating available at their sites in Stratford, The Southbank, Wimbledon and Canary Wharf, but there are ten sites in across London so there’s guaranteed to be somewhere nearby to satisfy your tostada cravings. Book a table here.
Take a Middle Eastern expedition at Ottolenghi
This June, Yotam Ottolenghi is opening a brand new deli on Marylebone Lane, the team’s most central deli location yet and the first one in six years. For breakfast, the kitchen will serve a concise menu featuring eponymous Ottolenghi classics like shakshuka with braised eggs, labneh and grilled focaccia and from 11am, daily changing salads and mains will go on display. A talented team of pastry chefs will ensure the sweet treats counter is always abundant with tempting bakes and pastries, and a fridge packed full with the Ottolenghi Ready range will be on offer throughout the day, as well as pantry items. Book a table at one of Ottolenghi’s venues across the capital on his website here.
Share a Spanish spread at The Tapas Room
There’s some good news for lovers of Spanish-style sharing plates: The Tapas Room has just opened its newest site on Peckham High Street. The restaurant is the fifth branch from the popular group and will serve their tried and tested formula of lesser-known Spanish grape varietals alongside a range of traditional and more modern tapas. Peckham is the largest restaurant from the group with a large upstairs dining area, and a snug bar downstairs for evening drinks and tasting events. Book a table here or at one of their other branches in Tooting, Deptford, Battersea or Deptford on their website here.
Ditch the cutlery for award-winning wings at Orange Buffalo
The Orange Buffalo have been serving up award-winning buffalo chicken wings and mouth-watering burgers since 2012. Be prepared to get your hands dirty as this tasty operation is open for business at their Truman Brewery Site, as well as a brand-new central brick-and-mortar joint in Soho. Their Hoxton site will be opening next month with the addition of a drag brunch – an opportunity that is not to be missed. The restaurant are open for walk-ins, but for further information on how to book a table at their branch in Brick Lane, Hoxton Square and Tooting, visit their website here.
Grab a pint and a pizza at 400 Rabbits
South London’s sourdough pizza and craft beer masters Four Hundred Rabbits are launching a brand-new flagship pizzeria, bar, gelateria and coffee shop, at Elephant Park on Friday 28th May. The new site offers 54 seats inside the restaurant and a further 26 outside on the terrace. Served alongside its famous London sourdough pizza will be craft beer from breweries such as Lost & Grounded, Gipsy Hill and Deya; Negronis on tap; and a Four Hundred Rabbits’ first “hutch-made” gelato in a rainbow of flavours including roasted pistachio, rhubarberry (rhubarb and strawberry) sorbet and vegan coconut. Book a table here.
Try Thai with a twist at Patara
Patara may be a Thai chain but there is absolutely nothing cliché about them. Their menu is “authentically different”: they serve up gorgeous traditional plates with an innovative twist, such as the beautiful Chor Muang starter – flower-like hand-crafted caramelised chicken and peanut steamed dumplings – and their signature dish, a lightly battered, whole seabass. Their cocktail menu is also worth trying, and there are plenty of veggie and vegan options available. Book a table at one of their branches in South Kensington, Soho, Oxford Circus, Knightsbridge, Hampstead and Wimbledon on their website here.
Upgrade from KFC with Thunderbird Fried Chicken
Thunderbird are known for their game-changing golden fried chicken, alongside flavour-packed burgers, magical wings and saucy little sides, making it one of the must-visit restaurants in the capital. With outposts across London, their latest Earl’s Court branch marks a new era for the fast-growing brand. The site boasts 47 covers inside and 16 outside. Featuring high tables, booth seating, a condiment station and digital menu boards, everything is as seamless and safe as possible. Alternatively, with the O2 now open for socially distanced events, don’t forget to check out this outlet. The Chipufalo Wings are a must-order. Book a table here.
The editorial unit