10 Best Restaurants in London (IMHO)
Londonlaunch.com's Top 10 Best London Restaurants are in a league of their own, offering fabulous fine-dining, Michelin starred chefs, stunning decor and exceptional service.
I'm often asked which restaurants are the best in London. Well, it's obviously a matter of opinion (and taste) and in the gargantuan metropolitan megaplex we know and love as our home town, you can't help thinking that a sub-standard gastronomic experience would not go unnoticed. In short, there are loads of great restaurants in London, so it's what makes them different that makes them stand out as the ‘elite’. Then, of course, it depends what mood you're in or what the purpose of the evening (or luncheon) is.
At least once a week (particularly on a Tuesday or Wednesday for Champion's League reasons) I like nothing more than devouring a juicy flame grilled burger (and chunky chips) at our office local, The Broadway Bar and Grill. Owned by a great friend of mine and renowned Club owner, Brenhan McGhee, we're always welcomed with open arms and ushered to our favourite table (the one with the best view of the (multiple) screens) no matter how busy they are (even if their very own 'noisy neighbours', Chelsea, are playing).
The ‘BB&G’ is, in fact, an excellent destination for a wide variety of corporate gatherings – from sports screenings to wine tasting, rooftop summer soirees (check out their amazing integrated rooftop tent) to fine dining in their classy ‘Brasa’ restaurant, perhaps followed by a few after-dinner drinks in their integral member’s club, Broadway House.
On other occasions, my inevitable acclimitisation to world class canapés and bowl-food, delectably supplied by London's finest caterers, gets the better of me and I crave something rather more exotic and over the top. An occupational hazard, of sorts!
The great thing is that restaurants and, more specifically, quality restaurants are making a notable comeback. This is because, as in any field, quality always wins through in the end. Settle for a cheap restaurant experience and all you'll get is...erm... a cheap restaurant experience. If budget is the primary concern though, there are plenty of great local places if you look hard enough. For example, there’s a tiny little French place in an alleyway in Knightsbridge. I can’t remember what it’s called but I know where it is and they have authentic rustic French wooden-handled knives, which is a great touch. Snails and bone marrow (a current trend in the events catering world), amongst a variety of other quintessentially French
delicacies, all adorn the menu ‘gastronomique’. My simple rule of thumb is to avoid anywhere where the tables are sticky, the loos are grotty and you have no idea where the kitchens are. Until you find them next to the loos downstairs.
I love tapas and (the renowned/notorious) El Metro in Fulham Broadway was a regular haunt for many years. Until our entire office was poisoned by a plate of 'special' oysters. They were special. In fact, they were so special that they nearly killed us! I remember vividly wondering how I'd escaped it, as I was the last man standing on that fateful Friday afternoon. I was also due to have dinner with Graham Lancaster, the revered founder of one of the biggest PR agencies in the world, Biss Lancaster. And then six o'clock came around and, like a Frisbee in the park getting ever closer to my face, it hit me! In fact I spent the next five hours lying on the bathroom floor. When I recovered I googled 'oyster food poisoning' and it put me off them for life. Something to do with absorbing and filtering offshore sewage. I do love seafood though (just not from land-locked Fulham tapas bars), so a notable fish restaurant did make it into my top 10. We didn't even get a free drink next time we went back. Yes, we went back. Twice. What were we thinking?! As I said, go cheap and die!
In 2014, corporate event organisers are looking for affordable quality experiences and, as luck would have it, that's exactly what the market is offering. Of course, it's not luck at all because the restaurant trade is a fine tuned and well oiled (excuse the pun) money making machine and for good reason – you get what you pay for. The signs are that there are going to be more events staged in 2014 than ever before.
Corporations are increasingly entertaining more intimate groups of clients and, crucially, potential clients, more frequently.
Sure, the spectacular flagship gala dinners for five or six hundred guests or more are still going strong (check out some of the amazing, star studded events the Lord's Taverners are staging this year, as well as other high profile charities such as Ark (who raise millions through their sensational events) and Marie Curie, who have, for the first time started to use event technology to great effect). And the food produced by the leading caterers is nothing short of sensational (Rhubarb, Mustard, Admirable Crichton etc) as well as the up and coming new kids on the block, snapping at their (delicious, edible) heels (Noble House,Purple Grape, On Air etc).
In fact, one of my top 10 restaurants is overseen by a Rhubarb shareholder, Heston Blumenthal, and that tells a story. It really is all about the grub these days, rather than the decor! Restaurants have become increasingly desirable environments for relaxed corporate gatherings as the business world inevitably becomes more and more personable and, to a certain extent 'authentic'. A bloody good meal in a bloody good restaurant goes a bloody long way! Almost at any cost.
The food is paramount. The presentation is tantamount (to a work of art). The hosts must be catamount (especially at Galvin – look it up!). And the environment must categorically surmount the highest peaks of excellence (Duck & Waffle does this in altitude alone!). These four ingredients are all as crucial as each other.
It's all or nothing because in a world of uber-demanding perfectionists and online expert critics who all want to be heard (and listened to) there's no mercy or margin for error.
For substandard experiences we have one word. Tripadvisor. And it's a dangerous word in the restaurant world.
You'd be amazed at how much this one site has forced the trade to up its game, almost single handedly improving hotels and dining over the last five years because grumpy people now have a voice too. The secret to its unfathomable success is that it can't be ignored because everybody uses it, good or bad.
Oh, and a bonus at number 11 – Boisdale of Belgravia. This timeless ‘end of Empire’, well-worn and ‘clubbable’ joint is home to some of the finest steaks south of the border. An intrinsically stylish restaurant (which owes much of it’s unique atmosphere to the gloriously eccentric owner, Ranald Macdonald), Boisdale has a decidedly ‘old-school-cool’ atmosphere with live jazz every night. It’s really popular with small to medium sized corporate gatherings too as there’s an abundance of unique dining areas (nooks and crannies) in which you can lose yourself (and your inhibitions, it seems!).
So, there you have it, our (current) top 10 (actually, 11!). If you disagree or have any suggestions/reviews to add, please let us know! Likewise, if you operate a restaurant, which we haven’t included, please tell us why we should have done so!
Will Broome CEO