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By Laura Walkinshaw | September 12 2013
The restaurant scene in London has boomed so much in recent decades that some of the world’s most iconic chefs have deemed it to be the “capital of the world” when it comes to fine dining.
With Michelin stars awarded to more than 60 gourmet venues, the standard of cooking – and the competition – is exceptionally high, with almost every famous chef having an outpost in the British capital.
Just as you would expect in one of the world’s most expensive cities, London’s restaurants – particularly the Michelin starred ones – will cost you a pretty penny to dine in, while private dining experiences and extensive wine lists will leave a dent in even the healthiest of wallets.
But for a meal costing in the region of $300 per person, you can expect to dine in ultimate luxury, with expertly selected ingredients from all over the British Isles and Europe a given. Perhaps most impressive, however, is the level of technique you’ll get from some of the world’s most famous chefs and their teams.
Unsurprisingly, French cuisine is at the helm of London’s fine dining scene, with the likes of Alain Ducasse – one of the chefs to have praised the capital’s high standard of restaurants – and Michelin-starred chef Pierre Gagnaire both focusing on classic cuisine reminiscent of Paris, complete with grand dining rooms.
Although the majority of French chefs make use of the special produce found in the British Isles, including scallops from the Isle of Skye and Cornish turbot, others remain devoted to their native suppliers. Guests dining at Hélène Darroze at the Connaught, for instance, can enjoy fresh fish of the day from the Saint-Jean de Luz fish market, as well as south-west France’s finest selection of cheese and wine.
But while some of the best restaurants in London are spearheaded by overseas talent, some of Britain’s finest chefs started their careers in the capital – and have gone on to achieve great things.
Arguably one of the most famous chefs of today, Gordon Ramsay began his cooking career at Marco Pierre White’s restaurant, Harvey’s, in south-west London, before moving to Le Gavroche where he worked under founder Albert Roux.
At Le Gavroche, Ramsay met Marcus Wareing, who went on to be the head chef of Petrus. Both now own two of the most exclusive – and expensive – restaurants in the capital.
While dining at the three Michelin star restaurant costs a mere snip of the price you’d pay at Plaza Athenee, Ducasse’s flagship venue, there is certainly the opportunity to splurge with a private dining experience.
From around $300, guests can sit at Table Lumière, located in the center of the restaurant, which is surrounded by 4,500 shimmering fiber optics, or in Salon Prive – described as a ‘cosy, private alcove’. Alternatively, if you’re feeling particularly flashy, you can hire Salon Park Lane for dinner, which can accommodate up to 30 guests, for around $1,200.
When Sketch opened in Mayfair at the end of 2002, it quickly became known as one of London’s most expensive restaurants, and this luxurious venue is still going strong having earned two Michelin stars.
Founded by iconic Parisian chef Pierre Gagnaire, who holds a constellation of Michelin stars, and restaurateur Mourad Mazouz, Sketch offers a French menu made up of extremely high-quality ingredients.
Mains will set you back around $70, while taster menus start at around $150. The extensive wine list, however, is where you can really splurge. But with excellent food, service and atmosphere, can you really put a price on luxury?
When internationally renowned French chef Joël Robuchon expanded his global empire and opened an outpost of L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in London’s Covent Garden in 2006, it quickly won praise and a Michelin star within two years.
Drawing inspiration from the simplicity of Japanese cuisine, the restaurant applies French techniques to a lavish selection of ingredients from countries all around the world.
Japanese counter dining allows guests to see and even interact with Robuchon’s team – led by executive chef Jeremy Page – as they prepare dishes right in front of their eyes, with taster menus starting at $190.
Being one of just two London restaurants that hold three Michelin stars, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay offers classic French dishes and a top-notch service that’s hard to beat.
Having been led by chef de cuisine Matt Abé since 2015, the team here continues to uphold the exemplary standard.
A menu of high-quality ingredients from the UK, including scallops from the Isle of Skye, Scottish lobster tail and Cornish turbot, will set you back around $140 per person for three courses, or you can opt for the multi-course Menu Prestige for around $185.
The Roux family is perhaps one of the most famous families in the culinary world and Le Gavroche has certainly stood the test of time.
Founded by Michel and Albert Roux in 1967, and renowned for training some of the world’s best chefs, including Gordon Ramsay and Marco Pierre White, Le Gavroche is now run by Albert’s son Michel Jnr, who serves up old-school French classics worthy of two Michelin stars.
With a menu made up of the highest quality seasonal ingredients, along with Scottish beef, rabbit, Cumbrian veal and Goosnargh duck, you should expect to shell out a fair bit of money to dine here – and with the Roux reputation for exceptional food it will be well worth it.
Hélène Darroze made a name for herself as a Michelin starred chef in Paris before opening up her first restaurant in London in 2008.
A fourth generation descendant of a long line of chefs, Darroze’s French gourmet cooking focuses on the finest ingredients, which she secures from suppliers in her native Landes region in south-west France.
The menu includes ingredients such as fish of the day from the Saint-Jean de Luz fish market, pigeon from Racan and cheese from Hervé Mons. A five-course meal costs around $120 but the Inspiration Menu costs around $377 with premium wine pairing.
From the second you step onto the tree-lined pathway that takes you to French restaurant The Greenhouse, you’re transcended from the hustle and bustle of London’s Mayfair that you were in just moments earlier.
With head chef Arnaud Bignon at the helm, who produces highly flavored French dishes using fine ingredients, this one Michelin star restaurant has made a name for itself as one of the least “stuffy” fine dining venues in the capital.
While value for money is offered with the set lunch menu ($46), the a la carte will set you back almost three times as much at around $120 for three courses, and even more for the six-course tasting menu (around $140). An extensive wine list will leave a dent in your wallet, too, with bottles costing more than $2,000.
But with the finest seasonal and British-sourced ingredients on the menu, including lamb and Galloway beef from Yorkshire, and expertly paired wine from the sommeliers, you can be sure that this inventive and flavorsome menu will leave you well and truly satisfied.
After a much-publicized falling out with fellow chef Gordon Ramsay, Wareing opened his own restaurant at The Berkeley in 2008 – where he had previously been head chef of Petrus.
Wareing uses fine ingredients from all over the British Isles to create light cuisine bursting with flavors. The taster menu, priced at $150, gives guests the chance to try a number of dishes, including Dorset crab and Herdwick lamb, while the a la carte – costing around $110 for three courses – features delights such as Duke of Berkshire pork and Galloway beef.