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By Alex Martin | February 10 2020
London is one of the most diverse cities in the world and as a result boasts one of the most eclectic dining scenes. Whichever cuisine takes your fancy, London has a variety of restaurants capable of taking your breath away.
With 67 Michelin-starred restaurants in the 2020 Guide, it is also one of the top-ranked cities in the world for fine dining. Although a Michelin star is not the only indicator of excellence, it is still the award that chefs covet most.
Here, we take a look at some of the best restaurants in London, covering everything from long-established culinary institutions to exciting new concepts.
One of just three London restaurants with three Michelin stars, Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester has long been regarded as the city’s ultimate fine-dining destination. By retaining its third star in the 2020 guide, it celebrated a decade with the honor having first earned it in 2010. Ducasse’s career has been laden with Michelin stars, currently holding 18 and at one stage having as many as 21.
Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester offers contemporary French cuisine in modern and elegant décor along with professional and friendly service. The seasonal menu changes frequently, but diners can expect a mix of British ingredients and French technique. There is also a vegetarian menu (Jardin) in an ode to the changing habits of diners.
The restaurant also houses the most famous dining table in London. Located in the center of the dining room, the Table Lumière is surrounded by 4,500 shimmering optical fibers which drop dramatically from the ceiling cleverly allowing guests to enjoy the ambiance and buzz of the restaurant whilst being nearly screened from view. Guests also dine off of stunning Hermès china sets and Puiforcat silverware and drink from Saint-Louis crystal glasses.
This two-Michelin-starred restaurant showcases the talents of renowned French chef Hélène Darroze. Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2019, the restaurant closed for two months to undergo a total refurbishment. Parisian design team Pierre Yovanovitch Architecture d’Intérieur were brought in to give the restaurant a fresh look, brightening the interiors and adding a spectacular pink marble chef’s table overlooking the pass and the kitchen.
Not only were the interiors modernized, but the menu as well. It reopened with a new a la carte offering that put a greater emphasis on British producers but still retains odes to her classic French training. The British-themed offerings include ‘caviar with langoustine, oyster and runner beans’ and ‘Denbighshire pigeon with beetroot, wild blueberry and Mexican molé.
Occupying what used to be the headquarters of Christian Dior, Sketch is chic, glamorous and trendy. In the Michelin Guide 2020, it was elevated to the maximum three stars, putting it in an elite group alongside Restaurant Gordon Ramsay and Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester.
The Lecture Room & Library, at the top of the Grade II listed building, offers haute-cuisine by the extraordinary chef Pierre Gagnaire in a plush setting of studded ivory leather walls, ornate plasterwork ceilings, and rich furnishings in purple and crimson. Gagnaire has a global empire to run, so he entrusts Johannes Nuding to run the kitchen in his place.
Diners can choose between a seven-course tasting menu (vegetarian available) or a full a la carte menu. There is also a vast wine list containing some impressively expensive vintages on offer. An added bonus here is the guest bathrooms, which look like something out of a Stanley Kubrick film and are without doubt the most Instagrammable toilets (if there is such a thing) in London.
Combining contemporary elegance, an intimate ambiance and unparalleled service, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay is a must for the culinary connoisseur. It has retained three Michelin stars since 2001, making it one of the longest-standing three-Michelin-starred restaurants in the world.
Since its opening, it has continually wowed diners with its consistent devotion to quality. The menu prides itself on superb ingredients and sublime flavor combinations, whilst the size of the restaurant – only 14 tables – ensures every diner receives an exceptional degree of attention.
The restaurant has retained its high standards despite losing the incredibly talented Clare Smyth, who left her position as head chef in 2016 to open her own London restaurant, Core, which also features on this list. Today, Chef de Cuisine Matt Abé, who worked under Smyth, is responsible for the kitchen.
The first London venture of UK culinary master Heston Blumenthal, Dinner was one of the city’s most anticipated openings. It has since gone on to justify the excitement and is now widely considered to be one of the best restaurants in the country.
Paying homage to historical British cooking, the menu reclaims traditional dishes dating back to the 16th century, reinventing them for the modern day. The menu lists dishes with the year they were first cooked, and Heston’s trademark wit is on top form with clever hints of antiquity and lights that resemble classic jelly molds.
Fans of Heston’s molecular gastronomy will enjoy the signature ‘Meat Fruit’ while the crowd-pleasing triple-cooked chips retain a place on the menu almost three decades after he first pioneered the dish.
Previously head chef at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, Clare Smyth struck out on her own and has since established one of the best restaurants in London. Core was widely tipped to gain a coveted third star in the 2020 Michelin Guide but was instead held on two stars to the surprise of industry experts. Still, it seems only a matter of time before Smyth joins her former boss, Ramsay, at the three-star table.
The vibe at Core is different to what you might expect; Smyth calls it “casual luxury,” taking humble ingredients like the potato or carrot (the Lamb Carrot, a dish of braised lamb but with the carrot taking center stage, is one of Core’s signatures) and “flipping it on its head” to create sustainable haute cuisine.
The blend of high-end and casual is in a refreshing twist that adds to Core’s atmosphere. Smyth wants everyone who comes in to have a good time and to make sure diners relax enjoy themselves, something that she thinks is more important than winning awards.
Set within Ten Trinity Square, the former Port of London Authority HQ that was recently re-masked into a breath-taking Four Seasons Hotel, La Dame de Pic is the work of internationally acclaimed chef – Anne-Sophie Pic. Coming from a family of successful chefs (Pic’s father and grandfather both attained three Michelin stars at the family restaurant in Valence), Pic’s decision to open a London outpost was met with huge fanfare across the capital.
With a relaxed feel, the restaurant’s pared-back interior focuses on offering guests a completely unpretentious experience, giving full attention to Pic’s beautifully presented cuisine. Offering a menu that flits between British and French cuisine, the majority of the ingredients are British produce. Pic’s ability to merge these two neighboring nations is what makes La Dame de Pic so spectacular and shows why she is widely regarded as a legend in the restaurant world.
The imposing Hide Restaurant opened in London’s upscale Mayfair last year and has, without a doubt, become one of the best restaurants in London. It sealed this reputation when it earned its first Michelin star just six months after opening its doors. The restaurant’s early success is due to a number of factors, including its incredible wine list, the beautiful Instagram-worthy interiors and the ingenious food from one of Britain’s most talented chefs, Ollie Dabbous.
The restaurant is an innovative concept and is split into three distinct areas – Above, Ground and Below – and a selection of stunning private dining rooms. It is at Hide Above that Dabbous displays the pinnacle of his culinary ability but until recently the only way to experience it in the evening was in the form of a five or eight-course tasting menu.
Hide Above’s menu changes often but the signature dish is the Nest Egg, an eggshell filled with a concoction of egg yolk, smoked butter, toasted mushrooms and cream – is an ingenious little dish and worthy of its reputation.
Although The Ritz is the epitome of old-school luxury, its restaurant continues to lead the charge with innovative and ingenious haute cuisine. The kitchen, run by head chef John Williams, holds one Michelin star although industry experts will tell you it deserves at least one more. The dining room is an experience in itself with Louis XVI-inspired décor, towering marble columns and rows of chandeliers. The sense of luxury is maintained with an old-fashioned dress code: Gentlemen are required to wear a jacket and tie at all times whilst in the restaurant.
Head chef Williams is passionate about British produce and champions it wherever possible. The seven-course Epicurean Menu takes diners on a journey around the British Isles, from the Cornish moors to the Scottish Highlands. The service also stands out here with the staff adhering to the highest standards of traditional values.
Australian chef/patron Brett Graham has been wowing diners at The Ledbury since 2005. It earned its first Michelin star just a year later and added a second in 2010, which it retains to this day. The restaurant has benefitted from Graham’s continued presence and continues to win the hearts and minds of well-heeled Londoners.
Diners can order à la carte from a spectacular array of expertly prepared dishes or, if they are feeling bold, experiment with an eight-course tasting menu, particularly fun in larger groups. The menu champions seasonal ingredients and comes with an excellent wine pairing. It is also available in vegetarian.
Opening its doors in 2019, Davies and Brook is the newest restaurant on this list by a considerable margin. However, considering the level of culinary talent in the kitchen, it was impossible to leave out. The restaurant was opened by Daniel Humm, the genius behind New York’s Eleven Madison Park and inarguably one of the world’s best chefs.
Situated in Claridge’s Hotel, no expense has been spared on the restaurant’s furnishings. The room is minimalism at its best with high ceilings and pale walls with white-framed photographs of British moors running through the middle.
The kitchen is headed up by executive chef Dmitri Magi, who formerly worked at Eleven Madison Park. His signature dish is dry-aged duck, which is served with honey and lavender, and glazed with rhubarb and daikon. It’s opening came too late for the Michelin Guide 2020, but expect Davies & Brook to join the best restaurants in London with its own star(s) very soon.