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With restaurants reopening and summer in full swing, it is the perfect time to seek out London's hidden alfresco treasures.
By Alex Martin | August 9 2020
London restaurants were given the green light to reopen on July 4, but it may be some time yet before you feel comfortable enough to dine indoors. If you’re not quite ready to go inside a restaurant, then an outdoor terrace or garden may be the perfect stepping stone into the new normal. It is widely accepted that the risk of Covid-19 transmission is far lower outside, so with summer in full swing, it is the perfect time to seek out the city’s hidden alfresco treasures. London is not exactly known for its dry weather, but there are a number of restaurants with beautiful outdoor areas that burst into life when the sun decides to shine. Here, we take a look at the best alfresco restaurants in London.
This brand new dining spot opened for the first time on July 4, offering an intimate and informal Mediterranean-style alfresco restaurant, positioned on Wilton Place on a terrace at the side of the luxury hotel with views of neighboring St Paul’s church. The hidden space is lit with lanterns and lined with olive and lavender trees to give it the distinct Mediterranean ambiance. The menu changes on a daily basis, always showcasing the freshest ingredients served as sharing plates.
Situated on the King’s Road in the heart of west London, The Ivy Chelsea Garden has long offered respite to weary legs at the end of a long day’s shopping. The restaurant’s most popular area is its extensive terrace and garden at the back of the building. Much thought has gone into the design of the garden with arched antique mirrors, leafy trellises and an eclectic mix of antique pots and planters complimenting a wealth of colorful flowers. Cozy rugs and a central fire pit compensate on cool days while the food lives up to the high standards set by this most prestigious of restaurant chains.
One of the city’s trendiest restaurants first opened high up in the Heron Tower, offering panoramic views of London from the famous Square Mile. The Covent Garden branch can’t offer you the same views, but it can offer all-weather seating in the heart of arguably the city’s most famous square. It also has the same beautiful Japanese-South American fusion cuisine that made the original branch such a culinary hotspot.
This Bloomsbury eatery is one of the most Instagrammed restaurants in London thanks to its spectacular floral arrangements. As with the menu, the flowers change according to the seasons. The menu offers something similar to what you would find in a typical gastropub but with heaps more elegance. The retractable canopy makes the terrace an all-weather venue, but it is of course best enjoyed with blue skies above. You can also book the restaurant’s private garden for an ultra-exclusive experience.
Scott’s has long played host to some of the most famous faces in London. Located in the heart of Mayfair, it counts the city’s power elite among its regulars, who come to sample the finest seafood available away from the coast. Its terrace is perfect for summer weather. Sample fresh oyster, sip cocktails and enjoy a spot of people watching in one of the most storied neighborhoods in the city.
Once a closely guarded local secret, this southwest London treasure now pulls droves of tourists and locals alike out of the city. Petersham Nurseries sells itself as a casual café, but it takes its food seriously. Everything on the menu is seasonal and/or local and made with the kind of care a Michelin chef would be proud of. The outdoor pergola is wonderful on a sunny summer’s day with rose bushes and wisteria providing protection from the heat of the day.
This critically acclaimed restaurant has been working wonders since opening in Stratford, east London, last year. The opening of its three terraces was delayed due to the pandemic, but they are now open and ready to show off spectacular views of the nearby Olympic Park. The Sky Garden allows you to sample some of the most exciting food in the city among a meadow of wildflowers, water features and cedar pathways sheltered under a cedar-cantilevered roof.
Hidden within one of the world’s finest hotels, The Secret Garden is a new ultra-exclusive oasis that allows diners to experience the best of the English summer in relative privacy. Opening on July 27 until mid-September on sunny days, it will serve light bites and an impressive caviar menu as well as fine wine and champagne. During the day, tables are protected by vast parasols while twinkling lights and candles provide a vacation-style atmosphere in the evening.
Gourmands will recognize the name: this upmarket eatery is the work of multi-Michelin-star chef Daniel Boulud. Fittingly, the restaurant is located within the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, one of London’s finest hotels. The restaurant itself has an elegant interior, but on a sunny day there is nowhere better than its glorious sun-trap terrace. Enjoy the view over Hyde Park while tucking into one of the best burgers in town.
Sitting on the banks of the River Thames, The River Cafe is an institution of London’s fine-dining scene. It has long been renowned as the pinnacle of Italian cooking in a city that has its fair share of osterias, trattorias, and ristorantes. If the food does not transport you to Italy, then a seat on the terrace on a warm summer’s day certainly will.
The Jurema Terrace is one of the largest outdoor spaces of any hotel in London and enjoys late afternoon sunshine in the summer months. The rattan style furniture is nestled in between an abundance of greenery. It is a cozy retreat that transports you far away from the hustle of the city. Diners can enjoy alfresco drinking and dining from lunch to dinner. There is a full menu of bespoke cocktails and a bar menu full of South American-inspired dishes.
CUT at 45 Park Lane becomes the latest to join the alfresco movement, launching a charming dining terrace called CUT OUT. The Wolfgang Puck outpost has been feeding Mayfair locals and tourists for almost 10 years. Usually bustling with tourists staying at the nearby Dorchester, this part of London remains unusually quiet even as lockdown has eased. As a result, now is now the perfect time for Londoners to experience this renowned dining destination. CUT OUT utilizes a thin stretch of pavement at the back of the building. There’s enough room for four, perhaps five, tables with social distancing. A small space has also been reserved for the restaurant’s famous negroni cart. It is an intimate space in which to dine on some of the best steak in London (the mac and cheese is also incredible). Depending on the depth of your pockets, you can choose different cuts of meet from 25-day-aged Hereford all the way up to Japanese A5 Wagyu. There is a marked difference between the two (in price and in taste), but there is no such thing as a bad cut here.