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Fine Dining in Prime London: Ten Top Tables

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The Capital’s prime neighbourhoods have always contained their very own complement of smart restaurants. Think of them, if you will, as Michelin starred jewels in London’s glittering property crown; something luxurious to go with the multi-million pound homes that attract so much investment here. The chefs that run these establishments have become stars in their own right with profile-boosting book deals, TV shows and product lines, meaning that they can actually afford to live near where they work – surely the dream of any humble cook!

Here are ten of prime London’s best fine dining destinations in no particular order of exclusivity.

Best for celeb spotting:

Chiltern FIREHOUSE-11. Chiltern Firehouse – Marylebone

Worth the treat?
Andre Balzac, who also owns the legendary Chateau Marmont in Beverly Hills, is a dab hand at instant myth creation. Plush decadence is the name of the game with ironic chintz thrown in to boot. The staff all look like escapees from London Fashion Week.

What to eat?
Crab donuts have already become the signature dish but other delights are on offer. Chef-curator, Nuno Mendes (see what we mean about myth-making), is part culinary visionary and part merry prankster. Caesar salad looks conventional on the menu but comes to the table garnished with crispy strips of chicken skin. Frozen apple pannacotta is the pick of the desserts.

Who to meet?
Mere civilians should be ready to be trampled under the stampeding feet of London’s glitterati. We’re talking A-listers – people who are known by their first name only. Kylie, Keira, Kate and that’s just the K’s. Yes, the Chiltern Firehouse is (pardon the pun) “hot”. Bookings should be made with extreme tenacity and cunning so if you have a latent talent for voice mimicry, now is the time to try out that Simon Cowell impression.

2. Nobu Berkely Square – Mayfair

Worth the treat?
Put that tray of supermarket sushi down right now! At Nobu, there is no compromise when it comes to the preparation and presentation of their unique fusion of Japanese and Peruvian traditions.

What to eat?
The sushi and sashimi is, of course, peerless. A surprise hit, however, is the medley of oriental mushrooms, flash baked in a super hot oven and drizzled with yuzu (a Japanese citrus concoction). Chocolate Bento box is also a winner.

Who to meet.
Fashionistas, film directors and weight-conscious actresses are all in evidence and the air kissing can reach critical levels. Robert De Niro is such a big fan, that he teamed up with Matsuhita Nobu and opened a New York branch of, what is now, an international glamour brand.

Dabbous-13. Dabbous – Fitzrovia

Worth the treat?
The rising star of the London restaurant scene, this eponymously named Fitrovia eatery is set to vacuum up Michelin stars. The unassuming Ollie Dabbous is a media natural with his designer T-shirts and carefully distressed hair, but he prefers to let his food do the talking.

What to eat?
Egg scrambled in smoked butter with diced mushrooms and then returned to its shell is a fine example of the delicate artistry that mark this chef out as the next big thing. Iberico pork with a crackling of acorn praline is pure taste overload.

Who to meet?
The word-of-mouth force is strong with this one. When even Gwynnie complains of booking difficulties, you know that a genuine buzz is being created. Friends of La Paltrow such as Nigella Lawson are also regular guests.

Best for old school glam:

4. Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester – Mayfair

Worth the treat?
For an additional fee, you can book the central table Lumière with its fibre-optic curtain and Hermès crockery.

What to eat?
If it’s at all possible, you should go easy on the starters. This is because the desserts on this classic French menu are predictably out of this world. Share a Cookpot which is a seasonally changing, pastry-sealed casserole featuring green asparagus, girolles and comté cheese.

Who to meet?
Serious foodies, Francophiles and lovers of the “Grand Old Lady” of Mayfair hotels all flock here to bask in the glow of Ducasse’s trio of Michelin stars.

Le Gavroche-15. Le Gavroche – Mayfair

Worth the treat?
Dining at this bastion of haute-cuisine perfection is an education in itself. Michel Roux Jr and his long-serving team bring a distinctly French element of performance and ritual to the dining experience. Smooth, sophisticated and laden with Michelin stars.

What to eat?
The menu is a legendary roll call of French classics but the soufflés are what continue to make Le Gavroche famous. The soufflé suissesse blends Gruyère and cream into what tastes like a barely set cheese omelette; to finish, the omelette Rothschild is a pillowy sponge of apricot soufflé anointed with Cointreau.

Who to meet?
Cultured parents who want to send their offspring off to Oxbridge with a refresher course in refined discernment always book Le Gavroche. It’s also the ideal place to celebrate key anniversaries and birthdays, as a meal here will last long in the memory of loved ones.

6. The Wolseley – Mayfair

Worth the treat?
The main menu may be pan-European and the clientele international, but for a breakfast that imparts a deep sense of Englishness, no venue surpasses The Wolseley. A yin-yang combination of substantial marble and beautiful Art Deco make this one of the most attractive dining rooms in London.

What to eat?
The way that this establishment handles eggs is the reason why the breakfasts come so highly recommended. Scrambled, they attain almost mousse-like fluffiness and the awesome eggs benedict have become The Wolseley’s calling card. We recommend two portions, by the way: one to savour and one more to set you up for the day.

Who to meet?
Anyone who thinks that the decline of western civilisation began with the invention of the “skinny latte” and the “McMuffin”.

Best for making deals:

7. Coq d’Argent – The City

Worth the treat?
A verdant rooftop terrace offers stunning views across the Square Mile. Service is as sleek and efficient as the lift that whisks you up from street level.

What to eat?
The classic French menu contains such highlights as a wonderfully light mushroom parfait which is enhanced by a rich coating of port jelly and a sprinkling of pickled baby vegetables. Seafood dishes are also of the highest quality.

Who to meet?
This is the place where deal makers and power brokers can look out over the wealth that they have created while enjoying the rewards that come with it.

Best for cutting edge:

Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7LA-58. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal – Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Knightsbridge

Worth the treat?
Blumenthal’s conquest of London was on his own terms and in his own time; a fact that only served to crank up the anticipation levels to somewhere between fever pitch and hysteria. Since then, Dinner has become one of the top culinary destinations in the capital.

What to eat?
Heston seems to have turned his inquisitive mind away from science and towards history. Pyrotechnics have given way to an intriguing exploration of British food tradition and with this being Heston, the attention to detail is mind boggling. A main course of duck leg, deboned and cooked sous-vide, then glazed in honey and spices dates back to 1672 – the recipe that is (even Blumenthal wouldn’t try to cook a 350 year old bird, would he?).

Who to meet?
Restaurant critics, celebrities, culinary geeks and fellow kitchen mavericks all come away with one thought on their minds. “Meat Fruit (chicken liver parfait disguised as a perfect-looking mandarin). How does he do that?”

Best for comfort eating:

9. The Ledbury – Notting Hill

Worth the treat?
A place of contrasts, The Ledbury is a big city restaurant with a menu full of comfort food as dazzling presentation goes hand in hand with deliciously earthy flavours. It’s almost as if Aussie chef, Brett Graham, doesn’t want his skill to overtake his ingredients (“Let’s leave the pretentiousness to the Poms”).

What to eat?
Graham likes to bake his food using a variety of heat sources intended to impart unusual, yet exhilarating flavours to the dishes. Try celeriac baked in ash, beetroot in clay or venison in hay – that’s if you can resist the signature wild boar dish.

Who to meet?
The clientele are well moneyed and well travelled but loyal to Graham’s vision. Two Michelin stars do not lie.

10. St John – Smithfield, The City

Worth the treat?
Some cookbooks are inspired by restaurants, while some eateries have risen out of positive media exposure. In the case of St John everything seems to have developed together organically which is fitting for an establishment that prizes the integrity of its produce above all things.

What to eat?
The St John menu is an unapologetic love letter to British meat. The white tiles, terse food descriptions and butcher’s block tables make sure that you are entirely focused on the bone marrow, ox hearts and veal chops that chef Ferguson Henderson has made world famous.

Who to meet?
Stella McCartney (joking!).

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About the Author

Established in 1958, Benham and Reeves is one of London’s oldest, independently owned property lettings and sales agents.  With specialism in residential sales, corporate lettings and property management in prime areas of London, the company operates from 21 prominently located branches and 14 international offices.

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