People say that owning a dog is like having a small child — but who wants to eat out with a toddler?
A dog, on the other hand, is the perfect dining companion. Better than most adults, as it happens. A dog will never turn its nose up at any food that you order, a dog won’t point out when you’ve already told them what happened at work that day and a dog will be overjoyed to see you when you come back from the loo instead of resentfully closing Instagram.
Dog ownership shot up by 10 per cent during lockdown, with the UK pet population (pupulation?) swelling by 3.2 million. Now that most new owners have returned to work, those lockdown mutts are stressed out enough with separation anxiety without then being left home alone, second place to a meal out — because if there’s one thing a dog loves more than you, it’s food.
Here we’ve named our favourite dog-friendly restaurants across town, based on the food that they serve to humans and not their four-legged friends, though we have included a couple of places where the canine offering is as good as the grub their owners get. Remember that most pubs are dog-friendly — hence we’ve left those out — and most restaurants with a terrace will allow dogs outside. But, given the weather can rarely be counted on, we’ve restricted our list to those places that are truly dog-friendly both inside and out. Bone appétit!
Dogs are welcome in the bar of St John — and “they’ll probably get a bone marrow too”, according to restaurant co-owner Trevor Gulliver, which must be the easiest way to introduce your pooch to one of the world’s great signature dishes without surreptitiously feeding them under the table.
Chef Fergus Henderson’s legendary bone marrow and parsley salad, the apotheosis of umami, is something anyone who enjoys eating should try at least once, but there’s not a dud dish on a bar menu of simple British cooking as joyfully utilitarian as the surroundings in a converted smokehouse. There’s cold roast pork with dandelion and shallots, cheese and chutney sandwiches, plus hot-cross buns and Eccles cakes so good Gulliver and Henderson have launched spin-off bakeries. If you’re not quite ready for the full nose-to-tail experience, Welsh rarebit and a pint of bitter is possibly the best £15 you can spend in London.
26 St John Street, EC1M 4AY, stjohnrestaurant.com
The Garden at Corinthia London
All dog owners think their pooch deserves the five-start treatment but this hotel, beloved of everyone from Beyoncé to Bill Clinton, will really make your hound feel like the celebrity you (possibly) believe them to be. Dogs are given a basket and blanket to curl up in, plus an all-important mat for the inevitable moment they decide to send their water bowl flying; ask for a table by the fire and they should spend the entire meal snoozing while you tuck into tarte flambée, charcuterie and lobster Thermidor (should they wake up, dog treats are on hand to distract them). With a bar dispensing terrific cocktails (and cigars from the walk-in humidor after 9.30pm) this really is somewhere to linger, an awning-covered atrium with the impression of dining inside even though, strictly speaking, you’re eating al fresco. Stretch everyone’s legs after with a riverside walk along the Victoria Embankment.
Whitehall Place, SW1A 2BD, corinthia.com
The Beckhams, Frank Lampard and Chloë Grace Moretz are among the celebrities who take their dogs to get trimmed at Purplebone in Notting Hill, and where better to show off your pooch’s new ’do than this dog-friendly Mexican-Japanese mash-up over the road? Start with drinks in the upstairs cocktail bar, where the Tommy’s margarita comes with a lip-numbing salt-and-spice rim, before dinner on the ground floor, where the easiest way to describe the food is tacos stuffed with the sort of things you might expect to find in a sushi roll. Sweet potato shells are filled with crab and avocado, soft corn tortillas with cod tempura, or there’s more conventional sushi and sashimi, ceviches and tiraditos, all singing with zippily fresh flavours. Don’t miss the deliriously sweet chocolate fondant — just be sure to remind yourself that chocolate is poisonous for canines when you see a pair of puppy-dog eyes guilt-tripping you from under the table.
2-4 Farmer Street, W8 7SN, losmochis.co.uk
The Regent’s Canal might not be quite as atmospheric as the New Orleans levees but this waterside pub from Bocca di Lupo’s Jacob Kenedy does a convincing impression of bringing the Big Easy to Islington. Kenedy’s grandmother Virginia Campbell was born in the town of Plaquemine near Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which means there’s an unpolished authenticity to the Cajun and Creole food on offer here. Po’boy sandwiches come stuffed with fried green tomatoes, there’s a gumbo dense with chicken, shrimp and andouille sausage, while a menu of individually price oysters offers the bivalves prepared every which way, from au gratin Rockefeller to bacon-wrapped en brochette and parmesan-and-pepper chilli cheese. Finish off with pecan pie before picking up the dog lead and walking as far as your legs will take you along the canal. Alternatively, admit defeat, grab a beer and settle in for an evening of live jazz and blues.
139 Graham Street, N1 8LB, plaqlock.com
Wild by Tart
Should you need somewhere to have a bit of a sit-down while you contemplate whether to blow £132 on a plaited leather lead from Belgravia’s canine couture specialist Mungo & Maud, this multi-tasking, deli-cum-restaurant-cum homeware store in Eccleston Yards welcome dogs bothj on its terrace and inside. Owners Lucy Carr-Ellison and Jemima Jones had a catering business before launching their restaurant and there’s a relaxed simplicity to the cooking here, with meat and veg from Lucy and Jemima’s family farms in Somerset and Northumberland. There are salady plates of kohlrabi with blood orange and burrata with confit tomatoes, light fish dishes such as mackerel with crème fraiche and rhubarb or lemon sole with harissa butter, plus flatbreads topped with good things like caramelised onion and wild boar salami. Look out soon for homemade dog treats and ceramic water bowls in the restaurant’s Wild Store too.
3-4 Eccleston Yards, SW1W 9AZ, wildbytart.com
Though almost any London gastropub will accept dogs, there’s still only one dog-friendly London gastropub that has a Michelin star, which is this cracker of a boozer on the backstreets between Fulham Broadway and West Brompton. Head chef Jake Leach used to be the head chef at owner Brett Graham’s Notting Hill fine-diner The Ledbury but is canny enough to know that people come here for proper pub grub, which is why for every Berkswell cheese tart with Wiltshire truffle, you’ll also find the Scotch eggs made with Graham’s venison, though even the simplest of dishes such as beef short rib come with cheffy accompaniments like celeriac confit’d in aged beef fat. The Harwood is also one of London’s classic Sunday lunch venues, though you’ll have to book weeks ahead for the likes of belted Galloway sirloin with horseradish cream and Iberico pork loin and jowl with Bramley apple sauce. Truly a roast with the most.
Walham Grove, SW6 1QP, harwoodarms.com
M Victoria Street
Dogs are welcome any day of the week at this upmarket, steak-focused sibling of the Gaucho chain but for the ultimate in canine cuisine, head to M Victoria Street for its Six-Legged Brunch (£35), held every Saturday between noon and 4pm. The three-course canine menu includes chicken jerky, biltong risotto and peanut-butter cookies, and for those on two legs, shakshuka, steak and eggs and a pancake stack. Look out, too, for regular “pooch parties” featuring paddling pools, dog beach tennis and cook-for-your-dog masterclasses. Not such a party animal? Turn up any day of the week for some of the best steak in London: Australian Blackmore Wagyu, aged onsite in a Himalayan salt chamber, elevates the concept of melt-in-the-mouth to Mount Everest heights, or there’s Somerset fillet and sirloin if you’d rather stay closer to home. Argentina is the way to go on the wine front, with top producers such as Catena for every budget.
Zig Zag Building, 74 Victoria Street, SW1E 6SQ, mrestaurants.co.uk
Small, well-behaved dogs – one per table, mind – are welcome at Bistrotheque, which owner Pablo Flack defines thus: “the dog must be able to sit quietly and not create a trip hazard – so that means being able to tuck neatly under tables or benches.” If that applies to your pooch, come on in, though don’t be surprised if you’re politely asked to step outside if they start barking, a valuable lesson in table manners we could all do well to learn.
The door policy for humans is rather less demanding, though as Bistrotheque has been a favourite with the east London fashion crowd since opening in 2004, this is not the place to dress down unless your joggers are from Bottega Veneta. Weekend brunches of soft-shell crab Benedict and peach Melba French toast are what the place is famous for, though low-lit evenings in the loft-style space are just as nice for confit duck, spiced-roast cauliflower and skate wing.
23–27 Wadeson Street, E2 9DR, bistrotheque.com
Scoff a chilli dog alongside your dog at Meatliquor, the increasingly nationwide burger chain whose “dog-friendly, people tolerant” ethos welcomes pooches at all sites except Boxpark Croydon. The new-ish Clapham Old Town outpost is the most pup-friendly; take your dog for a stroll on the Common then come here safe in the knowledge that with five sports screens, two bars, a photo booth and pool table, your mutt will probably be the best-behaved creature in there. If that sounds like sensory overload, there’s a huge 90-seat garden to cool off in. Food-wise, you know the drill: dead hippie burgers, buffalo wings in blue cheese sauce, veggie and vegan patties and cheesy fries, all washed down with shakes, ice-cream floats and, for the dirtiest of dogs, and “poke for Jäger” buttons on each table.
Various locations, meatliquor.com
The chefs at Fenn have been known to send out sliced steak for their four-legged visitors, which makes this Fulham restaurant not so much dog-friendly as ruinously over-familiar. Humans don’t come off too badly, either. The fried chicken, baked oysters and cheese mousse are so addictive you may not want to order anything else, but look beyond the snacks and you’ll find some beautifully presented modern British cooking that balances ambition with enjoyability: a duck-egg yolk bobbing in mushroom broth, or Longhorn short rib sharpened up with a parsley and anchovy dressing. Go for the tasting menu (£50) – you’ll want to eat as much as you can – and for a further £45 add a drinks pairing of wines you’ll be trying to track down online. A delicious end to any dog walk and deserving of a far wider audience than its Fulham location suggests.
194 Wandsworth Bridge Road, SW6 2UF, fennrestaurant.co.uk
Princess Margaret preferred cavalier King Charles spaniels to corgis, but all dogs are welcome at this restaurant behind Kensington Palace where the party princess would sneak in with Anthony Armstrong-Jones and book a booth under the alias of Maggie Jones. The candlelit restaurant looks much the same as it did in Margaret’s heyday, when dried flowers and rustic bric-a-brac were the dernier cri of dining-room chic, which is just the way the Kensington locals like it, so too a British comfort food menu that would go down a treat with the famously plain tastes of the royal family: cheese and leek tart, fish pie, apple crumble. They will also make you a knockout vesper martini, which is just the thing with which to toast gin-and vodka-soaked Margaret. Dogs get a water bowl and the happy promise of a walk around Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park afterwards.
6 Old Court Place, W8 4PL, maggie-jones.co.uk
The Parlour at Great Scotland Yard Hotel
London isn’t short on dog-friendly afternoon teas but the Great Scotland Yard’s wins by a whisker for being in aid of a good cause, with all profits going to Dogs on the Streets, a charity which supports the homeless and their dogs. The tea, which is available every other weekend, includes a selection of snacks from Talula Eats, a Fitzrovia-based company which specialises in organic dog food. Prettily decorated china bowls come filled with fresh organic meat and vegetables and a slice of “homemade doggie cake”, which may make you want to test the rule that that all ingredients used for pet food must be fit for human consumption. Better though, to try the Floris afternoon tea, which interprets the fragrance house’s A Rose For… scent via a selection of rose and vanilla-inspired cakes and patisserie. If only all dogs smelled as sweet.
3-5 Great Scotland Yard, SW1A 2HN, hyatt.com
There’s a black and white photo on Brutto’s website of a swinging sixties Brigitte Bardot draped with a Labrador, which tells you everything you need to know about the stylishly retro point of view of this Clerkenwell trattoria. Brutto comes courtesy of Russell Norman, the former operations director for Caprice Holdings and the man who invented Polpo, which means we have him to thank for every non-bookings restaurant in London. Er, thanks Russell. Brutto, at least, does take reservations, and takes dogs, too, including Norman’s own whippet, Twig, above.
Where Polpo was Venetian, Brutto is Tuscan, which means red-and-white tablecloths, napkin-shaded lampshades, Negronis for a fiver and a typewritten menu of gusty Italian cooking: tagliatelle al ragù, tiramisu and the signature coccoli, buns of deep-fried dough to be stuffed with prosciutto and stracchino cheese. Should a 1kg bistecca alla Fiorentina defeat you, there are doggy bags to take home.
35-37 Greenhill Rents, EC1M 6BN, msha.ke/brutto
With a pair of dog-owning proprietors and a shareholder who is a canine behaviourist, it’s unsurprising that L’Escargot is more welcoming than most restaurants to dogs – though being based in the same Soho location since 1927 would probably lead anyone to the conclusion that animals are better behaved than humans. Dogs are served organic treats from Mungo & Maud, water is poured into a silver bowl, while staff dispensing cocktail sausages know that the quietest dog is one with something in its mouth. The human menu is as unapologetically Gallic as the restaurant’s name. There are the namesake snails, of course, drowning in garlic butter and with crusty bread to soak up the excess juices, or in a fricassee with mushrooms and foie gras, plus lobster bisque and French onion soup, cassoulet and chateaubriand, crême brûlée and tart au citron. In other words, les couilles du chien.
48 Greek Street, London, W1D 4EF, lescargot.co.uk
Dogs are kept distracted at Pizarro by being given a seat in the window to observe the comings and goings of Bermondsey Street, meaning their owners can devote their attention to Spanish cooking from owner José Pizarro served in far bigger portions than at his José tapas bar up the road. Ox cheek comes braised in wine with sautéed hispi cabbage and wild mushrooms, grilled plaice with roasted salsify, gordal olives and anchovy sauce, and cod with Catalan sauce and sautéed spinach. If it’s not a Spanish meal for you without some tapas, rest assured there are 10 small plates too: Padrón peppers, cod fritters with parsley allioli, anchovies in vinegar and a contender for the best ham croqueta this side of San Sebastian. The wine list, meanwhile, has eight sherries by the glass and offers a comprehensive tour of the major Spanish wine regions.
194 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3TQ, josepizarro.com