After six long months without a whiff of an indoor reservation, it’s finally time to shrug off our winter coats and dine inside in style.
Though now we have the entire capital at our fingertips, it can be rather tricky to decide where to snaffle and sip away our hard-earned pennies first, so we’ve turned to some of our favourite London insiders for their recommendations. Chin chin!
Lobos – Val Garland, makeup artist
There are so many fabulous restaurants in Borough Market where I live, one of my all time favourites is Lobos which serves the most delicious authentic tapas. I love the great roaring atmosphere of the seasonal Spanish produce cooked in an open kitchen, the aromas are just mouth watering. My favourite dish? It’s got to be the garlic prawns – ding dong!
14 Borough High Street, SE1 9QG , lobostapas.co.uk
St John – Jeremy Lee, chef
My favourite place in the capital is St John. Like an old benevolent friend; constant, reassuring and always a joy to see. It’s an even greater pleasure to sit at a table in the bar or the dining room, laid with as many dishes as possible from the menu. An excellent chilled wine on the side, and great company opposite. Life doesn’t get much better.
36 St John Street, EC1M 4AY , stjohnrestaurant.com
L’Escargot – Pandora Sykes, author, journalist and podcaster
I have a special place in my heart for L’Escargot. It’s been going since 1896 (initially under a different name) and it must be one of, if not the oldest French restaurants in London. It’s my husband and my favourite Soho spot for a date, it’s cosy and intimate and feels timeless, and it’s played an important part in Dolly [Alderton] and my relationship, too – we shot the first ever pictures for The High Low there, and did our last ever live show for Blood Cancer there, in December. It has so many happy memories for me, I cannot wait to go back.
41 Greek Street, W1D 4EF, lescargot.co.uk
805 – Yinka Ilori, designer
I’m booking a table at 805 in Hendon, which is one of my favourite Nigerian restaurants. It’s a great place to take friends as the music is always good (perfect for the beginning of a night out) and the traditional home-cooking is out of this world. Start off with the Chapman cocktail (warning: it’s punchy), make sure to order the okra soup and the pounded yam with assorted meat, and don’t forget to try out the palm wine that they have on offer too. You’re guaranteed to have a good night out but there is a high probability that you’ll have a hangover the next day.
60 Vivian Avenue, NW4 3XH, 805restaurants.com
Tate Modern and Craft London – Monica Vinader, designer
I’ll want to visit places with the best possible views of London as a reminder of how much I love the city I’ve missed so much. The Tate Modern is one of my favourite places, there’s always something new to spark your interest and it has a rooftop terrace bar with gorgeous views of the city. I’m also excited to revisit Craft London. Chef Stevie Parle creates incredible menus and the restaurant was designed by Tom Dixon, whose furniture and objects I love. It too has amazing 360-degree views of London and in the summer months they open the outdoor bar so you can enjoy the view and cocktails al fresco.
Level 9, Blavatnik Building, Bankside, SE1 9TG, tate.org.uk
Peninsula Square, SE10 0SQ, craft-london.co.uk
Trap Kitchen – Charli Howard, model and entrepreneur
I can’t wait to go back to Trap Kitchen, which became famous on a Netflix show and often has me daydreaming about it. They serve big metal trays of either snow crab or lobster, buttered corn on the cob, boiled eggs, spicy rice, as well as their amazing bang bang prawns (my favourite) and Oreo waffles. You can enjoy it as a takeaway from Balham or Walworth, though it obviously tastes much better sat down inside.
76 Bedford Hill, SW12 9HR, @trapkitchen
Dean Street Townhouse – Emily Atack, actor and presenter
One place I can’t wait to get back to is Dean Street Townhouse. It’s having a little facelift at the moment but it’s definitely worth the wait. My sister and I go there when we receive good news about work and drink champagne and have the chicken salads there - with added fries if we’re being naughty. We love the old school feel of the decor that has that stylish London edge to it. It’s cosy and calm. The staff are lovely, and the champagne is served in vintage style cocktail glasses - heaven! The tiny little outside tables are perfect for sitting at and shouting over to friends you spot across the road: “We’ll meet you at John Snow [the pub] in an hour!”
69 - 71 Dean Street, W1D 3SE , deanstreettownhouse.com
Rovi – George Northwood, celebrity hair stylist
I’m incredibly excited for Rovi’s return. It’s one of my go-to places as it’s literally opposite my salon, and I recommend it to a lot of my clients too. I try really hard to support local, independent businesses in the area and it’s not hard when they’re this delicious. I often nip in on my own straight after work as I love all of their small plates and non-alcoholic drink options. I’m really into their kombucha and apple cider vinegar. It’s also such a good spot for dinner with friends as they have the most incredible sharing plates. The corn ribs have to be my favourite dish.
51 Wells Street, W1A 3AE, ottolenghi.co.uk
Quo Vadis – Luke Edward Hall, artist and designer
It is hard to choose a favourite restaurant in London, but right now I am craving white tablecloths and the sound of clattering ice cubes. I want to be in the centre of the city, I want a cosy nook and I want several freezing cold, delicious cocktails. Soho’s Quo Vadis will more than fit the bill, and I love Jeremy Lee’s cooking. I’ve been dreaming of his Saint Emilion au chocolat.
26 - 29 Dean Street, W1D 3LL, quovadissoho.co.uk
Gymkhana – Irene Forte, entrepreneur
I love Gymkhana in Mayfair for its Michelin-starred Indian dishes. I’ve spent lots of time travelling through India and their delicious food always takes me back. I can’t live without the paneer butter masala, the methi malai mutter paneer (anything with paneer really) or the dal maharani. I like sitting in the cosy private room downstairs and will be booking it as soon as we’re allowed to dine in a big group again.
42 Albemarle Street, W1S 4JH , gymkhanalondon.com