London is on fire. Not literally, of course, but the UK’s cultural capital is in the midst of an oh-so-hot renaissance. As the city recovers from the pandemic, countless new restaurant openings are fueling a great resurgence and, aided by the international buzz around the Queen’s Jubilee, bringing back the lively, swinging scene for which the Big Smoke has always been known. If you’ve been raring to get back to this beloved destination, now’s the time. Don’t forget to pack this list of the latest and greatest offerings — and prepare to eat, drink, and be merry from Chelsea to Covent Garden.
There’s a secret garden hidden away at the Taj Buckingham Gate, which is home to five Exclusive Resorts residences, just a stone’s throw from the royal palace. And now the new TH@51 overlooks the verdant courtyard bringing a cool and hip scene to the majesty of it all. Breezy baby pink and mint green interiors are a welcome departure from the stately architecture of the regal Taj, as is the menu, filled with seasonal ingredients and a robust cocktail list that’s perfect for al fresco dining.
The Red Room
The Connaught Hotel is already home to the world’s best bar (according to the 2020 official World’s Best list, that is). Now it’s also home to this exquisite wine bar. You might have guessed the Red Room is named for its extensive selection of Cabs and Burgundies, but it’s actually an homage to the works of art hanging on its walls. Every piece, from Louise Bourgeois’s I Am Rouge to Jenny Holzer’s Benghazi embodies the bar’s namesake red hue, making for a sultry space to sip and savor all night long.
The Fuji Grill
A la carte Japanese and omakase experiences are offered at The Fuji Grill in the cozy dining room at Chelsea’s Beaverbrook Town House. Head chef Alex Del hails from London’s contemporary robatayaki Roka, specializing in traditional sushi, sashimi, and nigiri along with a few very British signatures such as Scottish Langoustine and Cornish Mackerel. After dinner, head to the adjoining bar, Sir Frank’s, to enjoy an over-the-top nightcap like the extra-tall Kinky Boots or the smoky Last Act.
Mayfair’s legendary members-only club, Annabel's, was reinvented shortly before the pandemic by maximalist interior designer Martin Brudnizki, and now, every square inch (or, perhaps we should say centimeter) is abundant with eye candy: hand-painted de Gourney wallpaper and giant brass palm trees in the nightclub; gilded ceilings and flowering greenery in the Garden Room; even the bathrooms are a feast for the senses with pink onyx washbasins and gold swan faucets. Photos aren’t allowed so make sure to capture a mental image as you sip martinis in the Elephant Room or linger over a book in the library. Believe us, you’ll want to remember it!
Sessions Art Club
Despite the name, this "Club" is fairly easy to get into. Open to all, Sessions Art Club is a restaurant, bar, art, and performance space which has given new life to an old courthouse — but not too much new life. An air of old grandeur remains in the distressed moldings and shabby-chic armchairs. The resulting vibe is one-part artist’s studio, one-part trendy urban hot spot, with the restaurant in particular shining with a straightforward and very British menu — think protein-heavy dishes like lamb sweetbreads. Musical performances and a hefty collection of back vintages ensure there’s more to look forward to after the last bite of dinner.
One of London’s best spots for a meet-up — and a celeb sighting — has added not one but two new experiences to its already acclaimed food-and-drink program. Just off the Berkeley Café (our favorite for afternoon tea), French pastry wonder Cédric Grolet has popped up with an exquisite patisserie combining his world-famous fruits and flower cakes, along with classic scones — a tribute to this sweet stint in Britain. Meanwhile, the new Berkeley Bar and Terrace bills itself as the “new old fashioned,” serving small bites, stiff drinks, and cigars amid sultry wood-paneled walls.
A restaurant built entirely on the Venetian art of eating? That’s a concept we can get behind. Cicchetti, a new West End spot, liberates those of us who wish we could try a little bit of everything by basing its menu on the delicious bar food of classic osteria happy hours. Create a meal out of oysters and burrata and arancini and carpaccio, and wash it all down with a negroni or Aperol spritz. Cin cin!
Photos courtesy of Jackie Caradonio.