Here is a selection of 5 restaurants, from the hundreds in London – representing our most memorable meals of the past year.
George and Vulture – for the heritage
It’s original, very English, impossible to find and you can sit where Charles Dickens dined. It appears that not much has changed here since the 1860’s. The restaurant closes at the weekend, because the City (financial district) has shut down for business, so book Monday to Friday. We suggest a lunch, and then wander around the City and pop into the Royal Exchange for a digestif. It’s mentioned at least 20 times in The Pickwick Papers and Dickens frequently drank and ate here. (Get the right address, 3 Castle Court). (Tip: ask for a table by Dickens’ bust)
Simpson’s in the Strand – for the best British cuisine – no really!
Okay, we’re not known worldwide for our haute cuisine, but if you’re a meat eater, you’re in for a treat! Roast beef is a good start – and us Brits excel at it. The French don’t call us ‘les rosbifs’ for nothing. This one is not off the tourist trail, but as one of London’s oldest with the original décor, it’s a must.
La Famiglia – for a family Sunday Italian lunch
We love this place. I guess you’d call it a neighbourhood restaurant. Here you can mix with fairly well to do Chelsea types and be serenaded (literally) by the ‘maitre d’ and staff. We’ve been for Sunday lunch, just the two of us, or a large birthday party. You’ll leave smiling. And you’ll probably see some familiar faces from arts and sport. If you’re a Chelsea supporter, it’s been haunt of players and managers for years. It was also a favourite of Princess Diana. (Tip: ask for a table in the conservatory).
Portrait – a great restaurant and view, with a rather nice gallery attached!
You enter the National Portrait Gallery and head up one of London’s longest escalators, then some stairs until you reach the top (or just take the lift, but the long route up is a lot more interesting). Up here you get a fabulous view over Trafalgar Square and down to Parliament. Start with cocktails at the bar, enjoy the view – and mix with the London art crowd! Naturally, do follow with a look around the gallery – displaying key British people from Tudor times to the modern day.
Sky Garden (Darwin Brasserie) – for the wow factor!
Book at dusk, if you can, to watch the sunset. Be blown away at the views from this restaurant. Nothing matches it in London – unobscured for 20 miles and enough space up there to fit two football pitches; say what – yes a top floor enclosed area and an outside terrace. There are frequently live bands, to get you rocking at the weekend or as you explore the jungle style walkways 525ft above London! (Tip: the Darwin Brasserie has lighter fare than the Fenchurch Restaurant).