Choosing a restaurant could either be a hit-or-miss case, not to mention if you’re also expecting a feast for the eyes. In such a big city like Britain’s capital, London, there is a vast number of restaurants but here I’ve narrowed it down the list of 10 must-visit restaurants considering the ambiance and menu:
Burgers & Lobsters – “We don’t have a food menu,” said the servers in white shirts and dark pinstriped aprons at Burgers & Lobsters. The restaurant, only serving burgers, lobsters and lobster rolls, has another striking element, the décor and vibe. Patrons are whisked to a fancy seafood chalet by the beach, as they pass the red awnings outside, making their ways to the cozy red sofas amidst the wooden furnishings. Securing a table at lunch or dinnertime is a challenge but patrons will find that neither of the dishes will not disappoint!
Aqua Shard – The infamous tallest building in London and Western Europe, The Shard, comes with an acclaimed contemporary British restaurant, Aqua Shard. The restaurant is the embodiment of the successful collaborative effort between London architectural practice Jestico + Whiles and founder of Aqua Restaurant Group, David Yeo. The Gin and Tea theme features touches of Liberty fabrics, and a dark oak floor consistent throughout both wings of the restaurant. Linking the two wings is the enchanting bar, offering patrons an extensive list of drinks as they indulge the unparalleled view of London from Aqua Shard’s three-storey windows. Its inventive cuisine, breathtaking view and its design make Aqua Shard a contender in splendid dining experience.
Archipelago – Try to find the most unique restaurants in London and you’re very likely to come across Archipelago. With its adventurous menu of insects and exotic meats including bison, kangaroo, crocodile, and python, Archipelago is the destination to intrigue your taste buds. The peculiarity of the restaurant is displayed in its décor. Red walls meet pine green tablecloths and a vast collection of Asia/Africa inspired exotic knick-knacks. Patrons find themselves sitting on a chair covered by a fabric different from the others at the table, surrounded by random paintings and intricate art pieces adorning the wall, served with a gourmet meal of the unexpected.
Tramshed – What was once an electricity generating facility for the Tramway System in 1905 is now Tramshed, London’s best meat restaurant of 2012 according to Time Out. The restaurant, located in East London, has a simple menu: chicken and steak, and what would be more apt other than an artwork of a cow and a rooster by renowned British artist Damien Hirst for a statement piece. The ‘Cock and Bull’ sculpture steals all the attention as soon as patrons enter the dining area as it’s suspended four meters above ground in a glass tank of formaldehyde. Another interpretation of the cock and bull theme is an image of 1990 Cartoon Network characters Cow and Chicken on the mezzanine floor. Following their dining experience, patrons may proceed downstairs to the owner’s, Mark Hix, art gallery and enjoy the monthly exhibitions.
Bunga Bunga – If Italy were a restaurant, it would be Bunga Bunga. Located in Battersea, the restaurant is a celebration of every melodramatic facet of the Italian culture. Gracing the walls are authentic posters and postcards from Italy, while the ceiling is just as eccentric with Vespa helmet-shaped lamps and a suspended motorcycle. Underneath, sits a gondola-shaped bar with paintings of the romantic Venice. After enjoying Bunga Bunga’s unmatchable array of proseccos at the bar, patrons proceed to the dining area girdled with a theatrical red velvet curtain. Owner and Italophile Charlie Gilkes created Bunga Bunga “with a big sense of humour as a really fun place” and that he achieved by playing with an interesting coalescence of colours and quirky ornaments.
The Breakfast Club – Escaping from the posh restaurants of London, one would appreciate the comfort food from The Breakfast Club. The all-day breakfast diner is a flashback to the 80s, from the name they share with the American comedy-drama from the era and their vintage décor. Patrons patiently line up outside each TBC in London to experience the unique setting and the hearty all-day breakfast menu. TBCs always have a playful atmosphere with the bright colors of the 80s and the wooden tables, mismatched colorful chairs and couches, random life-size street signs, and beer barrels. There’s so much to look at, including the cool hipster servers, while patrons are waiting for their meals.
Rabot 1745 – Tucked away in one of London’s most prominent markets, Rabot 1745 is Britain’s first gourmet chocolate restaurant whose menu embraces the cocoa cuisine. The cacao haven, cast over two floors, is a cross of a West Indian plantation house with British eccentricity. On the ground floor is Café Rabot, where corrugated iron meets steel walls and chic seating for guests to watch cocoas being roasted, grinded and processed into chocolate. A chocolatey aroma fills the room, to the corner where a reclaimed wooden staircase leads to The Dining Room. While it still resembles a plantation in the Caribbean, the elegant restaurant is also an embodiment of chocolate. Brown leather banquettes paired with wooden furnishings and walls constructed of neatly lined stripes of wood for a minimalistic look. Rabot 1745 makes an ideal spot for patrons to enjoy dishes marinated with or infused in cocoa.
Sarastro – Named after a character in Mozart’s ‘Magic Flute’, Sarastro is an opera-inspired restaurant, rich with flamboyant art pieces including props from nearby theatre shows, and gilt furniture. Founder Richard Niazi was a wine-enthusiast passionate in the world of opera, and the mastermind of the soothing vibe and the opera music flowing in the room. Some lucky patrons are seated within opera boxes while others dine near lavish theatre curtains. Located in the heart of Theatreland, Sarastro is also referred to as “The Show after The Show”, an apt name for a feast for both the palate and the eyes.
SUSHISAMBA – The 38th and 39th floors of London’s Heron Tower house SUSHISAMBA, a stunning restaurant designed by Samba Brands Management Founder & Managing Partner Shimon Bokovza and architectural firm Cetra Ruddy. With three walls of looming 8-metre windows, and 24/7 operating hours, SUSHISAMBA invites patrons to enjoy London’s view any time of day. Its design incorporates elements from the very cuisines it serves — a blend of Japanese, Brazilian, Peruvian and British cuisines. Terrazzo floors reminiscent of sidewalk patterns from Ipanema and Rio de Janiero welcome patrons as they make their entrance, followed by the dominating Japanese-inspired bamboo interior and red canapés. More than 200 lights hanging from bamboos lining the ceilings illuminate as patrons savor SUSHISAMBA gourmets.
sketch – sketch is the brainchild of restaurateur Mourad Mazouz and acclaimed French chef Pierre Gagnaire. Residing in the desirable Mayfair quartier, sketch’s concept is to be a destination for food, art, and music, which explains The Lecture Room & Library, sketch’s two Michelin starred fine dining restaurant by interior designer Gahban O’Keeffe; and The Gallery, a gastro-brasserie designed by award-winning artist Martin Creed. The Lecture Room & Library is a sumptuous room decorated in hues or orange, padded ivory leather walls, with purple and crimson armchairs to match the eye-catching carpets. The Gallery, in contrast, is a contemporary, eclectic dining room without two furniture or cutleries that are identical — not even the walls are identical. With the dynamic duo of the opulent Lecture Room & Library and The Gallery, sketch welcomes patrons to enjoy its top-tier gastronomy in a realm of art.