We’ve all been there, fed up of the prospect of another night on the sofa with Netflix and the Deliveroo menu, having exhausted the local eateries and using the miserable winter weather as an excuse not to venture out to try new London restaurants.
When you’re deep into a relationship and are so comfortable in each other’s company it’s hard to break out of the rut of going to the usual, local, fail-safe places after a long day at the office, it’s easy to see why the tired old sofa has such a strong appeal.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way! Yes, the weather in London during winter is less than ideal and can sometimes tempt the most intrepid of explorers to throw in the towel and stay at home to order a pizza, but there are some hidden gems definitely worth investigating this winter for you to snuggle up and get cosy in and they could also help to inject a bit more panache back into your relationship. Find out the 5 best kept secret London restaurants.
- Sarastro, Drury Lane, WC2B 5SU
This Turkish and Mediterranean restaurant has taken inspiration West End theatres and the Royal Opera House just are just a stone’s throw away, so it’s a perfect venue to have dinner before catching a West End performance. Sarastro is also the first restaurant of its kind in London to have taken its seating design straight from the theatre and features balconies and its bannisters have even come from the Royal Opera House.
From famous prima ballerina’s signed shoes dangling artfully from chandeliers, ornate gold ceilings to the opera box inspired intimate dining booths, you will enjoy the Aladdin’s cave of treasures this restaurant has to offer inside the Grade II listed Victorian building.
The focus at Sarastro is on fun and atmosphere rather than the snobby pretensions of haute cuisine. This doesn’t mean that they have sacrificed style, substance or taste for that matter, the food is amazing and combines unusual but brilliant flavour combinations evoking the glamour and decadence of the ancient Byzantine Empire.
A meal for two is priced at £25-30 per head for a two-course meal, the deserts are especially exceptional but trust us, ordering two spoons is not an option as they are too good to share.
The menu is so much more than baklava and kebabs, with a Turkish pudding originating from the 11th Century, the authentic Turkish Sufi Helva is exquisite and with the best Cheese Bourek in town if desert isn’t your bag, the starters offer a diverse assortment of traditional and authentic Turkish flavours to try too.
With veggie options such as freshly prepared hummus, Imam Bayildi a dish of aubergine stuffed with caramelised onions, tomatoes and herbs alongside many tantalising starters, there’s something for everyone at Sarastro.
Sarastro have also hosted events and most recently, West End singer Colin Roy has performed some of the greatest love songs from Swing, Soul & Motown with a live saxophone band, along with the gentle percussion of tinkling cutlery and wine glasses from happy diners in the background.
Sarastro’s Valentine’s menu is live on the website and they are taking bookings now so don’t miss out on a fantastic and romantic London restaurant to treat your other half this year.
- The Red Lion, Fuller’s Pub, Barnes, SW13 9RU
A firm favourite among south west Londoners, the Red Lion is an institution and well worth the journey from Waterloo train station. The way to get the most out of the day is to get off at Putney train station and take the 25-minute walk along the river Thames into Barnes town centre, following the signs for the Red Lion Pub conveniently mapping the way for the out of zoner. You can even make a day of it by visiting the Barnes market and going to a movie at the famous Olympic Studios cinema which re-opened in 2013.
Popular with celebrities (I have had the pleasure of seeing the Hoff sipping a cold one at the bar), The Red Lion is also situated near the childhood homes of Robert Pattinson and Lily James, this pub has had its fair share of famous customers.
Currently offering 20% off your bill in January, this pub is not to be missed, especially with its roaring fires and heated outside drinking area, the Red Lion is the number one place to go this winter to warm yourselves up after a bracing walk past the Thames.
The Sunday Roast menu is fantastic and affordable with a whole roast chicken for two with sage and onion stuffing at £32, roasted loin of Dorchester pork and apple sauce £16 and slow roasted Hampshire beef complete with Yorkshire pudding and horseradish sauce £18, you won’t go hungry either!
Thinking of an evening meal mid-week to change things up? The Red Lion’s seasonal menu features a fantastic array of food. The chicken liver & Armagnac parfait melted in the mouth and was a great start to the meal followed by the juiciest pan-fried salmon with char-grilled fennel, beetroot puree, dill vinaigrette and new potatoes. The meal ended on a high with the all-round British favourite, vintage ale sticky toffee pudding served with ice cream.
The staff are so friendly and welcoming and the atmosphere is like a rural country pub and after a few hours warming up by the fire and enjoying top notch food and drink, we quickly forgot that we were in London as Barnes town centre is a small island of village life, tucked away from the hubbub of London’s big smoke.
- Flavour Bastard, Frith Street, SoHo, W1D 3JW
Take your taste buds on an epic adventure at Flavour Bastard, a hot new restaurant which opened its doors to a host of new and adoring fans in September 2017. The chefs making a name for themselves are classically trained in French cuisine but are infusing this background with Indian heritage and combining other flavours from across the globe as their research trips influence the menu.
If you want to push the sofa far from your mind and try something new with your other half then Flavour Bastard is THE place to do so. The chefs have torn up the rule book and are feted by the press with rave reviews from GQ, The Telegraph, Google and Open Table, who summed up the restaurant perfectly as a place where, “Flavours partied in my mouth”.
Flavour Bastard’s central location makes it an ideal venue to meet up after work for an evening meal and afterwards you can enjoy the wealth of cocktail bars and pubs in SoHo’s infamous party district or take a stroll through China Town on the way home.
The quintet of pumpkin and squash with Za’atar roasted acorn squash, pumpkin mousse & pickle, spaghetti squash jam and soy pumpkin seeds is one example of the colourful and exciting food that can be found at Flavour Bastard.
Catering for meat lovers and veggies, there is something for everyone to try and shake up their taste buds at Flavour Bastard and their desert menu is where things get really creative so those with a sweet tooth will not be disappointed.
Sleepless in SoHo, a pudding featuring coffee-cardamom parfait, coffee-chocolate biscuit, vodka, passionfruit and pussy energy drink gel, which featured on the special menu, as a contemporary take on the classic tiramisú.
Small plates start at £7 per person, reaching £10 for a main meal and the desert menu starts at £5.50 per person. I predict that it will soon have a cult following become a major success so book a table asap before it becomes nigh on impossible to get a reservation.
- Pitt Cue, 1 The Avenue, Devonshire Square, EC2M 4YP
If you’re living in the East End and are keen to try something new then head on down to hot new city restaurant, bar and brewery Pitt Cue for a change of scene. The new restaurant is the latest coup for the team since their humble origins as a South Bank food truck, to a small bricks and mortar location in SoHo, the brand has grown to a full-blown restaurant after securing investor’s attention.
This restaurant, bar and brewery is a meat lover’s dream, featuring specialities such as roasted pig’s head and offal, an array of tempting daily specials and key dishes from the main menu such as ox tongue and celeriac starter £7, onglet steak served with king oyster mushrooms £15 and the desert menu is not to be missed. Honestly, a trip is worth it for their creamy bone marrow mash alone!
One of the ways in which Pitt Cue stands out from the rest of the pack is that they have taken the time to really invest in their ingredients, to the extent that they rear their own Mangalizta pigs in Cornwall, as well as working alongside family farmers and butchers in order to serve up the finest quality food to their loyal band of customers.
This is a restaurant with a difference, their passion for good quality is also found in their on-site Alpahabeta brewery which focuses on producing amazing fresh beers, an IPA, best bitter and their signature Bourbon Brown, a beer styled on a traditional ale combined with smoked oak chips from their in-house smoker. The goal with the Bourbon Brown beer is to merge a beer and a shot in one glass.
Pitt Cue has an incredible lunch menu if staying out late isn’t an option and it’s a fantastic place to meet for an afternoon date. However, the atmosphere really comes alive at night when the hardened city workers throng the bar as they wind down after a long day breaking necks and cashing cheques.
- The Orange Public House and Hotel, Victoria, SW1W 8NE
The Orange is one of those places which is perfect for a romantic evening, a casual weekend brunch and a great place to take the folks when they’re in town. Dining upstairs focuses on British cuisine classics as well as their famous wood fired pizzas which are not to be missed.
The Orange decor blends together classic and novel seamlessly with elegant interior decoration suited to nearby Belgravia, yet still managing to keep it cosy and casual enough to while away the time as you would in your local pub.
The Dining Room offers a tranquil haven which is one of West London’s best kept secrets. Tucked away from the boisterousness from the bar below, the beautiful dining room offers guests stunning views across nearby Orange Square with masses of natural light pouring in through the windows.
The menu from the dining room is the place to go for an affordable yet sophisticated dining experience. Tasty starters such as chili salt squid with smoked chilli and lime dressing costing £9, wood fired buffalo mozzarella, tomato and basil pizza costing between £9 – £14.50 depending on how hungry you are and traditional puddings such as Bramley apple pie served with pecans and vanilla ice cream £7.50.
The Orange proves that you don’t have to pay sky high prices for good quality food, especially considering its location is just a stone’s throw from Belgravia and Sloane Square.
Part of Cubitt House, which comprises of The Grazing Goat, The Thomas Cubitt and The Coach Makers Arms, The Orange is part of Cubbit House which comprises of locally run businesses which serves Belgravia, Knightsbridge, Pimlico and Marylebone. Also, a hotel The Orange has 4 hotel rooms on the second floor and The Grazing Goat has 8 hotel rooms above the dining room over 3 floors. Complete with oak floors, king size beds, marble en-suite bathrooms and Wi-Fi on the house guests need not worry should they overeat at dinner and need a luxurious place to stay! Available for private hire should you fall in love with the place, The Orange are also currently offering 20% off any breakfast, lunch or dinner in January if you sign up to their newsletter, so you can treat someone special or just spoil yourself rotten!
The Orange have also played host to brilliant food events such as The Feast of Beasts Banquet Series, where they have organised an event showcasing local suppliers with seating in true banquet style and tickets costing £120 per person with all food, drink and service included.
These top-notch London destinations will inspire you to wrap up warm and face the elements this January, so go ahead and try something new.
For more inspiration click here to read London’s Top 10 Romantic Restaurants