Photo by: courtesy of Forza Wine
The Best Outdoor Dining in London
England’s route out of Coronavirus restrictions has led to a boom in outdoor dining in London, with restaurants with outdoor space being allowed to reopen earlier. Taking advantage of changes to legislation, restaurants have been making the most of their available space, or have simply taken over pavements.
A city which, thanks to its famously inclement weather, has never fully embraced al fresco dining like its European neighbours, has now taken to it with abandon, and London’s streets are now packed with tables, chairs and general merriment (in between storms). Whether this commitment to outdoor dining continues after restrictions on indoor dining have been lifted remains to be seen, though not every restaurant on this list is a pivot, with some having a longstanding reputation for fantastic outdoor dining.
Here’s a selection of some the best restaurants in London for al fresco eating.
Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill
Courtesy of Bentley's
Bentley’s has held a prime spot just off Piccadilly for over 100 years, and more recently has had its fortunes revived by Irish chef Richard Corrigan. Expect plenty of classic seafood dishes (don’t leave without trying the fish pie) and of course plate upon plate of flavourful molluscs – they shuck over 1000 oysters a day at their peak, they claim – all enjoyed on a heated outdoor terrace.
Davies & Brook
Courtesy of Davies & Brook
Chef Daniel Humm and team have adapted their space at Claridges hotel – formerly home to restaurants by both Simon Rogan and Gordon Ramsay – by opening a small terrace with a paired-down menu. Lobster rolls and hotdogs recall his ‘other’ restaurant Eleven Madison Park’s summer pop-ups in the Hamptons. These are of course not any old rolls and ‘dogs and prices reflect that this is a kitchen potentially on the way to at least a second Michelin star in the next guide.
Courtesy of Dinings SW3
Nestled away on a pretty mews behind Harrods, chef Masaki Sugasaki’s modern Japanese restaurant now boasts a peaceful 30-cover courtyard in which to tuck in to delicious sushi and sashimi, as well as tempting hot dishes such as Cornish lobster sliders. The terrace is only open until the early evening at the time of writing, so consider this a lunch stop.
Photo by Goya Photography
Chefs Will Murray and Jack Croft, formerly of Dinner by Heston, are heavily sustainability-focused at Fallow, whose outdoor terrace spills out on to lively Heddon Street (site of the cover for the Ziggy Stardust... album, Bowie fans). That means ‘root-to-stem’ and ‘nose-to-tail’, and making use of ingredients that are often thrown away. The cod’s head in Sriracha butter is a case in point, and one of the most Instagrammed and best dishes to come out of a London restaurant in the last couple of years.
Courtesy of Forza Wine
Located in Peckham, South London, on the rooftop of a co-working complex, Forza Wine offers incredible views of the London skyline. Its slightly misleadingly named ‘snacks’ menu is in fact a rather fine selection of deliciously seasonal Italian-inspired small plates. You can order the whole menu too at a special price, which can easily feed four, if not more. Its outdoor terrace lacks heating and cover, so this is definitely one for the sunnier days, but when they arrive, there aren’t many better places to be, with a ‘frogroni’ (frozen negroni) in hand.
Courtesy of Gold
Located on buzzy Portobello Road in Notting Hill, Gold’s outdoor courtyard feels like a world away from the din of the street. Food is Italian-inspired, by the hand of former River Cafe chef Theo Hill, with much of the cooking done in wood ovens or over fire. The chicken with nduja, tomatoes, prosciutto and toasted sourdough is a must try, as are the pastas and the various chargrilled and roasted vegetables (the aubergines are sensational). Given its location, you might even spot a celebrity or two.
Holborn Dining Room
Courtesy of Holborn Dining Room
Executive chef Calum Franklin’s British brasserie is popping up in the Edwardian courtyard of its parent hotel The Rosewood for the summer, in partnership with whisky brand Macallan. The hotel has fashioned a kind of garden oasis to emote the Scottish countryside in Central London, with grasses, wildflowers and heathers, whilst the food will be hearty, including pies from Franklin’s famous Pie Room, washed down with whisky cocktails.
Courtesy of Liewelyns
Another South London gem, Llewelyn’s is the archetypal neighbourhood restaurant. Unfussy, seasonal modern European food, in a relaxed setting (with a pleasant terrace) that requires nothing more than low conversation and knowing looks when the food arrives. In fact mention the name Llewelyn’s to a local and they’ll likely go all misty-eyed. The menu changes daily and the lineage – including St John and Anchor & Hope alumni – makes perfect sense.
Photo by: Richard Bryant
London’s most famous Italian restaurant is, as the name suggests, situated alongside the Thames. Its riverside terrace is one of the most desirable places to eat outside in London during the warmer months, and especially now, as London tentatively emerges from lockdown. A reservation is incredibly hard to come by, but if you’re lucky enough to get a table, expect meticulously sourced and prepared Italian food that long ago gained legendary status.
Photo: Rochelle Canteen website
Located in the converted bike shed of an old school in Shoreditch, Margot Henderson’s understated restaurant seems to be having a moment, despite having existed for 17 years (a second location at the Institute of Contemporary Arts was sadly forced to close recently). Perhaps it’s the secluded outdoor space. More likely the need for assured, grown-up British comfort food – fresh fish, meats with the vegetables and legumes of the season, and sticky puddings. You might even catch site of Henderson’s chef husband Fergus (of St John fame) soaking up the rays.
Turnips Borough Market
Photo: Turnips Borough Market Instagram
Borough Market is not short of great places to eat, but Turnips, an open-air produce stall that now doubles as restaurant, is one of the best places to eat outdoors at London’s biggest and best foodie attraction. Tomas Lidakevicius (former executive chef at Jason Atherton’s City Social) cooks a constantly changing five-course tasting menu using the stall’s produce, whilst those seeking a more casual meal can choose from a selection of small plates. The drinks list is produce-led too, with cocktails such as a pea negroni.
This seafood-focused neighbourhood restaurant in North London, from the team behind bakery Jolene and the excellent Primeur nearby, has constructed a covered courtyard to allow them to serve diners ahead of indoor reopening. It’s all about the small plates here, washed down with all natural wines available by the glass. As with their other restaurants, the chalkboard menu goes up daily on their Instagram page.