Discovery GemZone: A guide to London’s tastiest fine dining spots

Hi lovely people! 🙂

So I’ve been living in London for nearly 7 years now, and it has occurred to me that whenever people ask me what I love about this marvellous city the most, my answer is instantly FOOD. The abundance in variety, quality, and innovation goes unmatched from any other city I have visited.

There is so many options I want to share, so instead of overwhelming you will all the gems in one post, I’ll be breaking down my London food knowledge through different categories. First up, here are some of my favourite fine dining options that the city has to offer:

For a brunch experience that favours sweet and savoury lovers, visit L’ETO CAFFE in Soho or The Ivy, Chelsea Garden

 

L’ETO CAFE has several branches across London, but if you’re after all-day breakfast and have a sweet tooth that shortly follows, visit the Wardour street branch in Soho. The menu regularly changes or adapts popular favourites. For example, they recently started serving Eggs Royale on a spinach muffin which is surprisingly delicious! The menu offers a wide array of breakfast favourites, from pancakes to regionally inspired dishes to simple but exquisite porridge. The decor inside is also wonderfully magical; often filled with flowers and bulletin boards with colourful butterflies and a welcome announcement that you should embrace the cake lover in you. After all, what attracts most viewers into this small caffe is the window display of cakes that consist of flavours most people have never heard of (green tea cheesecake, anyone?). It is worth noting that they don’t take reservations, so if you don’t want to queue up I’d advise going on a weekday!

Price Range: If you want the full experience (breakfast, drink, cake), expect to pay between £20/£25 per person. Albeit I’ll say it’s worth every pence!

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The Ivy also have several branches across London, but my preference is the Chelsea Garden for the beautiful interior decor that does make you feel like you are in a hidden magical garden (they have an outdoor court as well).

My favourite dish is the Lobster Benedict, which is worth every pence and definitely a treat yo-self dish. They also have plenty of classics, like The English Breakfast and a wonderful vegetarian twist that includes avocado, potatoes, and halloumi cheese.

Price Range: Around £20 per person for a main dish and drink

 

 

 

 

 

Transport yourself to Mediterranean Italy at LUCA, a fine dining experience that will tug your purse strings but compensate it with the best food of your life 

 

Located in Clerkenwell on St John’s Street, the hustling and bustling area for the 9-5 worker, LUCA exterior decor leaves much to the imagination and can easily go unnoticed  by the passerby. I was lucky enough to try LUCA through the recommendation of a friend, and it quickly became my favourite restaurant in London ever.Note that it is best to always reserve here as it gets quite busy and walk ins are not guaranteed (worth booking up to a month in advance). If you do reserve, ask to be sat in the main dining area as that really seals the deal on what will already be an unforgettable experience. Once you enter the restaurant, you are greeted by the friendly and attentive members of staff who ask if you want your coat to be placed in the cloak room. If you sit in the main dining area, you feel like you might as well be at an authentic Italian restaurant in Italy. The lights are dimmed and you are surrounded by an exterior of brick walls and view into an outside terrace.

Now let’s talk about the food. Regardless of what you order, you are guaranteed to be served complimentary bread with oil. This sounds rather simple but this is potato bread, something I guarantee most of you have not tried before. It is tasty enough to kick in your taste buds and amuse your bouche, but not so filling that it will deter you from wanting to try everything off the menu. LUCA’s menu (which is always explained by the staff) is composed of starters, pastas, mains, and desserts. Do not be fooled by the pasta section, however, as one pasta is not a main course and nowhere near enough to satisfy you (and ordering one dish would rob you from the experience). The advice generally is to order 2 to 3 starters, 2 pastas, and main, and a dessert between 2 people. This sounds like an awful lot but I guarantee you won’t regret it.

The menu changes seasonally at LUCA, but there are some popular favourites that haven’t been knocked off yet and are a must try for anyone: parmesan fries and whipped salt cod (pictured above in the first image). I’ve also been lucky enough to try the red wine ragu pasta and pheasant with lentils (also pictured above) while they were still on the menu. For dessert, try their Tiramisu, which is consistently offered and the best I have ever hard.

Price Range: LUCA will set you back between £50 to £75 per person (on the higher end if you get wine), so unless you’re breaking bank I’d recommend this for a special occasion

 

For my second favourite restaurant in London, try Granger and Co., an Australian restaurant with a modern twist on Asian cuisines

 

Granger and Co. is making waves across London, with locations branching from Notting Hill to Chelsea, Clerkenwell, and Kings Cross. The Notting Hill branch, however, is the most popular one to date. Sadly, the NH branch do not take reservations, and if you plan on brunching over the weekend expect to queue for a good hour at peak times. Dinner can become quite packed as well, so my advice is if you go for brunch you either go during a weekday and for dinner plan to arrive early (you’re usually guaranteed a table if you show up at 6 PM). Alternatively, locations like Clerkenwell take reservations and the menu is essentially the same, but I’m quite the advocate for Notting Hill due to my fascination with the area and the big window decor of the location that allows plenty of natural light to come in. 

Alas I’m getting off track from the main attraction of Granger, which is the food, of course.

For breakfast/brunch, there’s plenty of classic options such as sourdough soldiers with soft boiled eggs and the millennium stereotype: avocado toast. There is also the Australian take on the full English, which includes salmon and kale (and quite frankly probably the only thing off the menu I wouldn’t recommend). The most popular and by far tastiest option, however, is the Ricotta Hotcakes. Essentially, they are very fluffy pancakes served with banana and maple syrup and all the sweet tasty goodness your heart could desire. Don’t let the word ricotta throw you off, as you can’t actually taste any of it in there, but whatever it’s purpose is it’s doing it right!

Lunch/dinner is equally as appealing as brunch at Granger, and my advice to you is that you indulge in a starter/main/dessert. Like LUCA, Granger also tweak their menu seasonally, but there are always some hit-never-miss favourites. For starters, try the courgette chips with nigella seeds, tahini yogurt, and lime. While it’s still on the menu, also give the ricotta, kimchi, and spinach dumplings a go! When it comes to the main, my all time favourite is the fried kimchi rice with soft shell crab and chorizo topped with a perfectly cooked poached egg. It is worth trying everything off the main menu, so you’ll have to visit Granger more than once! Other justifiably popular favourites include the courgette fritters with halloumi and quinoa, yellow fish curry, and the confit duck with rice.

I’ll admit that by the time you get through the starters/mains, dessert may sound like too much of a challenging feet but they do say your stomach holds a separate stomach for these occasions! If you’re up for it, try the banana fritters with ice cream, and I promise you’ll thank me later!

Price Range: For breakfast/brunch, expect to pay between £10 to £15 per person depending on if you get a smoothie. For dinner, a single main averages £13, but if you include starters/dessert/drinks, you’ll likely spend £25 per person.

 

Welcome to Chotto Matte: The Peruvian/Japanese fusion hotspot you didn’t know you were missing 

 

 

From a visual perspective, Chotto Matte has enough going for it that even if the food was awful, you would still tell your friends how incredible the interior design was (the picture of the neon flower above is what you can expect on your trip to the loo, which you will also blag about to your friends). When you walk into the restaurant (make sure to make reservations), you will feel like you’ve walked into one of London’s coolest new clubs. The whole set up of the restaurant will leave your jaw on the floor.

Luckily for Chotto Matte, as well, is that the food is not awful and instead you’ll be raving about the cuisine much more than the interior design to everyone and anyone who will listen. Being Peruvian-Japanese fusion, expect a wide array of dishes: everything from the perfect sushi, to the most tender chicken you have ever tasted in your life, to an indulgently satisfying small bites such as tuna sashimi serves on tostadas (light crispy corn tortillas). Whether you go as a pair or as a big group of friends, I highly recommend that you order lots of different dishes between everyone so that you can make the most of the varied menu. Chotto Matte also is distinctively notable for its’ cocktails and mocktails, my favourite in particular being the Pisco Sour. Once you get to dessert, go for their dessert platter to try a bit of everything (albeit if you only want to choose one, go for the salted caramel cake, which will melt in you mouth).

Price Range: It should come as no surprise that this can come at a hefty price, quite frankly averaging at £50 per person on the lower end. However, if you visit during the week before 6:30 PM, go for their theatre menu. It costs £25 pounds per person and includes a wide array of starters, a bento box, a dessert, and even a glass of champagne!

 

 

 

 

 

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