“Hi Richard. Hope you are well. I wanted to pick your brains. We are going to the Proms in August with some friends from out of town. We’re looking for a decent restaurant near/short cab ride from Royal Albert Hall? Can you recommend anywhere?”
With a tendency to eat out as much as I can, I get quite a few of these messages from friends – and they are getting more frequent as Freedom Day approaches. It’s fun to answer them (though a little edgy if you recommend somewhere they don’t like).
Actually this question was easy. It’s a food desert around the Royal Albert Hall. Eat at home before going there is the answer. But under the “give a man to fish/teach a man to fish etc” rule, I thought it might be useful to give On London readers a cut-out-and-keep guide to how to find the best places to eat in London
All three of these offer comprehensive guides to where to eat in London, new openings and drill down into local areas and cuisines. In descending order of recommendation:
Hot Dinners Run by the Irish Hanly siblings, this is definitely the best-written and most comprehensive guide to the London dining scene. Catherine edits the twice-weekly newsletters, Gavin keeps the chip shop going. Lots of money-off offers from restaurants who know the value of this audience.
The Infatuation An American import written with a light and witty touch that understands that eating out is Meant To Be Fun rather than an Agonising Choice. Premium membership for personalised recommendations and an Agony Aunt column from Heidi Lauth Beasley (“I’m An Introvert. Where Can I Go For A Date In London?”) that recognises that we are all different.
Eater Another American import, part of the giant Vox Media group. A very comprehensive guide but lacking the light touch and humour of the others. If you don’t want politics with your dinner, avoid this one.
Restaurants have largely given up Twitter for Instagram – and why not? Beautifully-photographed plates of food and chefs’ cook-along videos tell you so much more than 280 characters.
Best way to start is to follow Hot Dinners, pick as many of their followers as you feel like and let the Insta algorithm do its worst for you.
A few more Insta suggestions to get you going:
- londonworkerfoodies Two young women eating their way around London with unfailingly good taste.
- Msjessicamw Jessica Wang’s beautiful professional food photography is back on the road after the lockdown hiatus. Jessica spent most of the interruption recording her mother’s (Mama Wang) home cooking. Good to have her back.
- mcmoop Guinea Grill boss Oisin Rogers perambulates around London eating at the opposition to check if they are keeping up at the back. Wild swimming and beagle pup photos come as a bonus.
- Bobgranleese Guardian food editor. Famously grumpy, Bob can often be found at the Coach & Horses in Soho. Come for the dishes, stay for the comment-sniping with fellow flaneur mcmoop.
- nieves_barragan1 and jeremyleeqv Not just two of London’s greatest chefs (Sabor and Quo Vadis respectively) but two of the most joyful and hospitable. Sunshine radiates out of their posts.
Finally, if you absolutely do want a list of the best places to eat in London, you really can’t beat this one from Oisin. Since you ask, I’ve eaten at 12 of the 20. Can do better.
Richard Lander works at Citywire and recently made a short film about the reopening of London’s restaurants. Find out more about where he likes eating on Instagram. Photo: The Orrery, Marylebone High Street from the Hot Dinners guide to London’s best al fresco eating.
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