One of my greatest pleasures in life is going out for a meal. That being said, recently, I have found a strain in the frivolity. The prices of starters are getting above themselves, and don't even get me started on those upperty main courses. All in all, I constantly dread the bill. I am more than happy to patronise those places doing great food, but if you're giving me a soggy salad and a warm glass of wine for £50, we're going to fall out. So I thought this worthwhile for me as much as anyone. Why don't I ask around some cultured people and see where they enjoy spending their money. Hopefully, this will lead to little less dread and a lot more enjoyment
N.B I realise this is quite London-centric so I will do Part 2 which focuses a little more on the rest of the UK. But not denying London has some real honeys in the restaurant department.
Sophie Davidson, Photographer
I love The Garden Museum cafe, they have never let me down and it is an absolute pleasure to have a three course meal alone there as much as it is to have a dinner with your closest friends or a date. The garden is, of course, itself a draw and eating al fresco in the summer is divine. I also rate the museum highly and have a membership so will use any excuse to visit Alan Titchmarsh's orange uniqlo jumper.
My other favourite is Koya City, which is not as intimate as the Soho version but is another wonderful place to eat alone if you are in the city and need a rest. I always get a half kake and some specials or in the summer a zaru gomadare. I always want pickles and I really do love the prawn heads.
Actually THREE in case any have already been taken,
I have only eaten once at The Greyhound Inn but I brought my menu home and have not wanted to go somewhere again so desperately! I need someone to drive me (please message offers of transport) but they were so generous and everything was delicious, I would like to arrive there at 1pm and leave at about 4pm for an ideal long lunch. The wine list is also very good!
Georgia Spray, Founder of Partnership Editions
My favourite place is The Clarence Tavern on Stoke Newington Church Street. We tend to go for a Sunday lunch with my toddler as it's super family-friendly and the food is so delicious.
Nolan Watson, Founder of TYS SEEN ENGLAND
Gemma Moulton Founder of The East London Cloth
I've been trying to think of somewhere less obvious, but in all honesty it would be Andrew Edmunds. I like places that remain unchanged. It shows a certain confidence and that the emphasis is on the food and the service. Food aside though, I hate being crammed too close to another table and despite its pint sized dining room, I don't really feel like that in Andrew Edmunds. Although if I ever am privy to another table's conversion, it's normally one worth listening to. The atmosphere is spot on, the noise level is always 'just right'. In fact I find everything is just right, which I think is the fine art of a good restaurant.
Erandi de Silva, Architect and Editor
Behind Whitechapel High Street, with its Bangladeshi traders, and in earshot of the city’s main Mosque, is a quintessentially London experience: Tayyabs. I spent many Friday nights at this iconic Punjabi restaurant when I was a student. In the years that followed, I recall celebrating finishing a book with a meal here. These days, when I'm in town, I meet up with friends and we order our usual selection. With its chaotic atmosphere—neon lights piercing the smoke of grilled meats as waiters rush past in the noisy stir—their food is flavourful and affordable, just know that sometimes there is an hour-long line. It’s the price of popularity!
Isabella Rothman, Co-Founder of Wondering People
My favourite restaurant would have to be Nest in Hackney. My great friend worked there for years which might seem biased, but it really is hospitality at its best. It’s unassuming and cosy - they serve epic natural wines and a tasting menu that revolves around single seasonal meat (apart from veg & seafood season) - meaning every time you go, you’re in for a surprise.
Rebecca Perry, Founder & Buyer of Emile Wines Ltd
My go-to restaurant is Café Cecilia. The food is faultless and the space is gorgeous - it's casual, relaxed and elegant. The staff are warm and the portions are both generous and beautifully unfussy. A visit here always feels like an indulgent treat, even though two can eat well for less than £100. Go for a long lunch on a warm afternoon or pop in for a glass and one of their exceptional puddings - the Guinness bread is also not to be missed! Great wine list as well!
Hugo Macdonald, Co-Founder of Bard
The Shore Bar on the Leith waterfront has been our go-to neighbourhood restaurant since we moved last summer. Its curved banquettes are like a hug in furniture form. A smoked fish platter for two, with the best chips in Edinburgh and a bottle of Sancerre are nourishment for minds, bodies and souls.
Louisa Tratalos, Founder 0f Colours of Arley
It's got to be Bubala (there's two now, one on Commercial Street and one in Soho). My boyfriend took me there on our first date and it's not only my favourite cuisine, Middle Eastern, it's also vegetarian. Every single plate is a 10/10.
From the kohlrabi to the potato latkes it's all delicious, I mean the halloumi comes with chamomile & fennel honey...insane.