There’s something very satisfying about eating an unexpectedly delicious meal in truly unpleasant surroundings. Take Vauxhall curry house, Hot Stuff. Designed to look more like a minicab waiting area than a restaurant, this bring-your-own eatery serves up some of the best North Indian cuisine in the capital (try the chili paneer, it’s beyond reproach). That said, nothing beats an amazing spread served in an equally remarkable dining room.
Lucky then, that five of the best meals we’ve eaten in the capital in the past month or so have also been served in the most impressive spaces around.
Contained within the Edition Hotel, Berners Tavern was Jason Atherton's third West London venture of 2013 (Little Social on Pollen St, followed shortly by Social Eating House on Poland St). The food here is flawless – a modern twist on British classics with dishes such as ‘Egg, Ham and Peas’, a deep-fried duck egg with mushy peas and crispy ham as well as roast highland venison with pickled red cabbage, carrots and fondant potato. Given a revamp by hotelier Ian Schrager, the dining room is colossal with sky-high walls crammed with antique-framed art and opulent chandeliers. A hidden gem in the heart of Fitzrovia, once you enter, you'll never want to leave.
Holborn’s Rosewood Hotel opened at the end of last year. Since, the sister property of New York’s uber-hip Carlisle Hotel has received rave reviews and hosted some of the biggest parties going (including this magazine’s very own LC:M opening bash back in January). In February, the Rosewood opened the doors to its eagerly awaited in-house restaurant, Holborn Dining Room. Headed up by restaurateur Des McDonald, former head chef of The Ivy, the food is unpretentious and delicious (order the shrimp burger, followed by the Bakewell tart), but it’s the Martin Brudnizki designed dining room that really clinches the deal. Enormous, marble-clad and ringing with the voices of boozed up media types, expect to stick around ‘till last orders.
The restaurant at Andre Balazs’ new, 24-room Mayfair hotel is the place to get a table right now (we’re still on hold). Hardly surprising, given that Balazs is the hotelier behind LA’s super-glitzy Chateau Marmont and NYC’s premier celebrity magnet, The Standard High Line. If your idea of fun involves rubber necking to see how many crab doughnuts Suki Waterhouse manages to stuff in, or nicking a fag off Guy Ritchie in a restaurant’s secret smoking area, the Chiltern Firehouse is for you. With an impressive menu from chef Nuno Mendes (formerly of East London’s Town Hall Hotel), the restaurant’s dining room is the star of the show; complete with an open kitchen, brasserie style chairs, low-slung globe lighting and cream wood cladding. Food wise, order the steak tartar and some crab doughnuts. Or just nick some off Suki.
Marani is one of the capital’s hidden gems. Offering superb Georgian food (try the delicious hot and sour soup with meat dumplings or the soft flatbreads filled with cheese), this family-run restaurant is a celebration of all things Georgian. The private dining room and bar on the top floor is the clincher. Resembling the inner chamber of some long dead tsar, the duck egg blue space with original mirrors, intricate cornicing and vaulting ceilings is intimate and elegant. Throw in some thoroughly modern pendant lighting, clusters of antique family photos and some of the most interesting food (in a good way) we’ve tried in a while, and you’ve got the ingredients for one of the best meals you’re likely to eat this year.
Back in 2012, Chris Corbin and Jeremy King of Rex Restaurant Associates – whose list of London landmark restaurants include The Wolseley and The Delaunay – opened Parisian café Brasserie Zedel in the heart of Piccadilly. Occupying the space that was once the Old Regent Palace Hotel, the art-deco interior is as impressive as the pocket-friendly menu; bathed in golden light with marble-clad walls and elegant velvet chairs. We recommend you head to the bar for a glass of Spritz Américain (sparkling wine, lemon, grapefruit liqueur and bitters) before feasting on salmon tartare and beef bourguignon in the main dining room.