The minute we finished putting together our first Hot Right Now list, it became clear that we were going to need another chart of London restaurants to run alonside it. One to feature restaurants that have stood the test of time - restaurants that after the first months of frenzied excitement had died down continued to turn out amazing food.
The Hot Dinners Top 40 is our chart of London's great restaurants. Every place on this list has been opened for longer than six months. Each one is worthy of a visit by anyone interested in good food. We hope it'll be a handy list to give anyone visiting London who wants to know where's great to eat out, but we hope it's equally as useful a guide for Londoners, looking to try some of this city's more established restaurants.
Yes, it was really hard getting it down to 40, but you have to draw a line somewhere and we rather liked the idea of producing our own version of the pop charts.
40 Maltby Street, London SE1 3PA
Set up (and indeed set inside) natural wine vintners Gergovie Wines, 40 Maltby Street is rammed on market day, but feels like your own clever little secret on other evenings. Chef Stephen Williams arrived here via the Harwood Arms, Ledbury and Anchor and Hope and his brief, daily-changing menu follows the seasons closely. The wine list - as you'd expect - is exceptional. Let them introduce you to something new, perch on a stool and you'll be utterly content.
Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7LA
Bar Boulud is the perfect example of how a chef that's had plenty of hits elsewhere should approach London. Daniel Boulud was already big in NYC when he opened in London, but he made sure to bring his best people over when he came to the Mandarin Oriental. A few years down the line and it's still one of the places we always head to in the area, sure of good food and great service. This is coupled with an impressive Sunday brunch and some of the best (high-end) burgers in town.
54 Frith Street, London W1D 4SL
This is the original Barrafina but both restaurants are excellent examples of how to push Spanish tapas beyond the boundaries of initial expectations. With just 23 stools, unless you time your visit perfectly it's going to be a waiting game, but when you're drinking cold fino and their great nibbles, who's clockwatching? The a la carte is always good - particularly the croquetas and tortilla - but you won't get the most out of your visit unless you try a special or three.
1 Upper James Street, Soho, London W1F 9DF
Any restaurant which has a button that is reserved for ordering Champagne is onto a winner from the beginning. Bob Bob Ricard is one of the restaurants we always recommend to out-of-towners who want a special night out, that's not too formal. No expense is spared on the decor (the recently revamped downstairs restaurant is amazing) yet it's still ostentatious without being too obviously "bling". While you can still eat here relatively affordably, it would be a shame not to splash out on dishes like the caviar and the lobster macaroni.
12 Archer St, London W1D 7BB
This Soho based Italian restaurant from Jacob Kenedy and Victor Hugo was an instant hit when it opened and it remains one of the best counter dining restaurants in London, in our humble opinion. Yes there's a traditional restaurant area, but you'll want to be up by the bar gradually making your way through the menu.
20 Sherwood Street, London W1F 7ED
Corbin and King have many restaurant across town and their latest in particular, including Fischer's and the Colony Grill Room, are getting high praise (the latter winning our Most Enjoyable Eating Out Experience award for 2014. But it's this restaurant which will always get a recommendation for combining great value food in an astonishing looking room. Brasserie Zedel is huge and yet always humming, thanks to a surprisingly affordable menu.
Shoreditch Town Hall, 380 Old Street, London EC1V 9LT
Having honed their skills in a series of supperclubs and then in the Upstairs at... residency in Spitalfields, Isaac, Daniel and Johnny were more than ready to put all they'd learned into this restaurant. The food is inventive, often thrilling but it's the restaurant as a whole that works so well - those playlists, the great cocktails, the genuinely warm service. A proper showcase for modern British cooking .
39 Whitfield Street, London W1T 2SF
Once known as the hardest restaurant to get into in London, that's no longer the case with Dabbous so there's all the more reason to head down and check it out if the waiting lists previously put you off. It still has an evening tasting menu that represents good value and an eve changing menu, although there are a few things on the menu like the coddled egg that are mainstays. It's also well worth checking out the basement bar here, which also has its own menu.
15 The Pavement, Clapham Old Town, London SW4 0HY
The Dairy is what you get if you take a chef trained under Raymond Blanc, inspired by stages at Noma and Frantzen and then let him loose in his own space on Clapham Common. Their set lunch is one of London's glorious bargains and while locals may happily pop in for a dish or two and a glass of wine, anyone travelling here will want to spend time working their way through the tasting menu. If it's possible for a restaurant to be both relaxed and exciting then the Dairy manages just that.
Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 66 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7LA
The highest placed London restaurant on the World's 50 Best list, Heston's only London gaff is still hugely popular. The dishes that captured everyone's attention when it opened - the Meat Fruit (chicken liver parfait shaped like a mandarin) and the Tipsy Cake are still on the menu and are must-order dishes if you haven't got round to trying them yet.
Portobello Docks, 342-344 Ladbroke Grove
Stevie Parle has branched out quite a bit in the last year, opening both Rotorino in Dalston and Craft in Greenwich, but it's the original restaurant in Kensal Green which is well worth making a special trip out to. It's in a great location by the canal (particularly in summer) and a particular draw is the main set menu, which changes every three weeks and which can be markedly different - covering cuisines as varied as Korean, Thai, Mexican, African and British.
Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4A
This was the first restaurant in recent times that challenged the idea that a great view in a restaurant was often used to detract from lacklustre food. And this restaurant really has a spectacular view (and amazing lifts too). But although Sushisamba below is probably the bigger draw, it's this ever evolving 24 hour restaurant at the top of the Heron Tower that represents some of the best cooking in London, under Head Chef Daniel Doherty. It's also one of our favourite places for a weekend breakfast in London - a good bet if you want to steer clear of the relatively pricey wine list, just bloody hard to get a table at.
49 Brook Street, Mayfair, London W1K 4HR
Simon Rogan had already dabbled in London before with Roganic, but taking over from Gordon Ramsay at one of London's most prestigious hotels was always going to be a much bigger challenge, and one that's proved very successful. So if you've ever wanted to try L'Enclume but just haven't managed to make it all the way up to Cartmel, this is the perfect alternative.
43 Upper Brook Street, London W1K 7QR
This is a London classic, currently under the watchful eye of Michel Roux Jr. It's known for having some of the best service in London and an ideal place to head to if you really fancy a dose of proper old school dining. The set lunch served here is officially the best value lunch in London if you can manage to book a table for it - it's often booked up WELL in advance.
26 Maddox Street, London W1S 1HQ
Until recent years, being sure of getting a REALLY good steak in London wasn't anywhere near as easy as it should be. Things are much better now, thankfully, but the wonderful steaks at Goodman are part of the reason. When we are ever asked where the best steaks in London can be had, this is always on the list. Nuff said.
268 Royal Hospital Road, London SW3 4HP
Ramsay has had a challenging time of it in London of late but his main London restaurant is still viewed by many as one of the best fine dining experiences in London. The kitchen here is run by Claire Smyth, one of the UK's top chefs in her own right and who also has a stake in the restaurant too - and the restaurant has relatively recently had a refurb. It's neither cheap nor easy to get into, but definitely worth the effort for a special occasion.
Beeston Place, London SW1W 0JW
Regulars were up in arms when David Linley (the Queen's nephew) redesigned the dining room here. But what elevates The Goring above most traditional British restaurants is its ability to welcome some change whilst still heralding its history. Come for dinner if you want to enjoy their signature dish - Beef Wellington carved tableside on a trolley. And if you're really lucky, you might spot a member of the royal family who dine here occasionally.
42 Albemarle Street, London W1S 4JH
Gymkahana's Karam Sethi was carving out a reputation for himself and his cooking at Trishna, but while that was well received, it was the opening of Sethi's second restaurant Gymkhana in 2013 that had all the critics fawning and which won him multiple awards. Easily one of the best Indian restaurants (if not the best) in London at the moment.
157 Commercial Street, London E1 6BJ
While steak clearly is a BIG thing at Hawksmoor, in many respects eating at one of their restaurants is much more than just steak. From the cocktails (the Full-Fat Old Fashioned is one of our favourites in London) to the burgers and some amazing desserts - the salted caramel rolos are unmissable - Hawksmoor is the very epitome of the excellent all-rounder. We've picked the original here, but you can be sure of a good time at any of their five London restaurants.
301-303 Chiswick High Road, London W4 4HH
In this time of barbecue and burgers, there aren't too many places doing that molecular gastronomy style of intricate cooking in London - but there is one place that's still up there with the best. Self-taught chef and former food blogger Mikael Jonsson keeps himself busy preparing some of the most challenging and best food in London and his fans go nuts about eating here.
25a Warren Street, London W1T 5LZ
This tiny restaurant at the north end of Fitzrovia is much loved for its deceptively simple Middle-Eastern cooking and also for being one of the friendliest places to eat in London. Run by Itmar and Sarit Packer (Sarit was previously at Nopi and Ottolenghi) it really has the feel of a neighbourhood restaurant in the middle of London. This couple were at the forefront of Levantine cooking just as it became a trend and they continue to lead the field.
51 Pimlico Road, London SW1W 8NE
Hunan is huge with restaurant folk. They adore the no-nonsense approach from owner Mr Peng who decides what you're going to eat and, if you push the boat out, what you're going to pay. We've lost count of the amount of people we know who rate this amazing little Taiwanese restaurant in London, but never want to tell you in case they can't get a table the next time they swing by. Come hungry because you'll roll out of the door when you leave.
28-34 St. Martin's Court, London WC2N 4AL
One of London's pre-eminent seafood restaurants, J Sheekey has long been popular with actors who head here straight from treading the boards at theatres nearby. But while the restaurant is great for rubbernecking, we prefer sitting up at the bar (not the new oyster bar, but the small one in between that and the main dining room). The fish pie is a great comforter and at just over £15 a total bargain for this part of town.
70 Charlotte St, London W1T 4QG
A restaurant within a restaurant, tucked away behind the curtains at the back of Bubbledogs, Kitchen Table is really the largest chef's table in London. Take a stool and prepare for some fireworks. Husband and wife team James Knappett and Sandia Chang met when working at Per Se but the setup here is definitely inspired by Brooklyn Fare. There are just 19 seats and the 12-14 course dinner menu is entirely inspired by what ingredients are on top form that day.
127 Ledbury Road, London W11 2AQ
One of the few London restaurants to make it into the top 10 of the World's 50 Best, this is often cited to us by fellow foodies as their favourite place in town. Fronted by Brett Graham it manages to mix high-end Michelin starred food with a relaxed service, while still keeping the locals happy too. Graham has also recently been joined by ex Fat Duck chef James 'Jocky' Petrie in the "creative development role".
Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High Street, London E1 6JJ
The Sethi family (Gymkhana, Bubbledogs and - most recently Bao) have a great record when it comes to supporting talent. So when they backed James Lowe it merely confirmed what those who'd enjoyed his cooking at so many Young Turks supperclubs already knew, that Lowe was One To Watch. In this ultra pared-back Shoreditch restaurant he's given full rein to showcase his talents - expect ultra seasonal menus and inventive wine pairings to boot.
The Berkeley, Wilton Place, Knightsbridge, London, SW1X 7RL
This two Michelin starred restaurant in Knightsbridge is the eponymous home of Marcus Wareing, and his flagship restaurant in London (certainly the only one where you've a good chance in seeing the man in the kitchen). It's recently had a big overhaul and is aiming to move away from the more "stuffy" service of the past, and has a striped down seasonal menu too - showing that even the biggest Michelin chefs can move with the times.
74 Welbeck Street, London W1G 0BA
If you're not as old as us, it might be hard to imagine that, until not that long ago, it was bloody hard to get a decent burger in London. But MEATliquor changed all that and was in many ways the catalyst for a huge sea change in London's dining scene, mainly by proving that people will queue for a good burger just as they would for a nightclub. Notwithstanding the fact that MEATliquor still makes some of the best burgers in London, we simply wouldn't have the choice we have now without them.
47-48 St John’s Square, Clerkenwell, London EC1V 4JJ
Bathed in natural light in its lovely location on St John's Square, it's almost as if chef Anna Hansen has brought the sunshine over from her childhood growing up in New Zealand. Weekend brunches are crazily popular, but whether you're grabbing a more casual bite in the downstairs cafe or dinner in the upstairs dining room, Anna's food and its global inspiration is what keeps people coming back.
34 - 36 Exmouth Market, London EC1R 4QE
Back in 1997 when Moro first opened, Exmouth Market was still a scruffy Clerkenwell street and and this restaurant with its implausibly good looking bar staff and open kitchen was the second most exciting thing to happen to the area food-wise since The Eagle threw open its doors. Run by the marvellously-monikered Sam and Sam Clark, it's still turning out great food in a room that's packed every day of the week. Grab a glass of sherry up at the bar, or nab one of the more sought-after window tables and enjoy a lazy, boozy afternoon here.
20 Queen Street, London, W1J 5PR
Yes, on the one hand this is all very Mayfair - yards of linen napery, deep plush carpet, a certain type of ultra wealthy diner, but there's some thrilling food coming out of Angela Hartnett's kitchen that belies the calm of the dining room. What's more, the wine list is genuinely exciting - making this a place you'll want to deliver yourself into the hands of the sommelier.
182 Gray’s Inn Road, London WC1X 8EW
Want to be looked after to within an inch of your life? Well this is the restaurant you come to. Properly old-school French, Otto's has carved out a niche for itself because of a serious bit of kit called the duck press. This dish sees the breast sliced, then the rest of the duck (bar the legs) pressed in the special screw press giving a juice to which Cognac and duck liver are added before it's poured over the rare slices which finish cooking in the sauce. Both very rich and very pricey (£140 for two) but, by all accounts, like nothing else in town.
8-10 Pollen Street, London W1S 1NQ
Jason Atherton, at this stage, is arguably the most successful restaurateur in London with an empire that continues to grow without diminishing the quality of its offering. But the original, Pollen Street Social, remains the place to go if you want to get the very best of Atherton. This was one of the first London restaurants to add a separate dessert bar and the cocktails are a huge highlight too. The set lunch here remains a perfect introduction.
92–94 Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3EA
The Quality Chop House, which has been open since 1869, at one point looked in danger of disappearing forever before it was lovingly restored by Will Lander and Josie Stead. Now it's both a restaurant and wine bar (with deli attached) featuring menus that are created in the morning based on what's been delivered. Come for the very best of British cooking, or just as easily pop in for charcuterie or wine or to pick something up from the adjoining butcher and deli.
Thames Wharf, Rainville Road, London W6 9HA
It may have originally been the canteen to Ruth Rogers' rather well known architect husband's company, but this is now about as far from a works canteen as it's possible to get. Set down a leafy residential street, with gardens stretching down to the Thames, the River Cafe turns out beautiful Italian food with the best produce at an eye-watering price. You get what you pay for - it's just a question of whether you can afford the price tag.
26 St John Street, London EC1M 4AY
St John seems to be an unofficial finishing school for some of London's top chefs - so many of them have worked in the original or at Bread and Wine. But Fergus Henderson's original is seen by many as one of the very best restaurants in London and a perfect example of nose-to-tail British cuisine. It's also well worth popping into the bar for seedcake and Madeira and to try some of the separate bar menu dishes if you want a taste of the place without the full pricetag.
201 Tooley Street, London SE1 2UE
Tucked behind Tower Bridge and in the shadow of The Shard, Tom Sellers' literary-themed restaurant is a must-visit. The building was purpose built for Story and it's an elegant dining room, Story got its first Michelin star mere months after opening and Sellers is gunning for his second. The set lunch is great value, but you're going to want the half or full tasting menu, not least because that's the one featuring Sellers' legendary beef dripping candle.
12 Jerusalem Passage, London EC1V 4JP
While there are a few very good sushi restaurants in London, this tiny Clerkenwell restaurant is viewed by many to be the holy grail. The trouble is that it's the very devil to get into, seating only seven and bookings are like gold-dust. They open the list a month in advance and there is a waiting list - so be prepared to be lightning fast when it comes to calling the minute the lines open.
83-89 Fieldgate Street, London E1 1JU
This Punjabi restaurant has been around since 1972 and its reputation seems to be getting ever greater. The restaurant is undeniably great value and before chops became a thing, Tayyabs were doing some of the best lamb chops in London. It's BYO - which enables you to make up for what you're saving on the food by bringing a rather decent bottle of wine.
55 Jermyn Street, London, SW1Y 6LX
This restaurant is older than America. If you need another reason beyond that to entice you, then the brilliantly-sourced seafood and game is one, the impeccable cosseting service another. Sit up at the freshly done up oyster bar if you're just popping in for bivalves or nab yourself a corner table and watch the captains of industry at play as you spoon Stilton souffle into your mouth. Leave room for one of the more extensive savouries courses in the country.