22 of the best Covent Garden restaurants

"Когда весь мир настроен против вас, вспомните, что самолет взлетает не по ветру, а против него." Генри Форд ©
Время на прочтение: 24 минут(ы)

The area surrounding Covent Garden’s covered market used to be a culinary desert, all grey steaks, chain restaurants and tired old tourist traps. But all of a sudden Covent Garden has become a foodie destination in its own right, staking claim to some of the best restaurants in London. To find them, we’ve put together our edit of the best restaurants in Covent Garden. For the latest restaurant openings in London, subscribe to our foodie newsletter.

  • 22 of the best Covent Garden restaurants

    Petersham Nurseries

    London’s chicest garden café spawns a sibling in central London

    Shop the interior pieces from Petersham Nurseries online with Maison Flaneur

    Read the full review in our round-up of London’s best restaurants

  • 22 of the best Covent Garden restaurants

    Kebab Queen

    A secret chef’s table serving kebabs unlike any you’ve seen before

    Thought we’d seen every iteration of a speakeasy imaginable in London by now? Think again. Young-gun team Stephen Tozer along with Edward Brunet and Manu Canales, who worked together at Michel Roux Jr’s two-Michelin-starred Le Gavroche, are behind clandestine fine-dining joint Kebab Queen. Serving a six-course kebab-inspired tasting menu in the heart of Covent Garden, it takes the London craze for fancy kebabs and expands the idea as far as it will go. It’s hidden below street level at Maison Bab, the follow-up to the trio’s first restaurant Le Bab (which opened on Carnaby Street in 2016), with a façade that’s a convincing reimagining of a typical British takeaway, down to the flickering fluorescent sign. Enter through a kitchen and duck into the dinky dining room, where the similarities with a dodgy fast-food place end. Ten bar stools are set around a bar with a front-row view of the open kitchen under pink neon lighting. Here, head chef Canales cooks his refined take on the post-pub classic over an open fire. There are no plates or cutlery: dishes are served straight onto the countertop, which is kept warm to double as both table and plate (it’s sprayed down with vodka disinfectant between each course) and guests are encouraged to eat with their hands to really emulate that authentic kebab experience.

    FOOD

    The six-course tasting menu is the only option available, directed by Canales who explains each dish as he moves along the bartop to serve diners individually. First, Ibérico secreto, a cut of pork favoured by Spanish butchers that’s under the radar in the UK, is silky soft after being briefly chargrilled over the flames and coated in a crispy couscous, followed quickly by a smoky, barbecued slither of foie gras. The doner risotto takes the notion of rotisserie meat a step further; rich and with a depth of umami flavour, it really does taste like a proper kebab. After a quick palate cleanser of blood orange and Grey Goose sorbet, Canales serves up chargrilled monkfish on a charred cabbage leaf – heated at the countertop with a huge cast iron – that packs a punch with fresh chilli and crispy chicken skin for a crunchy texture. The main event comes in the form of impossibly thin slices of spit-roast duck, served as a deconstructed (very posh) traditional kebab with pickled vegetables and salad, and sweet chilli and garlic sauce. Pudding is perhaps a little stodgy to follow five meaty courses, but the vanilla buns, drenched in a sticky, caramelised milk sauce, are too deliciously comforting not to finish.

    DRINKS

    Go for the tasting flight, which matches a line-up of slightly unexpected drinks with each course. It kicks off with a classic Riesling, while a sherry is paired with the foie-gras kebabito. A rich and slightly spicy Golden Mullet Fury orange wine cuts through the richness of the risotto wonderfully, and a London Beer Factory IPA matches the monkfish, which the team found a better pairing than wine. A milk soda cocktail made with more Grey Goose finishes the evening off as a sweet accompaniment to the pudding.


    VERDICT

    You’ll keep talking about this leftfield but truly delicious meal long after leaving. By Sarah James

    Address: Kebab Queen, 4 Mercer Walk, Covent Garden, London WC2H 9FA


    Telephone: +44 7751 240029


    Book online

  • 22 of the best Covent Garden restaurants

    Nutshell

    Refined Iranian cooking amid the buzz of Covent Garden

    Read the full review in our round-up of London’s best restaurants

    Address: Nutshell, 30 St Martin’s Lane, Charing Cross, London WC2N 4ER


    Telephone: no telephone number


    Website: nutshelllondon.co.uk

  • 22 of the best Covent Garden restaurants

    The Barbary

    A spicy taste of the Mediterranean in Neal’s Yard

    The Palomar is a rare thing – a restaurant that’s as buzzy now as it was on opening night. Now the owners (two former nightclub owners and two Israeli chefs) have created something even more exciting with The Barbary in Covent Garden. Chef Eyal Jagermann has come over from The Palomar, bringing with him the same sense of fun and faultless cooking, taking inspiration from the Barbary Coast of North Africa and Jerusalem. Prepare to queue for one of the 24 seats at the horse-shoe bar counter surrounding the tiny kitchen – even at 6.30pm on a Tuesday evening.

    FOOD

    While you wait for a seat order some flaky pastry cigars stuffed with fish and a round of pita pouches of lamb as comforting as mittens in winter. ‘Ouch’ is the cry from diners who tear too readily into the just-baked pillow of naan – but to catch it fluffed up is absolutely worth scorching speedy, greedy fingers for! Use it as a vessel for melted tomatoes and divine baba ganoush. It’s difficult to separate stand-out dishes but the charred octopus tentacle and neck of pata negra pork are both contenders. A talking point round the bar, the pistachio-filled ‘hashcake’ comes with the satisfyingly smoky aftertaste of a joint.

    DRINK

    Nothing that could detract or overpower. East London Liquor Company gin and tonics are served with a slice of grapefruit and the Zweigelt goes with pretty much everything on the menu.

    By Hazel Lubbock

    Address: The Barbary, 16 Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden, London WC2


    Book online

  • 22 of the best Covent Garden restaurants

    The Scratch menu, Spring, Somerset House

    Leftovers reimagined at a London landmark restaurant

    Perhaps the prettiest restaurant in London is hidden in the splendour of Somerset House. Through an archway in the New Wing of the former public-record office is an atrium planted with trees in bronze pots and a bright and spacious pillared dining room with hanging clusters of giant, bubble-like lightbulbs. Nab a seat in a bay-window banquette overlooking Waterloo Bridge and don’t skip a trip to the pink-tiled bathrooms. It’s not just Spring’s decor that’s got us drooling though. Aussie chef Skye Gyngell (previously at London’s Petersham Nurseries) is tackling the issue of food waste with her pre-theatre Scratch menu that reimagines last night’s leftovers in ingenious ways.

    FOOD

    The three-course set menu changes daily, depending on surplus from service the night before. Expect delicious, simple food (without any frills) conjured from the best organic and seasonal ingredients. Beetroot tops and potato skins might be turned into soup, served with warm bread made from yesterday’s boiled porridge oats. There could be a colourful shredded salad with buttermilk dressing, or labneh made from milk heated for coffee which would usually go to waste. A main might be a roasted saddle of rabbit on a pillowy bed of white polenta, or homemade pasta baked and oozing with leftover cheese. Puddings include bread sponge with tangy Fern Verrow gooseberry jam or a gooey meringue with blackcurrant ice cream and twinkly, sugar-coated berries.

    DRINK

    Fresh and seasonal ingredients extend beyond the kitchen. For summer there’s a Bellini with rhubarb, lime juice and prosecco, and a perfectly blended Scotch cocktail with citrus, Cointreau, homemade marmalade and lemon juice. Coffee connoisseurs should go for the Sweet ‘C’ Martini, with Hine Cognac, Crème de Cacao, double cream and Allpress coffee. And for those not drinking alcohol there’s Sicilian lemonade, bergamot and green-tea soda, and a pear and ginger juice.

    VERDICT

    At £20 a head, the Scratch menu (available between 5.30pm and 6.30pm daily) is a happy (and very affordable) way to experience Gyngell’s enchanting set-up.

    By Alice Riley-Smith

    Address: Spring, Somerset House, New Wing, Lancaster Place, London, WC2R 1LA


    Telephone: +44 20 3011 0115


    Book online

  • 22 of the best Covent Garden restaurants

    Frog by Adam Handling

    Whizz-bang British cooking in the West End

    Goodness they like to fuss over you at Frog By Adam Handling in Covent Garden, the latest (semi-eponymous) opening from the young-gun Scottish chef. (You know you’re in for a treat when your handbag gets its own little stool beside you at the table.) This is a restaurant that does things theatrically; the open kitchen is brightly lit like a stage and all the tables seem to point towards it to take in the chefs’ performance. And floor staff – of whom there are almost as many as diners – move around like a well-choreographed dance troupe.

    FOOD

    Yet nothing feels try-hard or pretentious, and this is because of the food: impressive in wizardy flourishes such as dry ice and shells as spoons (to scoop up apple-spiked razor clams); but beneath it all just so darn delicious. Billed as British with an Asian twist, the cooking here is masterful. And Handling is big on sustainability; many of the ingredients are grown at the restaurant’s farm in West Sussex. Dishes are served by different members of the all-white chef’s team, and kick off with sublime snacks of beef tartare on seaweed crackers, smoky cod roe and great big slabs of bread with whipped-up chicken butter that tastes of a roast dinner. Other highlights include citrusy kingfish with a kick of jalapeno, a celeriac, date and truffle dish that Handling invented for his mother (it tastes like the silkiest pasta) and melting pork with kimchi and charred cauliflower. A dessert of refreshing cucumber sorbet and blackberry sponge is topped with frozen meringue spooned out in a smoky haze at the table. Dramatic till the end.

    DRINKS

    Sure, there are wine and cocktail pairings with the tasting menu. But even more unusual is a non-alcoholic-cocktail option. And rather than sickly sweet side notes, these are well-thought-out drinks that are designed to really enhance the flavours on your plate. Each one is based on a tea, so there’s earthy beetroot, black tea and fennel with that rich celeriac, and apple, ginger, sencha and charred sage with the pork. The sommelier even shows you each bottle before it’s poured – it’s all very grown-up.

    VERDICT

    At £65 for five courses, this is surely one of the best-value tasting menus in town; big flavours, just-right portion sizes, happy-making from start to finish.

    By Grainne McBride

  • 22 of the best Covent Garden restaurants

    Red Farm

    A playful dumpling joint has crossed the Atlantic

    Landing just off London’s Covent Garden Piazza, USA-transfer RedFarm fits instantly with its surroundings (it is, after all, just down the street from fellow NYC expat Balthazar), a glossy, black-fronted restaurant with a small queue of people waiting outside. Inside, the light-filled room is dominated by a communal pine table and plenty of red gingham (hence the ‘Farm’). It’s the third RedFarm opening, the first outside of Manhattan (the others, opened by Joe Ng, are on the Upper West Side and in the West Village). A well-heeled crowd is made up of Americans with bundles of shopping bags, chic business women entertaining clients and pretty young things documenting everything on their phones. It could be in danger of veering into see-and-be-see’ territory but that’s avoided by super-attentive staff and a buzzy atmosphere. No one is taking themselves too seriously – least of all the chefs.

    FOOD

    The menu is substantial, offering enough memorable starters, salads and dim sum to fill you up before you’ve even moved onto the mains. To navigate it deftly, we’d recommend trying the classic spicy crispy beef and an order of the pastrami egg rolls. In the USA, this trademark dish is stuffed with Katz’s Deli meat; in the UK, Monty’s Deli pastrami is packed into the crunchy shell. Don’t dismiss ordering the Pac Man shrimp dumplings. They might be a social media hit, and yes, they are utterly bonkers (a deep-fried wedge of sweet potato, with a blueberry ‘eye’, looms over four candy-coloured dumplings), but filled with tasty fish and served on smashed avocado, they’re also completely delicious – and coloured naturally with ingredients such as beetroot. These aren’t the only good-looking item on the menu: the soup dumplings come with a candy-striped straw to slurp out the crab filling. For main (if you still need one), the roast duck with wide noodles is full of smoky flavour (and big enough to share between two), while the sautéed green beans and sprouts are as far from a sad Christmas day side dish as you can get. Determined to squeeze in pudding? The custard bao may be pillow-soft, but it will still have you waddling home. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

    DRINKS

    Cocktails are on the blow-out side of most budgets but special enough to justify ordering at least one while you scan the menu. We tried the punchy Manhattan of London (Bulleit rye, Carpano Antica vermouth, angoustura bitters) and the Shanghai Mule; sweet and tart, made with vodka, goji berry, ginger syrup and lime. The Comte de Provence rosé comes highly recommended by the waiters: we were sceptical, but the sweetness matches the big flavours of the food brilliantly.

    VERDICT

    If you like your supper taken seriously, book elsewhere. This is a tongue-in-cheek, quirky take on a classic Chinese, with a menu to make you smile, and a loud, tinkly atmosphere that makes it perfect for a group.

    Address: RedFarm, 9 Russell Street, London, England WC2B 5HZ


    Website: redfarmldn.com

  • 22 of the best Covent Garden restaurants

    Cora Pearl

    Zhuzhed-up comfort food

    Somewhat on the sly, Henrietta Street – running off the tourist- and human-statue-chocked Covent Garden Piazza – has become a proper foodie hotspot. First Frenchie landed from across the Channel, the London spin-off of the Paris restaurant of the same name that kickstarted the bistronomy movement. Then more Parisians arrived, with the Experimental Cocktail Club’s playfully retro Henrietta Hotel, with – a total coup – Ollie Dabbous in the kitchen. Dabbous might have moved on to his ambitious new restaurant Hide, but Cora Pearl, is sure to cement the street’s place as one of London’s buzziest place to eat. The frenziedly anticipated follow-up from the team behind Kitty Fisher’s, Cora Pearl is also named after a well-known 19th-century British-born courtesan, who (fittingly, given her new neighbours) plied her trade in Paris. This alluring little spot certainly ensures a good time too, with a jazzy, bluesy soundtrack humming gently over the turning of rattan ceiling fans above bottle-green velvet banquettes. Bag one of the booths in the window to survey the scene.

    FOOD

    At Kitty Fisher’s it was all about the wood-fire grill, but here chef George Barson (who now oversees both restaurants) applies a lighter touch to the menu but with a similarly simple, ingredient-led style. The snacks and starters are somewhat interchangeable, aimed at sharing by arriving – at least for us – individually as they ready. Creamy pasta parcels of cow-curd agnolotti are cut with the summer-garden freshness of a puddle of pea purée and a satisfying crunch of walnuts. Prettily presented slices of blackened mackerel are dotted with tangy Bloody Mary tomato. And the cheeky comfort food of a cheese-and-ham toastie is elevated with tender pulled-pig jowl and Montgomery cheddar in fried-bread fingers. For the main, a gloriously fat, flaky chunk of curried cod partners up beautifully with a rich devilled crab. And what is fish without chips? Here they are perfectly crisp but fluffy, garlic- and thyme-flavoured, triple-cooked, fat Jenga blocks of potato; just the right size and shape to also soak up the last of the little pot of Bordelaise sauce that comes with the flushed-pink veal fillet. Afterwards, decadently, there are more desserts on the menu than mains, including a trifle for six, but it’s the cherry-topped round of Earl Grey ice cream with buttery frozen sablé that will make you really swoon.

    DRINKS

    ‘Great love affairs start with Champagne and end in tisane’ advises Balzac on the first page of Cora Pearl’s drinks menu, but we take that diktat with a twist and begin downstairs in the rose-tinged cocktail bar with a Howitzer (apricot brandy, orange juice, Saliza Amaretto, tarragon and Champagne) served in a vintage French coupe to get in the mood. The wine list is clever, interesting and wholly European: plenty from small, organic and low-intervention vineyards and more than half, including a number from the reserve cellar thanks to clever Coravin, offered by the glass, so do explore.

    VERDICT

    An instant classic: smart cooking in a seductive setting. Book now, and book to go back at the same time – this one’s going to be another sell-out.

    By Fiona Kerr

    Address: Cora Pearl, 30 Henrietta Street, London WC2E 8NA


    Telephone: +44 20 7324 7722


    Website: corapearl.co.uk

  • 22 of the best Covent Garden restaurants

    The Delaunay

    A handsome Covent Garden hangout to hunker down in

    There are edgy, experimental restaurants from the next young-gun chef to get excited over; there are backstreet joints that seat five people where the only contact details are an Instagram handle; and then there are those classic places where you can book a table and know, never-failingly, that you will be looked after very well indeed. The Delaunay – the brassy Viennese-style brasserie from restaurant supremos Corbin and King – is one of those places. The Covent Garden restaurant is always twinkly and humming; it feels old-world European and yet properly British; it’s where parents meet their son’s girlfriend for the first time, and Tina Turner fans kick up their heels with a pre-theatre menu. The menus are big as a broadsheet, the giant French Antiquité clock is as round as the moon. There are age-spotted mirrors, long-aproned waiters and low lighting that makes it feel as if you’re sitting in a delicious jar of honey. It’s an all-day affair where you’ll want to stay all night.


    FOOD

    For good reason, the prawn cocktail with avocado is the most popular dish on the menu: plump king prawns in a tangle of crunchy iceberg lettuce and a generous helping of Marie Rose sauce, made in-house with a kick of brandy, all served in a silver bowl. Citrus-cured salmon tartare is another standout starter, to be scooped up in smoky mouthfuls on crunchy melba toast. To follow there are super-sized schnitzels topped with a fried egg, lamb goulash with nobbly spätzle noodles and beef stroganoff with buttery rice – take the advice of the lovely Italian waitress Monica and order a side of pickled cucumber to cut the gutsy richness of it all. You’ll think you’re too stuffed for pudding until you spy the sugar-dusted dessert delivered to the table beside you in a copper dish – kaiserschmarren, as it turns out, a confection of shredded pancake with a tangy plum compote named after a sweet-toothed Austrian emperor.


    DRINKS

    The lengthy list has all manner of wines, served in bottles or magnums, as well as vintage Champagne, fine sherry and tawny port. With the fishy starter, the Chablis from Bourgogne is nicely dry and mineraly. As befits the Mittel-European origin of the mains, there’s a hearty Hungarian Syrah, and to finish, a syrupy Tokaji from the same corner of the world.


    VERDICT

    Gorgeously grand and starched in all the right places, The Delaunay is a trusty name to have in your London address book.

    By Gráinne McBride

    In order to see this embed, you must give consent to Social Media cookies. Open my cookie preferences.

    Address: The Delaunay, 55 Aldwych, London WC2B 4BB


    Telephone: +44 20 7499 8558


    Website: thedelaunay.com

  • 22 of the best Covent Garden restaurants

    26 Grains

    Celebrated porridge-loving café stays up past its bedtime with a new supper menu

    If ever a food needed reinventing, it’s porridge. Gloopy, lumpy old porridge, the stuff of boarding-school nightmares, scooped endlessly out of fairytale pots, swiped by bear-provoking girls and stared at mournfully by the prison population in Paddington 2. So that’s exactly what Alex Hely-Hutchinson did, spending a year learning the ways of the pre-soaked grain in Copenhagen, then launching her Old Street pop-up, where she stirred in layers of berries, seeds and savouries and attracted fans including Michael Fassbender and Maggie Gyllenhaal. A permanent café followed, next to Neal’s Yard Remedies in Covent Garden, a slip of a Scandi-styled place with brisk service, tables outside and carved wooden bar stools beside the counter. Earlier this summer, Hely-Hutchinson introduced a supper menu: no porridge, but the same focus on simple, carefully sourced ingredients and unfussy yet photogenic presentation. It’s to be mentioned in the same breath as places such as Shoreditch restaurant Rochelle Canteen.

    FOOD

    For those tired of the kerfuffle of small sharing plates and endurance-test tasting menus, this is a godsend. There’s just one supper menu with a starter, main course and pudding – no choice and no theatrical backstories of which farmer grew which radish. It takes Elizabeth David’s directive of stripping back the non-essentials and runs with it. Creamy burrata scattered with toasted hazelnuts and served with hunks of sourdough from Bermondsey’s artisanal Little Bread Pedlar; impeccable, flaxen-soft tagliatelle and rigatoni, stirred through pungent sauces of mushroom and walnut, tingly crab arrabbiata salted with samphire, or aubergine ragu; and scoops of ice cream or sorbet. It’s the sort of food you imagine cooking up at home but never quite manage to.

    DRINKS

    Options are surprisingly wide-ranging, from a lemon and tarragon Collins cocktail to IPAs and a hibiscus soda – and a great rosé by the glass.

    VERDICT

    An easy-going summer hangout for those seeking to escape the tyranny of choice. By Rick Jordan


    Address: 26 Grains, 1 Neal’s Yard, London WC2H 9DP


    Telephone: N/A (no booking)


    Website: 26grains.com

  • 22 of the best Covent Garden restaurants

    Eneko at One Aldwych

    Basque theatrics in Covent Garden

    You hear the happy hum of this subterranean restaurant – London’s latest, hottest Basque Country arrival – as soon as you escape the hubbub of the Strand through the huge cast-iron Edwardian doorway. Down you go along a gleaming copper staircase past the mezzanine bar to the dining room where exposed steel pillars and spot-lit, scarlet booths make for a dramatic yet somehow laid-back vibe. This is the first London outpost of Eneko Atxa, the young-gun Basque chef whose Azurmendi restaurant in Bilbao is in the world’s Top 20. Wearing black hi-tops with his chef’s whites, he roams around the tables, chatting and smiling and seeming totally relaxed. Just-opened Eneko has been eagerly awaited by the capital’s foodies – more than 3,000 emails requested bookings when it first soft launched. No pressure for Atxa, then.

    FOOD

    ‘Innovative and informal’ is the tagline for the food here. But this belies the incredibly beautiful presentation and precise cooking behind every dish. A highlight is the artful Memories of the Bay Biscay starter, with wild-prawn tartare and intensely flavoured crab. Spoiler alert: it’s served with a blanket of sea-scented mist that covers the table. The all-veggie Traditional Talo, with heritage tomatoes and micro-herbs, is as pretty as a flowerbed; the roasted Iberico presa (pork shoulder) comes, medium-rare pink, on a slate with a slick of sticky chickpea sauce. And there’s a dessert trolley that looks like a dresser from a designer kitchen carrying goodies such as chewy raspberry macaron with delicious Kermit-green, gooey basil ganache.

    DRINKS

    Stick with the Basque Country and try wines from Gorka Izagirre, the vineyard the chef runs with his uncle in the Vizcaya region around Bilbao. Start with the crisp white G22, a traditional txakoli wine, before moving onto the buttery-yellow, citrussy 42. Sipping wine and happily sinking deeper into your booth as the dining room empties, you completely forget the hectic city life overhead.

    By Grainne McBride

    Address: Eneko, One Aldwych, London WC2B


    Telephone: +44 20 7300 0300


    Website: eneko.london

    Read reviews of more Covent Garden restaurants

  • 22 of the best Covent Garden restaurants

    Cinnamon Bazaar

    One of the best Indian restaurants in London serving inventive small plates in Covent Garden

    When Cinnamon Club opened in the grand, Grade II-listed Westminster Library in 2001, it was an instant game-changer – a stylish restaurant that championed Indian fine dining in a city still dominated by cheap takeaways and boozy Brick Lane curry houses. Now its executive chef, Vivek Singh, has created Cinnamon Bazaar, which ignores the straitlaced, gentlemen’s club ambience of his first venture for something altogether more eclectic. Cinnamon Bazaar is a joyous riot of colours and flavours: the menu jumps from Indian street-food classics to regional specialities and British colonial cooking; the dining room dazzles with burnished gold, twinkling lights and acres of rosy fabric, like an ornate Bedouin tent straight out of Arabian Nights.

    FOOD

    The menu saunters through South Asia following ancient trade routes that stretch from the Middle East and Afghanistan down to India’s central heartland. Start with the Kolkata crab bonda, cloud-light croquettes stuffed with flaky crabmeat and beetroot, before crossing the subcontinent for Iranian chicken haleem on masala sourdough toast. These small plates are best paired with a tangy chaat – sweet and sour pots of potatoes, chickpeas, yogurt and spices topped with swirls of tamarind chutney. The Jodhpuri one with onion dumplings and curried white peas is particularly moreish, but picky eaters might prefer to call over the restaurant’s chaat trolley for a more personalised experience. Singh’s main courses are equally experimental and reveal unexpected, far-flung influences. The fragrant shrimp fried rice is garnished with bok choy, slow-cooked pork belly zings with coriander and fenugreek, and the tender vindaloo of ox cheek recalls the days of the Raj with its decadently rich, meaty flavour.

    DRINKS

    Skip the wine list in favour of the quirky, jewel-coloured cocktails designed by White Lyan’s Ryan Chetiyawardana. Adventurous diners will be delighted by his inventive riffs on traditional Indian desserts: the Falooda Swizzle combines the sweetness of a North Indian rose-flavoured pudding with gin and creme d’abricot; the Gajar Army & Navy with carrot-infused Colombo Gin and honey-cashew orgeat tastes like gajar ka halwa (a Punjabi pudding with candied carrots). Traditionalists should stick to the Bazaar Old Fashioned – a combination of smoky scotch, coconut sugar and burnt cinnamon so smooth you could almost justify a liquid lunch.

    By Radhika Seth

    Address: Cinnamon Bazaar, 28 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, London WC2E


    Telephone: +44 207 395 1400


    Website: cinnamon-bazaar.com

  • 22 of the best Covent Garden restaurants

    Kaspar’s at The Savoy

    A classic seafood restaurant by the River Thames

    In 1926 The Savoy introduced a novel policy to allay the fears of superstitious guests dining in a group of 13: it would set an additional place to round the unlucky number up to 14. That place was occupied by a cat named Kaspar, three-foot tall and made of wood. Winston Churchill, a lifelong Savoy freak, adored him.

    FOOD


    Executive chef Holger Jackisch recently took over from James Pare, but the seafood side of the menu remains much the same – the most conspicuous change is the addition of Weiner schnitzel, a nod to Holger’s Teutonic roots. Keep it simple (and sibilant): scallops, sole, citrus syllabub…

    DRINKS


    … and Champagne. The wine list is terrific, and practically everything on it is available by the glass, half-bottle or carafe. Ask the sommelier to pair your wine with each course – this works just as well with Champagne as with any other wine.

    THE HIGHLIGHT

    The drama of the Art Deco design? The smiling, unstuffy service? Or the fact that they put a cat in charge of a seafood restaurant?

    By Steve King

    Address: Kaspar’s at The Savoy, Strand, London WC2


    Telephone: +44 20 7420 2111


    Website: kaspars.co.uk

  • 22 of the best Covent Garden restaurants

    BRYN WILLIAMS AT SOMERSET HOUSE

    The eponymous Welsh chef opens a restaurant in one of London’s most iconic creative spaces

    Williams, with both Michel Roux Jr and Marco Pierre White schooling behind him plus the early career highlight of having been selected to craft the Queen’s 80th-birthday fish dish, has earned a reputation for being one of the UK’s most exciting, and affable, young chefs. Now his latest venture shines a light on his love of fruit and vegetables: he passionately believes they should not exist as ‘second citizens’ in the kitchen after meat and fish, and has put them front and centre of his seasonal and sustainable menu at Bryn Williams at Somerset House, which opened in March 2018. He’s even positioned grand framed vegetable portraits on the wall of the high-ceilinged period space, in which tables are spaced out so as to enable entirely private conversation amid a bubbling atmosphere.


    FOOD

    First mention must be made of the homemade soda bread and salted butter. This table offering has already made a name for itself: Williams received complaints when he dared to temporarily remove it. Taste it and the passion it stirs is understandable: warm, soft, doughy and covered in wheat flakes, it sits somewhere between a fresh muffin, a scone and a bread roll. Peppy bright green wild garlic soup leads the charge for the starters, served in a strongly comforting earthenware bowl with pink-fir-apple potatoes and crème fresh. Spring salad options include the equally confident Drumhead red cabbage, jammy beetroot chutney and dreamily rich British burrata. Among the mains, the grilled hispi cabbage works beautifully as yin to the pork chop’s yang, just as flavourful as the cut of meat it’s served beside. And the rib-eye steak is no ordinary menu top dog: it arrives crowned with a complex array of vegetables, including field mushrooms and confit shallots – and devilish, triple-cooked chips. End your feast by ordering one of London’s best desserts, the lavender meringue, lemon posset, lavender and blueberry ice cream – it’s beautifully sweet, light and makes a pretty combination of pastels on the plate. Alternatively, the chocolate pavé, almond and blood orange is a lighter, zestier way to finish.


    DRINKS

    The vegetable party dances off the food menu: cocktails include Savory Beet (beetroot, bourbon, lemon, sugar and a dash of egg white), Sweet Old Fashioned (rhubarb-infused gin, rhubarb-flavoured sugar and old decanter bitter), and Rabbit on a Sidecar (carrot juice, brandy, triple sec and a cheeky hint of ginger). Wine options, meanwhile, include Slovenian and South African grapes alongside the French and Italian old guard.


    VERDICT

    Bring your vegetarian dates to this special Somerset House, Thames-side setting, but also your carnivorous cavalry – Williams has managed to cast fruit and vegetables as his lead stars but won’t alienate London’s meat-eating masses.

    By Becky Lucas

  • 22 of the best Covent Garden restaurants

    SUSHISAMBA

    An ideal spot for date night

    It’s not quite as high up as the original London restaurant, which is on the 39th floor of the Heron Tower, but the group’s second opening does have some pretty good views. It’s located in the Grade-II market building’s Opera Terrace, in the middle of the Piazza, and the design is very smart – as soon as you walk in you’re struck by the soaring glass ceiling draped with tropical greenery and the graphic, monochrome tiled floor. The menu – Japanese, with influences from Brazil and Peru – is potentially hard to navigate as there’s so much on there. Large plates, including black cod and sea-bass tempura are delicious, but also pricey – so we recommend you pick and choose between the small plates (perfect shrimp tempura with snap-pea julienne and a decadent black-truffle vinaigrette, crispy lobster taquitos) and the sushi rolls (California maki rolls made with snow crab and Cornish brown crab, avocado and sesame, tuna belly with pickled wasabi and shiso leaf). And the puddings are even prettier than the rest of the menu – we loved the chocolate banana cake with maple butter, thin curls of plantain and vanilla rum ice cream. Save supper at Sushisamba for a special occasion and you’ll be pleased you did.

  • 22 of the best Covent Garden restaurants

    Frenchie

    Chef Gregory Marchand (nicknamed ‘Frenchie’ by Jamie Oliver, who he worked under at restaurant Fifteen) brought Frenchie to Covent Garden’s hip Henrietta Street after its success as a restaurant, wine bar and deli in the Sentier neighbourhood of Paris. The space challenges the traditional French bistro concept – both with its Scandi-inspired interiors, and its dishes. Choose from a five-course tasting menu, or share small plates including duck foie gras with pickled girolles, cherries and pine nuts, and ricotta tortellini with smoked eel and elderflower. In keeping with its roots, Frenchie is passionate about its wines, so ask the sommelier for pairing tips. Keep this one in mind for someone special – it’s one of our picks for the most romantic restaurants in London.

  • 22 of the best Covent Garden restaurants

    The Ivy

    A Covent Garden classic that’s ideal for celebrity spotting

    Nowhere does old-school class quite like The Ivy, and you’ll need to dress for the occasion. The restaurant reopened in 2017 after a ridiculously expensive refurb by the Martin Brudnizki Design Studio for its 100th anniversary. Executive Chef Gary Lee’s new menu celebrates its most loved dishes with some Asian-inspired additions such as popcorn shrimp and scallops with sticky pork and shiso leaves. Traditionalists should order the cream-laden shepherd’s pie – it’s been on the menu pretty much since the start and is as rich (and delicious) as the restaurant’s history.

    Address: The Ivy, 1-5 West Street, Covent Garden, London WC2


    Telephone: +44 20 7836 4751


    Website: the-ivy.co.uk

  • 22 of the best Covent Garden restaurants

    Café Murano

    Homemade pasta in a relaxed setting

    The little sister of Angela Hartnett’s Michelin-starred Murano in Mayfair, Café Murano, is a laidback take on traditional Italian fine dining. Sit up at the smart marble-trimmed bar or recline on leather banquettes and start with golden balls of truffle arancini or a pea-and-hazelnut-pesto bruschetta doused in ricotta salata. A beautiful artichoke heart comes with lemon cream and a soft burrata with just a hint of spice from roasted Romano peppers. There’s a primi pasta menu which is so good you might want to plus-size it: sausage and fennel ragu with homemade conchiglione; lamb shoulder on pappardelle; broad-bean and ricotta ravioli. Squeeze in a main; Milanese veal escalope comes with rocket and parmesan, spatchcock baby chicken with fennel, radicchio and walnuts. For pudding pick up fresh cannoli from their Pastificio next door.

    Address: Café Murano, 36 Tavistock St, London WC2E 7PB


    Telephone: +44 20 7240 3654


    Website: cafemurano.co.uk

  • 22 of the best Covent Garden restaurants

    Balthazar, London

    A New York-style buzz comes to London

    This is the first outpost of Parisian-style brasserie and New York institution Balthazar. Expect French classics such as bouillabaisse and côte de boeuf; and, from the bakery, gorgeous cakes, quiches and pastries that taste as good as they look. The original is in every Manhattan guidebook and always far too busy to be a walk-in-and-dine place – and it’s no different at its London sister.

    Address: Balthazar, 4-6 Russell Street, London WC2B 5HZ


    Telephone: +44 20 3301 1157


    Website: balthazarlondon.com

  • 22 of the best Covent Garden restaurants

    Margot

    Old-school Italian in the West End

    They say first impressions matter, and being welcomed by a suave dinner-jacket-donning Greek gentleman called Vasilis is as good a start to a meal as any. Setting expectations high, the charismatic service doesn’t stop there, and neither does the elegant set up at Italian restaurant Margot. Head chef Alessio Piras’s pasta is not to be missed, his regional menu polished and unfussy – from the buttery, rich ravioli parcels served simply with toasted hazelnuts, to the chicken wrapped in delicate Parma ham and tucked into a bed of sage and shredded rapini – while the wine list is as long as the wait for food was short. The unfeasibly light burrata starter and the formaggio being whisked past us to other tables made us long for more room to accommodate a platter – this copper-trimmed, leather-boothed, jazz-infused space is the ideal place to drop in for cheese and wine before hitting the West End. By Anna Prendergast

    Address: Margot, 45 Great Queen St, London WC2B 5AA


    Telephone: +4420 3409 4777


    Website: margotrestaurant.com

  • 22 of the best Covent Garden restaurants

    J Sheekey

    An iconic seafood restaurant

    Star-studded photographs line the walls of A-list favourite J Sheekey, tucked away in St Martin’s Court. The glitzy oyster and champagne bar and adjoining fish restaurant have been in business for more than 100 years, and have earned serious foodie credentials on the London restaurant scene. Fish is fresh and kept simple: smoked salmon with a squeeze of lemon; lobster mayonnaise with a crisp green salad; and market fish, grilled or pan-fried, with seasonal vegetables on the side.

    Address: J. Sheekey, 28-32 St Martin’s Court, Covent Garden, London WC2N 4AL


    Website: j-sheekey.co.uk

  • 22 of the best Covent Garden restaurants

    Christopher’s

    Modern American fine dining

    Christopher’s is where well-heeled Americans go when they have a touch of homesickness and a hankering for surf’n’turf. It’s a grand old place in an imposing Georgian building – once London’s first legal casino – with a discreet entrance that suggests a private club, and indeed the martini bar on the ground floor feels like one. Then up the beautiful candle-lit spiral staircase, to an elegant dining room, with panelled walls painted grown-up dark grey, furniture on-trend yellow.

    Service is formal, the atmosphere hushed. It has the feel of a members bar; despite its theatreland location it is quiet midweek – perhaps the prices are high enough to keep out the show crowds (though there is a theatre menu).

    The food is superb, and so is the wine. Steaks are a speciality and come from all over: Kansas, Scotland, Australia, Wagyu from Japan. There is lobster, grilled and thermidor; delicious Maryland crab cakes, Missouri lamb, Boston baked beans. It’s Modern American and, like modern America, it’s truly international: the raw bar features delicate carpaccio, ceviche, tartare. And what you will wake up pining for the next morning is not home, but the Chocolate Brioche French Toast (pictured), rich and puddling with chocolate sauce, and somehow gone in seconds.

    Address: Christopher’s, 18 Wellington Street, Covent Garden, London


    Telephone: 020 7240 4222


    Website: www.christophersgrill.com

  • 22 of the best Covent Garden restaurants

    Beso

    A fun, Moorish supper

    However sociable you happen to be feeling, there’s a seating situation for you at Beso. Choose between individual high stools at the busy bar or facing towards the stream of people outside; a triangular table at the centre that’s ideal for tequila-tasting or plate-sharing; or one of the two- or four-seaters made from wood and steel surrounding it. The decor is eclectic: artworks on the walls include a large portrait of two women with mad Medusa hair mid passionate kiss, and there are church-style windows and mismatched light fittings elsewhere. Loud funk, soul and jazz classics, plus a low level of chatter in a dozen different languages, provides the soundtrack; there’s a definite dip in volume come theatre kick-off time.

    The food itself has a Moorish-Mediterranean zest, with crunchy chickpeas and hummus or spicy sausages to start, followed by a pulled-beef burger covered in Parmesan in a buttery bap that is by far the messiest meal we’ve ever had (tip: do not even attempt to cut it in half), or perhaps the deliciously fatty, juicy lamb. The beloved London bar is equally ambitious – don’t be afraid to challenge them with an off-piste cocktail or request they select the wine to match your meal. Like your own little dining-room pied-à-terre, this is a sweet little find right in the heart of Covent Garden-meets-theatreland. By Becky Lucas

    Address: Beso, 190 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8JL


    Telephone: +44 20 3972 8888


    Website: besolondon.com

    More from Condé Nast Traveller:

    In order to see this embed, you must give consent to Social Media cookies. Open my cookie preferences.

    Like this? Now read:

    The best Shoreditch restaurants

    The best Shoreditch restaurants

The best restaurants in Soho

The best restaurants in Soho