Where To Eat When You Want To Go *Fancy* guide image


Where To Eat When You Want To Go *Fancy*

Because sometimes hearing the life and times of the garden pea on your fork makes it taste better.

Fancy restaurants can be very silly. Everyone knows that. From the tweezer obsession, to the staff’s silent and die-hard commitment to your hydration, to the last words of a single leaf of radicchio you hear before eating it. It’s all OTT. But sometimes, OTT is what you want. Maybe it’s your birthday, or an anniversary, or you’re just in the mood for someone to lift the lid off an extravagant bowl to reveal one single holy water-boiled chickpea. Whatever the reason, if you just want to be in a restaurant and eat food that feels a bit fancy, these are the spots for you.


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4 The Polygon, London
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Trinity is a Clapham restaurant that serves British fine dining food. It’s split into two levels, with a more casual upstairs. The downstairs, all Farrow & Ball vibes with duck green walls, is where to book for special occasions, if you’re into delicate plates that look like they should come with a Do Not Disturb sign. The food ranges from pretty to pretty-bloody-delicious, and we once had a palm-sized, hand-raised short rib pie here that made us shed a single tear of joy.

A meal at Roji, a 10-seater omakase restaurant in Mayfair, is one to save for an important anniversary, or a big job promotion. Or if we had nine friends who had serious money to drop on dinner, we’d save it for an epic, blowout dinner party that no one would forget. There’s a refined feel to the space, with a wooden counter, concrete serving blocks, and ceramic plates. From the first seasonal course of the evening to the eight rounds of nigiri, it quickly becomes clear just how excellent the fish is. There isn’t a single dud on the menu, with excellent ingredients—like sea urchin and fresh buckwheat noodles—put together with the same care and attention to detail as a perfectionist mother-in-law inspecting your dusting.

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Red and carpeted or gold with wood panelling, it doesn’t matter where you get seated in Gymkhana, the whole place screams, money honey. The Mayfair restaurant is entirely worth it for Indian classics that will stay with you long after your final bite. Standouts like the soft shell crab with crunchy bhel (puffed rice) or the wild muntjac biryani feel impressive, but not in a way that will stop you from happily demolishing it, and then ordering another one. This is an expensive, upscale experience, but it’s also some of the best Indian food in the city. 

There’s fancy, then there’s fancy and feeling like you’re on day four of an exceptional holiday in Oaxaca with a tan and a mezcal margarita in hand. Introducing Kol, a high-end Mexican restaurant in Marylebone that is warm, creative, and the perfect setting for a truly unforgettable meal involving octopus and bone marrow tortillas. The confident service, inventive takes on Mexican classics, and endless supply of ceramic dishes will make sure you feel like you’re doing the whole fine dining thing, just without any of the navel-gazing fuss.

Although it adheres to all of the usual fancy restaurant tropes—white tablecloths, concerningly engaged staff, classic plates of food that likely have their own blueprint—Pollen Street Social manages to feel kind of relaxed. Yes, a series of unexpected snacks will appear but no, you don’t always have to pay three figures. Considering you’re sitting in a Michelin-starred Mayfair restaurant, and the food (and the song and dance around it) is very good, it’s pretty good-value.

At Hunan you don’t choose the menu, the menu chooses you. While that sounds a little like J.R.R Tolkien might be the restaurateur behind this place, it just means this is a no-menu Chinese restaurant. Straddling Chelsea and Pimlico, this spot has a ‘trust us’ policy (you can call ahead with allergies) and the results are excellent. Deep-fried green beans, crispy pork that comes in a tearable paper bag, duck pancakes, and banana fritters with ice cream. It’s Cantonese in a Victoria finishing school environment.

Endo’s 16-seat omakase bar in White City serves sushi that will make you regret eating anything else for the rest of your life. Less of a restaurant and more of an interactive eating experience, everything here is led by Endo—the headline act and head chef—while members of his backing band expertly prep rice and chat tuna before handing you an eye-twitch-inducing piece of six-day-aged otoro nigiri. Every course you’ll be served—from miso soup, to outstanding raw fish, to wagyu beef—will make you pause, savour, and wonder. Wonder whether it’s worth shelling out for a once-in-lifetime-experience? At Endo, it is.

Ikoyi is a West African fine dining restaurant by the Strand, and one of London’s most consistently exciting restaurants to dine in (in a fancy AF environment). The food on Ikoyi’s menu mixes European cooking techniques with big Nigerian spices and other West African flavours. You can expect to see takes on dishes like jollof rice and suya on the menu.

This fancy West African restaurant in Fitzrovia is serious about flavour. Akoko’s takes on boli and epa (plantain and groundnut) and miyan taushe (pumpkin soup) will have you wistfully blinking into the middle distance and wondering if tomorrow is too soon to come again. It isn’t. Atmosphere-wise it’s cool and comfortable, while still being serious about food (and explanations).

photo credit: Giulia Verdinelli

Casa Fofó imageoverride image

Casa Fofó

Unlike most of the restaurants on this list, Casa Fofó is a neighbourhood restaurant. It’s a low-key tasting menu restaurant in Hackney making an always-changing menu of delicious and indefinable food. Expect eight courses of things like potato in chuggable, fermented tom yum, or a bowl of plain-looking pasta that turns out to taste like the very essence of oyster and chilli. The only decision to make is who to come with, and we’d recommend a date, as this is one of E8’s most intimate restaurants.

There are two superlative-laden white-walled British restaurants around Shoreditch. One is St. John Bread and Wine—which is simultaneously a little fancy but utterly unfussy—and the other is Lyle’s, which is both fancy and fussy when it comes to food. And that’s what makes it so good. The tasting menu reads simply—razor clams and tomatoes, fore rib and onions—but that isn’t to say it tastes simple. Every ingredient at Lyle’s is turned up to the max and, with nothing else to focus on in the industrial space, it’s the food that’s the centre of attention.

Hide is the kind of gloriously OTT restaurant that feels like it’s the lovechild of a Russian billionaire and one of the world’s most revered wine boutiques. Overlooking Green Park, Hide Above is where you’ll find their fine dining tasting menu. It’s formal without being stuffy, and rather than silence and tweezer food being the order of the day, this place is committed to classy excess fuelled by things like hand-picked crab in a deliriously fresh lime leaf broth and an expert wine pairing experience that is second to none. 

Core By Clare Smyth is exactly the place to get involved in fine dining if you’re someone who, shockingly, actually wants a proper meal. Headed up by a chef whose CV reads like The Michelin Guide To Planet Earth, this converted townhouse in Notting Hill feels like your quietly fancy friend’s living room (read: candles, books, tasteful foliage, and plush grey seating). The food will be a tour of excellent but familiar British produce, tweaked in interesting ways, and combined with the occasional unusual ingredient that will make you say “why have I never eaten a potato topped with herring and trout roe before?”. 

Social Eating House is a low-lit room that’s equal parts impressive and relaxed, with just a hint of that Soho buzz. No matter what you order you’re guaranteed to receive something that looks more like a Rothko than dinner, but trust us, just pop it in your mouth and you’ll be happy. If you’re looking to go all out, then book a coveted seat at the chef’s counter to watch your hazelnut scallops and lamb with ricotta cream be prepped directly in front of you. Any meal here should absolutely be rounded off with an expert cocktail at their basement bar, The Blind Pig.

There are a whole host of reasons you should visit this sophisticated restaurant on Charlotte Street in Fitzrovia. Mere is a fine dining spot that runs like clockwork, and the tasting menus are packed full of French classics with a touch of South Pacific flavours. Think duck smoked in manuka honey with sweet pickled cherries and a pistachio crumb. The space is very tranquil, so we’d say this place is best reserved for special occasion dinners with the family and impressive meals with people who are into organised fun. 

We challenge anyone to come to Launceston Place and not consider hiding under your white cloth-covered table in the hopes that you can just live in this charming townhouse forever. It’s on a quiet corner in Kensington, and our favourite thing is that despite serving things like pigeon with blackberry jus and duck liver parfait, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Case in point: the miniature Henry hoovers that suited servers use to clear crumbs from your table, and the confit potatoes that arrive in mini shopping trolleys. There’s a whole lot that will make you smile, least of all the truly spectacular food.

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