14 London Restaurants For When You Want To Get *Cosy*
Candlelight, open fires, and deeply comforting food that will help you survive the winter.
Are you deeply miserable or are you just cold?
That’s the question we like to ask ourselves around this time of year, usually while developing hypothermia in a denim jacket that should have been retired around September. Yes, the weather may be terrible and you’re probably rocking the vitamin D levels of a naked mole rat, but the good news is that these London restaurants are ready and waiting to help you get cosy. Think open fires, comforting food, and lovely quaint candlelight that will totally mask the fact that you’re wearing an Ikea blanket as a scarf. Here’s to making the most of the cold weather.
photo credit: Karolina Wiercigroch
The walls of this old-school British restaurant are covered in portraits of people who lived a long, long time ago in an era we like to think of as BEB. That’s Before Electric Blankets. See, that should put your suffering in perspective. Outside of quaint old paintings and its long history of serving the people of Kensington pie when they’re cold, Maggie Jones’ booths are perfect for bedding in for several hours with a bottle of red wine and plates of rich British classics. Don’t skip our reigning queen of cosy desserts, the signature crumble.
photo credit: Sam A Harris
The word ‘nice’ has a bad rep. It’s a word you use to describe people you go on exactly two dates with and never speak to again. But Cadet, a matchbox-sized Newington Green wine bar, is just so… nice. The smiles are large, the plates are small, and the servers are always ready to top up your glass with something crisp and fizzy. Never underestimate the cortisol-dropping potential of lazily spreading mousse de canard while you scroll through Uniqlo’s fresh drop of cashmere beanies on your phone. It’s very, very nice.
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photo credit: Giulia Verdinelli
You know when you wrap your hands around a novelty mug—”Not Today Satan” in Comic Sans, can’t beat it—and blow on your tea for a bit, and think wow, I really am so good at winter? Take that feeling and add deep-fried panelle, beaujolais, and single malt whisky into the mix and you’re on your way to understanding the allure of Llewelyn’s, a postcard perfect neighbourhood restaurant in Herne Hill. Make one of the simple black booths your home for the evening and get involved in the ever-shifting seasonal menu with hearty winter staples like pumpkin, borlotti, and a jolly glug of amaretto on your dessert. Cold month perfection, achieved.
Any good psychiatrist will tell you that true intimacy is cuddling up to a dough ball. On a completely unrelated note, our therapists regularly tell us that we’re prone to misinterpreting key information. Anyway, this effortless Florence-inspired restaurant in Clerkenwell is all about minimum fuss and maximum satisfaction. Think old-school red checked tablecloths, classic pastas done right, and glorious hunks of luciously sweet and bitter tiramisu. Sit back, relax, and get involved in the aptly named ‘doughball cuddles’.
My Neighbours The Dumplings
Candles are the key to surviving the winter blues. At least that’s what we like to tell ourselves while investing in our 12th cinnamon spice candle of the season. You’ll find a whole lot of long candles merrily jammed into old wine bottles at this cool, cosy dim sum parlour in Clapton and importantly, great har gau, siu mai, and crispy won tons too. Be sure to order the steamed cake with banoffee sauce before you leave. Caramel sauce is critical for your energy levels to manage the freezing bus ride home, right?
This one goes out to anyone who would genuinely rather play footsies with Matt Hancock than be cold but also refuses to, even vaguely, dress for the weather. One day, scientists will study you—a 10 denier pair of tights pinned under a microscope—but for now we suggest spending your evening reclining on the red leather banquette seating in Casse-Croûte. A charming French restaurant on a polite corner of Bermondsey Street, the blackboard of mains offers you a one-way ticket to an imaginary destination we like to call Butter Chaud. The menu changes daily but you can expect timeless French classics loaded with cream, comté, and other gloriously calorific things that will stop your teeth chattering. Yes, even if it’s four degrees and you’ve made the sensational choice to wear denim cut-offs.
Hill & Szrok
Spending a winter’s night in a butchers sounds like the beginning of some terrible modern take on Sweeney Todd that ‘really highlights the bloody nature of capitalism’. No thank you. So when we say that Hill & Szrok is a butchers that should rank highly on your list of go-to warm and comforting spots, please rest assured that we aren’t casually luring you to your death. It really is lovely. Come night it gets transformed into a charming neighbourhood steak place with quality British ingredients and plenty of French wine. Plus, it’s nice to be able to add ‘drank great orange wine in a butchers’ to the list of things you accomplished this winter.
In our opinion, any restaurant that encourages you to order two bread baskets instead of one has a deep understanding of how to make the most of the bleak London winters. Notting Hill’s Sinuhe is exactly that kind of restaurant and everything from the mixed grill meats for two, to the big Persian stews have the power to stop your incessant ‘do I have Seasonal Affective Disorder’ googling habits. A round of the aubergine dips won’t hurt either.
The Cadogan Arms
When you’re averaging six hours of daylight per week, it’s nice to feel fancy. We’re pretty sure that’s how the British aristocracy was invented. Probably. Maybe. Definitely not, but the fact remains that The Cadogan Arms is a show-stopping pub on the King’s Road that will keep you toasty and give you an excellent excuse to crack out your nicest knitwear. On the menu, you’ll find satisfying tarted-up pub classics like hand-raised pork pies, slabs of steak with clotted cream mash, and a delightful sticky toffee pudding. Just be sure to request a table in the back dining room by the fire when you make your booking.
Knees touch and hearts flutter at Oren. A teeny tiny restaurant on Shacklewell Lane, this is probably our favourite place in London to share body warmth and smoky amba chicken thighs. The sharing menu goes from sweet marinda tomatoes to Jerusalem mixed grill and a sensational pistachio hummus quicker than you can say “obviously we’re spooning later”. Cuddle up in the candlelight and then let a rotation of challah and olive oil do the charming.
The Drunken Butler
If our petty little dreams came true then The Drunken Butler in Clerkenwell would start a Cold Londoner Relocation Programme, so that we could spend the entirety of the winter living in this homely and artsy restaurant. Come evening, this dimly lit sanctuary of mismatched chairs with jazz on the speakers is the perfect place for a winter date night or pretending you live here with your favourite friends. Food-wise you can expect a brilliant, creative mix of French and Persian food. It’s a set menu situation but trust us, you’re in safe hands.
Raclette is popular on ski slopes. Ski slopes are pretty much always cold places. Do you see where we’re going with this? Make like a rich person whose daddy just happens to have a lodge in Aspen and hit the hot cheese. Hit the hot cheese hard. La Ferme in Clerkenwell is a charming little French restaurant that just so happens to serve all you can eat raclette for £29 per person. All of the wooden banquette seating and kitsch countryside knickknacks will really help feed into your alpine fantasy too.
Nothing, absolutely nothing, is cosier than an open fire. This is the exact thought we have every single time we make the great decision to go to Smokehouse on a chilly evening, and feel like we’ve escaped to one of the home counties. This Islington pub is even complete with roaring fires and a blackboard listing the best cuts of meat. It’s also worth knowing that there are some great vegetarian options and the roast is one of the best in London.
Yada’s covers many of our cold weather survival words: stew, shawarma, bread, homely, BYOB. A Kurdish restaurant in Peckham, it even has something called ‘falafel beauty’ on the menu, which is very in keeping with our self-care aspirations for the coming months. For peak cosiness, request a table near the open kitchen and spend some quality time with the platters that feature deeply life-affirming things like pomegranate and walnut stew, soft lamb, stuffed vegetables, and pistachio hummus. The best part is that this place is really affordable and we all know that’s handy when your heating bill is haunting you.