Are These London Restaurants Worth The Hype? guide image


Are These London Restaurants Worth The Hype?

Find out whether the spots you're always hearing about are worth your time and money.

London has a lot of hyped restaurants. Places with views of the city trending on TikTok. Overexposed classics your uncle in Norfolk went to years and years ago. Restaurants that you keep hearing about. Again. And again. And… again. Some are good, some are not, and some are fun enough that it doesn’t matter. So before you decide to wait in line or make that 5pm dinner reservation, consult this guide.


photo credit: Sketch

Sketch review image



9 Conduit St, London
View WebsiteEarn 3X Points

The Verdict: Heinous—and that’s just the egg-shaped toilets.

Sketch is one of the most famous restaurants in London by virtue of its toilets, which sums up everything you need to know about this naff Mayfair restaurant. Its upstairs dining room is home to three Michelin stars (whatever that means) but its Gallery room is the one most people flock to for herd mentality reasons. The food is experimental in a rummage-through-the-fridge-at-3am type of way and, typically, charges you an arm and a leg for the displeasure of it. As far as waste-of-time dining experiences in London go, this may well be the worst.

The Verdict: Outrageously overpriced and—bar the croissant—kind of gross.  

Cédric Grolet, the French pastry chef behind this bakery at The Berkeley hotel, has nailed marketing in the age of TikTok. Video after video of him making croissants and other pastries immediately go viral, whether that’s for the visually satisfying results or his crisp boxy tees that have inspired Reddit threads. But look past the hypnotising videos and IRL, you’ll find overly sweet £25 cookies and overpriced pâtisserie that’s style over substance, in a very beige-looking Knightsbridge cafe inside one of London’s priciest hotels. While the croissant is good, things like a Snow White-esque green apple filled with an unpleasant dill and apple concoction mean it’s not somewhere to go out of your way for.

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The Verdict: Beautiful, stylish, and somewhere you should definitely eat at least once.

Getting a prime-time table at Sessions Arts Club, arguably London’s most fashionable spot, is the restaurant equivalent to a last-minute ticket to Glastonbury. From the grand, dilapidated ballroom interior, to the elegant Vogue cover-worthy European-ish plates, everything about Sessions feels slick and sexy. Lunch tends to last all day here and dinners all night—which goes some way to explaining why tables that aren’t at 2pm or 5pm are so hard to get. The food, while lovely, isn’t the star—but if you want a day or night to remember, this is the place.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

The Eight review image

The Eight

Earn 3X Points

The Verdict: It’s by no means a total flop, but it’s certainly not worth queuing for.

The Eight has all the tells of a restaurant that’s done the rounds on TikTok: an anaconda-ish queue outside, phones poised on almost every table, and the distinct sense that you must have missed something as you pay the bill. The Hong Kong-style teahouse on Shaftesbury Avenue isn’t a dud, but its overly snapped aesthetic and swirling volcano eggs with curry aren’t good enough for you to pitch up outside either. The signature pineapple bun is light and sweet, the roasted meats aren’t up to par with other spots in Chinatown and, for the price you’re paying, you can do a lot better for the most part.

The Verdict: Wildly expensive, but still lives up to its legendary status.

The River Cafe is one of London’s most acclaimed restaurants, for very good reason. It was the first place to really do Italian cooking as it should be done, all in a dining room that was modern in the '90s but now is unique to itself. Of course, the fact it’s on the Thames makes this institution special during summer but, really, it has an aura all year-round. The prices are high, the pizzetta is delicious, and, in the shape of its light-as-a-feather chocolate nemesis cake it has one of London’s most famous desserts. Special occasions always have that extra special feel to them when The River Cafe is involved.

Verdict: A reliable classic, Dishoom has become an integral part of London’s food scene.  

The first Dishoom opened in 2010 and over 10 years later it’s still near impossible to get a walk-in only dinner reservation that you don’t need to sneak out of work early for. And as frustrating as that can be, we still find ourselves queuing outside their Carnaby street location when we have a craving for that spicy chicken ruby curry, or their Kensington spot when we’re in the mood for the buttery keema pau. Despite having six locations across London, it’s still as popular as ever. And you know what? We get it. The combination of home-style Indian cooking, vibey retro surroundings, and excellent cocktails means that Dishoom has become a reliable, always exciting London staple.

The Verdict: A waste of time, money, and a nice outfit.  

The clubstaurant of all clubstaurants, Sexy Fish’s reputation reaches far beyond this city. You don’t come to this Berkeley Square spot looking for value for money, or in search of London’s best sushi. This is an OTT, Damien Hirst gyrating mermaid art-filled restaurant with velvet jacket-wearing waitstaff who look like they’ve had a permanent headache since their first shift. Probably thanks to the DJ whose job it is to make any conversation about how underwhelming the crispy duck is impossible to hear. It can be fun for all of about 45 minutes, or until the fact that you’ve spent £80 per person on some mediocre food sinks in. 

The Verdict: Equal parts delicious and silly—in the best way.  

Big Mamma—the restaurant group behind Gloria, Ave Mario, Jacuzzi, and Circolo—have cracked the formula. Every restaurant feels like it has its own theme, and perhaps the most Instagrammed and sought-after of them all is Circolo Popolare. The massive main dining room is basically fake Sicily on steroids. The walls are covered in thousands of bottles of spirits, there are more fairy lights than you can count, and carbonara is swirled around a big wheel of pecorino at your table before being plumped on your plate. It’s larger than life, and while the food at this Fitzrovia trattoria is actually really great—we could eat the mafaldine al tartufo once a week—the stunning interiors are the reason you should set your alarm to book a table here. 

The Verdict: Worth it to feel like a member of Donatella Versace’s posse for a couple of hours. 

Love it or hate it, you’ve heard about Jacuzzi, probably tried to book it, and it’s definitely a repeat offender on your TikTok and Instagram FYP. Like its other loud, Big Mamma group siblings, Jacuzzi walks the tightrope between glamorous and a bit tacky. The dining room is decked out in chandeliers, semicircle booths made for date night selfies, and such a large selection of indoor plants that we fear for local garden centres. The food ranges from “eh?” to “that’s actually decent”, but you can’t deny the unapologetic fun of it all. You’d have to be actively attempting not to enjoy yourself to not have fun here.

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