9 OTT Restaurants For Your Main Character MomentWhen you need a restaurant to set the scene for another big act in the film called Your Life, here’s where to go.
Some meals are about the company, others the food, and then there are some occasions that are, quite simply, all about you. The main character in a little script entitled Your Life. Only some restaurants can live up to this kind of narrative pressure, though. The kind of restaurants that understand that not every meal is run of the mill and not every person is made equal. When you need a restaurant to set the scene for another big act, here’s where to go.
Outside of the vaguely Butlins-esque performers who croon and cavort around Park Chinois’ two floors, there is no one more important in this Mayfair restaurant than you. It’s impossible not to feel it, because it’s what everyone at this gargantuan, wannabe-glitzy but faintly grubby, Cantonese restaurant feels. Most surprising of all is that some of the food, particularly the £100-plus signature peking duck, is also fighting you to be the star of the show. Still, if you avoid the pumping club downstairs, the Disney-ish take on a regal red dining room above is the kind of silliness that can be leaned into.
Ever since Bistrotheque opened in the early 2000s, people have flocked to its whitewashed, industrial chic room in the hope of one day becoming the subject of a five-sentence anonymous tip to Popbitch. The Bethnal Green restaurant has got it all: pleasant but secondary Mediterranean-leaning food, a canvas-like aesthetic for your new Shrimps coat, and perfect acoustics to reverberate what (and who) you did last night and how badly your head is pounding. The beauty of Bistrotheque, and what gives it its longevity, is that pretty much everyone in the room is doing the same thing. And the bloody marys are pretty good too.
With Matisses and Picassos on the wall, Mount St. Restaurant is the kind of place to remind the world that the most prized work of art of all is you. Yes, you who recently found two loose McNuggets in your coat pocket. Not everything about this British restaurant in Mayfair is perfect, but that’s where you enter. Gliding around the terrazzo floor like it was created for yours truly, tucking into a lobster pie with a Lucian Freud hanging behind you, because that is the kind of life you lead—eating soufflé at midday on a Wednesday because you can. To your left there’s a disgraced MP, to your right there’s a Real Housewife Of Somewhere, and in the centre of everything… is you
There’s something quite Guy Ritchie about Brigadiers. Not early, Vinnie Jones, ‘awight son’, era Ritchie. But the later, shinier, Hollywood stuff where there’s an inexplicable cameo from Jonah Hill as a Brooklyn-born fishmonger who sells to one of London’s best Indian restaurants. But the only problem is, he’s got into a bit of a (lime) pickle. The only way to sort this kind of thing out would be to lean into the ridiculousness of everything, which is exactly what Brigadiers does. The City restaurant has a whisky vending machine, a pool room, an oil painting of Maradona, and BBQ butter chicken wings so good that they deserve more than a cameo role in your meal.
Hide, in Mayfair, is the kind of multi-million-pound restaurant you should go to if your main character moment is being Le Chiffre from Casino Royale. Do your best chic villain impression as you dab at your weeping eye with a 600-thread-count napkin, eat an eight-course tasting menu of modern European dishes that includes hand-picked crab in a lime leaf broth, and order a nebuchadnezzar to be sent to the hottest person in the room. Because that’s just how you roll. More of a Bond? Take the private lift up from the car park or ascend the insane, sweeping oak staircase for a suitably OTT entrance to this blow-out restaurant overlooking Green Park.
The drama at British restaurant, Sessions Arts Club, begins with your glamorous, brass lift ride up to the dining room where you’ll be seated next to ornate columns and beside peekaboo arches. The walls of this Clerkenwell restaurant are distressed but gorgeous, just like you after waiting five months for this booking. There’s a grand piano, so many candles, and the bathrooms have the kind of individual hand towels people use to take off their Chanel concealer in Vogue skincare tutorials. All around you people wearing non-descript clothes that cost more than your average two-bed flat, and eating graceful forkfuls of lamb, champagne, and lovage, or blood orange sorbet underneath hanging chandeliers.
Bob Bob Ricard is where to go big in Soho and overdo it on selfies and the Siberian caviar dégustation, but that’s OK because this is your moment. You want your own leather booth and a button that says “press for champagne”, and preferably gold ceilings and desserts with sparklers in them—just all round unforgettable, unnecessary opulence. For once you aren’t sitting on that weird, drafty table by the loo, you’re in an art deco fever dream that you never want to wake up from. But you will, probably with a hangover, because the last thing you remember is pouring champagne into your truffle pie like it was gravy while hitting that button for another glass.
We all remember the time a certain singer/songwriter got turned away from Sexy Fish for wearing a hoodie and The Daily Mail hired three new writers to cover the “story”, right? Well even if your brain doesn’t maintain useful information like that, the moral is that there will be no hoodies here. Because if this Asian fusion Mayfair restaurant was a person, it would be a big, over the top, naff one. Which is great news for you—it means all the paid extras (other diners) won’t ruin the background of your perfectly curated selfies with their Adam Sandler-esque wardrobes. While the food is mostly overpriced and underwhelming, it is, undeniably, a fun place to be. So embrace what feels like a Star Wars cantina brought to you by the producers of Love Island, try to avoid making eye contact with the naked mermaid sculptures, and make a grilled cheese toastie when you get home.
If you’ve felt like you were born in the wrong decade ever since you read The Great Gatsby in your GCSE English class, you need to spend an evening at Quaglino’s. A grand, jaw-dropper of a hall hidden beneath Bury Street in Mayfair, this place has been serving stylish debauchery and cocktails since 1929. There’s a sweeping amber staircase that you should descend slowly and ideally with your mate casually filming you from the bottom step (#candid), a live band performing the best of the Rat Pack, and big European brasserie classics with a handful of surprise twists à la avocado rolls thrown in. Sit down, start merrily toe tapping, get involved in a hefty £50 côte de boeuf, or just some nice little nibbles from that glowing bar. It’s time to party, baby.