Go on Google Maps, type in Mayfair, hit enter, and you’re presented with a sort of square with feet. The outline of London’s most expensive area looks a bit like it could waddle off from the rest of us if it wanted to, and you wouldn’t be surprised if it did, would you? If one morning the news announces that Mayfair has risen on giant, gold, bionic, diamond encrusted legs, and trotted off to somewhere with better weather and a port. Just you watch.
Until that happens you should make the most of it, because Mayfair is an area full of excellent places to eat and drink (that won’t lead you to take out a mortgage). Here are some of our favourites.
Like finding a tenner in some long lost jeans, coming to Bibi feels like making the ultimate discovery. Hidden in plain sight on a corner just seconds away from the chaos of Oxford Street, this Indian spot is small but significant, with a menu of incredibly designed dishes, from melt-in-your-mouth orkney scallop in a tangy lemonade dressing to a tender grilled chicken in a cashew and yoghurt whey sauce that you’ll want to lick off the plate. We could also gush about the counter seating, or the fun gola mocktails, but the reason you should come here—and the reason you’ll definitely return—is for the sensational food.
At Ikeda there’s a personal note from Paul Simon by the toilets. There’s one from Steven Spielberg (and other celebrities) too. Fergus Henderson says it’s one of his favourite restaurants in London. But those aren’t the reasons to go to this old school Japanese spot in Mayfair. The sushi and sashimi is. Ikeda’s supreme assortments are just that. Each one comes with a mix of fatty to very fatty tuna, yellowtail, octopus, and more. It’s delicious, high-quality fish that melts away until you’re mourning it. And, importantly, the rice is also perfect. Warm and with a touch of vinegar, you’ll want to get a hand roll packed with the stuff. Aside from the famous friends downstairs, the restaurant is extremely lowkey. Plain walls and polite service. But, if you can get a seat or two on the counter opposite the chefs, then you’ve done very well. Also, it’s worth knowing that Ikeda is expensive. But it’s also very worthwhile.
Across the road from Green Park is Hide, a £20 million mega-restaurant-thing that feels like it’s intent on taking over the world. The interior of this place, based on the park opposite, is the vision of a Bond villain who was tormented by bark as a child. There’s just so much wood. It’s really quite something. The ground floor, aptly named Ground, serves from breakfast to dinner. Some dishes are quite lovely - agnolotti, crab tart, and a bit of grilled octopus, but it should also be on your radar for its downstairs bar, cleverly named Below.
Mayfair is one of the few places on the planet where a café could sell fresh truffles at the till and it make sense. Case in point: Hideaway, a somewhat casual chandelier-clad café from the people behind excellent fine dining restaurant, Hide. Although that truffle, caviar, and champagne by the till is a very classy touch, it’s the food here that’s the real star of the show. The lobster roll is one of the best in London, their selection of baked goods is second to none, and the coffee is so rich and flavourful that you’ll shed a tear for every mug of instant Nescafé you’ve sadly sipped in the past. Out front you’ll also find the world’s bougiest waffle station, not to mention several Range Rover’s swinging by for their morning truffle croque madame. It’s also worth noting that this place is a ten-minute stroll from Green Park, so you can always hit it up for a big-deal picnic and get that 10/10 lobster roll to takeaway. An order of the beeswax canalé won’t hurt either.
Some restaurants are simply superb at being restaurants. They’re excellent at serving delicious food that you wouldn’t usually eat, and that also makes you think ‘blimey I’ve eaten’. Plus they have an atmosphere to match. Kitty Fisher’s is one these. This is a classic establishment in all senses, aside from the fact it’s only been around a few years. This is a place to unashamedly splurge in. On food, drink, and loud conversation.
When you go out to eat you don’t usually expect to have an invigorating experience, often you’re relying on a particularly funky Aesop soap in the toilets for that, but at Scully that’s exactly what you get. From the moment you’re given a bowl of spiced chickpeas, the food in this modern St. James restaurant acts a taser for your taste buds. There are heaps of vegetables, herbs, and charred bits of meat and fish, and everything here is completely unique but similar in that they contain excessive amounts of flavour. The space itself is slick and comfortable, but evenings on the counter are your best bet. Whatever time of day you come, it’ll be the food that steals the show.
The first thing you need to know about this upmarket Chinese spot is that they’re serving some of the best dim sum in London. Think creative takes on prawn toast, excellent soup dumplings, and prawn cheung fun you’ll happily ghost their decent duck for. This place is huge, with leather seating, an amber-clad bar, white table cloths, and some pretty hefty price tags - it’s perfect for a business meeting that’ll impress your boss’s boss or splashing out on a whole lot of dim sum on your day off. The atmosphere is a little dull, but what it lacks in buzz it makes up for in baked venison puffs.
If you haven’t eaten in the Wolseley then frankly you’re doing London wrong. This is a truly classic establishment. Its setting is about as grand as you can get, and the food is decent as well. Come for a classy breakfast or brunch, and pretend this lifestyle is complete normality for you.
There was a time when Langan’s was renowned for Mick Jagger sightings and full-throttle eighties parties. Michael Caine was a co-owner, the drinks were strong, and the paparazzi were always buzzing about on the pavement hoping that Joan Collins might get flirty with Marlon Brando. These days, Langan’s is under different ownership and has definitely calmed down. An all-day spot open from 8 until late, it’s your classic Very Good Looking Brasserie with colourful artwork on the walls and white table cloths that are inevitably destined to be covered in foie gras and Moët. Expect slick service, Mayfair prices, and if you’re heading here first thing, excellent pancakes.
If you’ve accidentally left your bowler hat on the bus, there are a couple of places in Mayfair that will welcome you as your scruffy self. Delfino’s Pizzeria is one of these places. It’s casual, inexpensive, and the food is all very solid. A really top pizza or pasta here won’t cost you much more than a tenner. Just don’t go expecting Mayfair-style decor or service, everything here is far too rough-and-ready for that.
A casual tapas restaurant that serves suckling pig with five different types of fried potato you say? Where do you book? Well you can’t at the counter in Sabor, which is an all action bar area serving up some excellent tapas. But if it’s the pig you’re after you can head upstairs to the Asador, which is a little more formal but still very fun. This place is loud, proud, and probably not what people think of when they think of Mayfair.
Mayfair has a fair few fine dining restaurants, but Pollen Street Social is perhaps the best of the lot. This isn’t stuffy like a lot of fine dining places, and you don’t feel like you’re chained to the chair for a four hour meal, which is always a plus. The set lunch is priced at under £40, and for what you get this is quite a deal. It’s an excellent choice for special occasions, or as a treat for your parents.
Gymkhana is one of London’s best Indian restaurants. The food and atmosphere manages to be both refined and unprecious simultaneously. Wild Muntjac Biriyani and and soft shell crab are must orders. They’re the kind of things you’ll think about wistfully when taking your grandchildren out for a McDonalds in the future, because you spent all your money on this meal.
Another Indian fine dining spot, Jamavar isn’t as knock your socks off good as Gymkhana is, but it’s still lovely. The atmosphere is sort of ‘rich person’s dining room’ with lots of mirrors and gold detailing, but it’s not stuck up. Again, you’re going to be forking out £20 for a bit of butter chicken as it’s a pricey place. But, you know what, it tastes really, really good.
Mayfair is really quite a destination for upmarket Indian food. Bombay Bustle is probably on the more casual end of this spectrum, but that doesn’t make it any less good. The achari lamb chops here are mighty tasty, and a must order. Whether it’s at the bar or sitting down, this a very tasty and comfortable restaurant for everyone.
When you first walk into Ruya’s dining area you realise that, bizarrely, you can’t see the other end of the room. It’s like the world’s longest swanky corridor, complete with bar area, and three separate kitchen areas. Once seated you’ll get some some fairly tasty, if a little overly refined, Anatolian dishes. The aubergine crisps are particularly nice, and the kebabs are cooked excellently.
The Colony Grill Room is a brasserie inside The Beaumont Hotel, serving everything from a dressed up hot dog for £11.50 to a whole lobster and fries for £47.50. Yes, there’s enough gold detailing and black and white portraits of 30s screen sirens to remind you you’re in Mayfair, but the food is actually both very tasty and home-cooked comforting. Grab one of the leather booths for a breakfast of buttermilk pancakes or come in the evening and make your way through their vast whisky collection, Don Draper style.
Mayfair may be one of the few places on the planet where it’s easier to buy a tiara owned by a tsarina, than an affordable lunch. Luckily, Ergon Deli has £4.90 homemade pies, salads and cold and hot meze dishes starting at £5. This Greek deli also has a good collection of peinirili, which are basically boats of dough filled with egg, feta and meat. Open from 8am to 7pm, they’ve also got you covered for breakfast and dinner dishes, from honey yogurt bowls to octopus on hummus.
Sexy Fish is the restaurant equivalent of a hotel mini-bar. At first it’s fun and novelty. Then you realise you’re paying a tenner for a normal lager. And then you start thinking about who would use this regularly. No, you’re not one of them, are you? Before you know it you’re in a world of dirty regret, and vow never again. But. There’s always a chance when you’re drunk.
When it comes to flashy and glitz, Park Chinois is as “#Mayfair” as you can get. It pays homage to old-school dinner and dance clubs for the rich set in Hong Kong, and it delivers on that promise. You’ll find sexy red velvet and gold all over the shop, and a live brass band playing swing remixes of Beyonce and Bruno Mars (which is legitimately awesome). It mainly caters for those who fly to Paris by private jet just to grab some croissants for breakfast. Because they are ‘#blessed’ with ‘#wealth’. But if you manage to ignore the reality TV stars, the bloke who is watching a live feed of the footie on his phone whilst having dinner with his blinged-up wife, and the perfectly fine Chinese cuisine at nosebleed prices, you can actually have a pretty decent night here.
There are many flash restaurants in Mayfair, but Murano sits firmly in the classy bucket. The Italian food is refined, the wine list is refined, everything is refined. So refined it verges on boring. It’s definitely worth taking your significant elders to though. They will have a lovely time.
When it comes to old-school restaurants, you always have to ask the question: has this place still got ‘it’. In the case of Scott’s, one of London’s oldest seafood restaurants, the answer is: sometimes. Scott’s is at its best on a summer’s day, out on the terrace, downing wine and oysters at someone else’s expense. At it’s worst, it’s an expensive way to eat overcooked fish.
Titu is one of the area’s best value for money spots. This tiny gyoza specialist on Shepherds Market will feed you extremely well for around £40 including drinks. Obviously there are cheaper gyoza out there, but remember that this is Mayfair, and so the gyoza in question are filled with wagyu beef and foie gras. Just don’t go here for a quiet or intimate conversation, unless you want everyone in the restaurant (including the servers) to get involved.