10 Restaurants That Feel Outdoors For When You’re Not Outdoorsy

Spots that feel outdoors—with foliage, glass conservatories, and airy views—without actually being outdoors.
10 Restaurants That Feel Outdoors For When You’re Not Outdoorsy image

photo credit: Joe Woodhouse

For every person taking exaggerated lungfuls of air and exclaiming “ahh, the great outdoors”, there’s someone whose tear duct is receiving urgent treatment from an Optrex bottle as their cutlery clatters to the floor and a wasp dive bombs their caesar salad. Summer was made for outdoorsy types, but not everybody wants to be knee-deep in lavender or on a gusty rooftop while drinking their mezcal negroni. Which is why we’ve made a list of restaurants that feel outdoors—with foliage, glass conservatories, and airy views—without actually being outdoors. 


photo credit: Brat


London Fields

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Snuggle down in an arch close to London Fields as your whole crab is cooked on open flames and basted with hay butter—this is nature we can get behind. Seafood restaurant Brat in Climpson’s Arch is where to go when you want proximity to the outdoors, while also keeping it at arm’s length. The fairy light-strewn marquee feels like a conservatory, with transparent panels that let you see the sun as you explore the blackboard menu. But you’re still fully tucked away and protected from showers, gusts of wind, and pollinators. 

photo credit: Clos Maggiore

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Clos Maggiore, a French spot in Covent Garden, is a hay fever sufferer's dream. There’s all the charm of a meadow of flowers, but none of the nose-streaming nightmare that accompanies a trip to the park post-June. Here, the faux flowers are draped from the ceiling of an airy conservatory, and creeping vines twist around columns. If you’re after a formal date night in a setting that feels like a collaboration between Nicholas Sparks and the Chelsea Flower Show, this is the place to do it. It’s the outdoors, if the outdoors was manicured within an inch of its life. 

The garden at Luca is elegant and sheltered from the elements, just like you—not a hair out of place, gliding along cobbles that have never been troubled by rain. This Italian spot in Clerkenwell has artfully distressed walls and brick that has clearly been crumbled by human hands, and not a hard life of having overzealous squirrels clinging to it. Graze on plates of burrata and poached pear by the open fireplace, and revel in the fact that you’re pretty much outdoors, but not. 

One suspects that a particularly violent storm could threaten Blankita’s DIY conservatory on Seven Sisters road, but that’s part of the charm of this homely Colombian spot. Sun, shade, and steaks are all on the menu, and having a freshly made juice and an empanada at Blankita is the perfect tonic to a day that’s almost too nice. Friends and family are pretty much always leaning back in their makeshift fold-out table and chair setup. When it comes to catching a breather and something home-cooked and great-value off the grill, there are few places we’d rather do it.

As far as converted garage restaurants in north London go, Primeur is surely the must-visit (although its sibling Western’s Laundry may have something to say about it). It’s on a residential road between Clissold Park and Newington Green, and on those summer days when the Chin Chin is a-flowing, it’s one of the most enjoyable restaurants in London to lean back in. The food, European-style small plates, is the perfect accompaniment to a bottle of wine and a to-do list that reads: mañana. The ideal time to book is early evening, so you can eat jamon and gnudi in sunlight, and then cheese and meringue in candlelight.

Rochelle Canteen has long been the best restaurant in London to lazily scoop cod’s roe and sink St. John house white in the great outdoors, But ever since it erected its greenhouse structure, it’s also become the ultimate indoor-outdoor restaurant. Even when eating inside Shoreditch’s most idiosyncratic former bike shed, you feel like you can touch nature without, well, actually touching it. The menu always suits rain or shine—from crab broth and toast for those drizzly days, to roast chicken and a biting dijon salad for when the sun is shining.

Of Brixton Village’s varied and brilliant indoor-outdoor options, from big portions of yakisoba to superb-value Colombian Creole chicken, it’s Fish, Wings & Tings that we find ourselves plonked down in most often. The jerk chicken at the popular Caribbean spot is moist, the jerk sauce fruity with a punch, and a portion of curried goat alongside roti is always wolfed down. In the summer the atmosphere feels like a party that’s fallen outside and, with a menu of extensive rum cocktails, it’s up to you how far that party feeling goes.

There are three things you should know about Maria G’s in Kensington. Firstly, it serves dangerously good focaccia. Secondly, it’s the kind of out-of-the-way, relaxing place you’ll want to take your time in, catching up over pea and burrata arancini in comfy emerald booths. And thirdly, it’s got an indoor-outdoor terrace situation that feels very much like a private garden. The changing menu of Italian-inspired dishes means one day you’ll start with aged parmesan fries and finish with a comforting borlotti bean stew. And other days you’ll focus on the mackerel bolognese and end with olive oil-drizzled soft serve. The tables facing the garden are perfect for being at one with nature without having to crack out the antihistamines.

Seabird is the London rooftop jackpot—a long glamorous terrace complete with tropical foliage and decorative cushions. This 14th-floor seafood spot on the top of The Hoxton hotel in Southwark has panoramic views of London, and an atmosphere that enables endless alfresco cocktail sipping, with minimal interference from pigeons or fruit flies. As for the food, there are decent croquetas, a decidedly messy octopus roll, a glorious whole lobster bathing in its own juices, and a manchego rice medley. But make no mistake, you’re here for the assortment of excellent oysters and that view.

Essentially a cafe in the greenhouse of a private garden in Richmond, Petersham Nurseries serves Italian food that’s pricey but always extremely pretty. It’s the kind of space even your least outdoorsy friend would nod approvingly of. Get a plate of the gnocchi gratin with mussels and peas and sit in the absolute stunner of a conservatory, which opens on to an actual meadow during the summer. As far as escapes go, it feels like you’ve left town. Not just because the charming setup feels far from the city, but because when factoring in the walk from Richmond tube, it’s a proper mission. But hey, it’s a lot more appealing than a four-hour hike in the park nearby. 

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