After years of panicked all-nighters, pretending to go to lectures, and exclusively eating Boots meal deals for lunch, you’re finally graduating. Congratulations! Time to collect that certificate and never see it again for as long as you live. But before you retire your brain cells for a minimum of three to six months, you’ve got to plan your graduation dinner. You’ll need somewhere to accommodate your family and friends from out of town which can be more stressful than forgetting to set your dissertation to autosave. Here are some excellent restaurant choices for dinner parties of all sizes.
By our calculations, you’ve only got 72 hours left to ride the whole “I’m the golden child” wave, so take this opportunity to eat some of the best dim sum in the city—and don’t be polite with the ordering, you just graduated remember? This Baker Street spot’s lengthy dim sum menu is legendary for good reason. It ranges from the familiar (prawn cheung fun, say) to the fancy (crispy rolls with scallop and foie gras), so don’t be surprised that it can easily add up to west London club prices. That said, you’ve earned some dim sum with a difference.
Forget everything that was said in that snooze-fest commencement speech about success involving hard work. After all, you’ve already figured out that you can magically fit eight hours of sleep into 12 minutes. Adulthood is about life cheat codes and the ultimate one is this: book a table at Brasserie Zédel. The set menu at this huge basement brasserie is the stuff of London legend. You can get steak frites and dessert for £13 in a space that is pure unfiltered Parisian glamour, all rounded off with a cocktail at the in-house drinking den, Bar Americain. See, success can be easy.
Contented, melancholic sighs, and words like 'charmed’ are bound to come out of everyone’s mouth once you sidle away from the bobbing little treat that is Caravel, a bistro-feeling boat-cum-restaurant in Islington. If you’re looking for an intimate atmosphere to celebrate and be seduced in, this narrowboat serving duck croquettes alongside jelly and cream is just the ticket. What's more, it doesn't cost an arm and a leg—which is both brilliant and a little bizarre given, well, London.
Noble Rot is a food place, but it’s more of a wine place. A wine place that serves excellent food. This isn’t just the best wine list in London, it’s the best wine list in the UK. So get settled, get friendly with the extremely knowledgeable staff, and pop a bottle of bubbly. You’re all grown-up now. Sort of. The Lamb's Conduit Street location is the perfect mix of cool and casual, and you can always get a table in the bar area if you’d rather pick on the best bread in London alongside a few highly recommended bottles.
After you left your final exam, you swore you would give your brain cells a well-deserved rest. Which means keeping intellectual conversation to a minimum and dialling the fun all the way to the max. A feel-good party in the City, Brigadiers is the kind of excellent restaurant that will do all the hard work for you. There’s a whisky vending machine, a pool room, approximately 10 televisions showing live sport, oil portraits of Theirry Henry, lamps in the shape of monkeys, and—dun dun dun—the best lamb chops in London.
This Kurdish restaurant on Rye Lane is full of food that’s perfect for big group sharing. It’s the kind of restaurant where family and friends intertwine, booze is bought from the offy next door, and two big glistening shawarmas rotate in the background. Yes, it’s your day… but they are the real stars of the show. There are plenty of options for all kinds of diets and the vegan mezze—crunchy and light falafel, pistachio hummus, dalooja (a red pepper and pomegranate dip), and soft hajari bread—is a must.
What celebration is complete without a portion of chicken biryani the size of a small country? Not this one. Perfect for big groups and that cousin who refuses to eat anything that didn’t come off a skewer, Sadaf’s menu has something for everyone. Excellent dips, grilled joojeh, buttery kebabs, and freshly baked naan on demand—you’ll be spoiled for choice and the best part is you’ll almost always have some left over to take home.
Born to do it. No, not Craig David’s first album, but Ciao Bella’s suitability for a generous, affordable, and raucous meal. Graduations, birthdays—you name it (or invent it) and Ciao Bella is the place to celebrate it. No other restaurant in London brings groups of friends and family together in quite the same way as this old-school Italian on Lamb’s Conduit Street. Spaghetti will be shovelled, wine will be spilt, and dessert will be ignored in favour of a smoke out front.
Graduation is a profound milestone. It’s also one of the few occasions where a bunch of relatives are forced to be in the same room together, say, your divorced parents. That’s why you need distractions and Hutong has the kind of views that will stop any ‘who was the rightful owner of that Blade Runner DVD’ conversations in their tracks. This is an ultra-swish Chinese restaurant inside the Shard where an order of the peking duck is essential. The dim sum is also a highlight and if you’re being bankrolled by your parent’s inevitable guilt, know that they also have some pretty spectacular private dining rooms.
photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch
Pubs were invented for people who just had to suffer the humiliation of spending £150 to hire a robe for three hours. But The George isn’t any old pub, it’s a fancy one that serves things like steak tartare and some seriously flamboyant langoustine scampi. In Fitzrovia, this is the kind of gastro-pub setting that will please any relative who is incapable of eating kale without launching into a ‘in my day we were all happy with a potato’ monologue, with just enough artful cushions and high-backed chairs to accommodate your mum’s new statement hat. Just be sure to leave enough room for the mammoth knickerbocker glory—we can’t think of a better way to kiss your kid years goodbye.