Where To Go For A Graduation Dinner guide image


Where To Go For A Graduation Dinner

Because planning a grad dinner is more difficult than uni ever was.

It’s that time of year where certificates are collected and promptly lost, and new graduates celebrate the fact they are putting years of panicked all-nighters and Boots meal deals behind them. Whether you’re treating the new graduate in your life to a slap-up meal, or are the graduate attempting to organise a dinner, this bit can be more stressful than forgetting to set your dissertation to autosave. You’ll need a spot that can accommodate family and friends from out of town and feels suitably special. Here are some excellent restaurant choices for dinner parties of all sizes.

If you want to go all out, take a look at the best private dining rooms in London.



This Italian spot in Knightsbridge is a crowd-pleaser. From the tasteful red and white striped awning outside, to the fried pizza and creamy lobster raviolo, we defy anyone not to be extremely satisfied after visiting Cicchetti. The dining room gives fancy yacht crossed with classic New York brasserie energy. The shiny deep brown wood and huge avante-garde art pieces make this a great backdrop for grad pictures that don’t look like your prom date is a scroll. Plus, the thoughtful staff make special occasions extra special.  

The excellent mocktail menu at Karachi Cuisine is the first indicator that the Norbury restaurant is somewhere to come for a good time. The second is the suited server who won’t bat an eyelid when you go for an electric blue drink. The spacious dining room, with purple overhead lighting and bright red booths, is primed for celebrating any and every special occasion over a round of paani poori. The Pakistani dishes are excellent: the super soft and spiced bun kebab is a must-order, as is the tender maghaz karahi, fried with ginger and chilli. 

Royal China Club is a smart choice if you are looking to spoil or be spoiled. The 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 prices. That said, this is some of the best dim sum in the city.

An essential life lesson for any new graduate—adulthood is about life cheat codes and the ultimate one is booking a table at Brasserie Zédel. The set menu at this huge basement brasserie is the stuff of London legend. You can get three courses for under £20 in a space that is pure unfiltered Parisian glamour, all rounded off with a cocktail at the in-house drinking den, Bar Américain. 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, this narrowboat serving potato rösti alongside buttermilk pudding is just the ticket. What's more is that 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 modern European-leaning 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. 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 smokey, buttery slipsole and a few highly recommended bottles.

You all just had to sit through a depressing commencement speech about how the new cohort of graduates might not get jobs. Which means you’ll now want to keep intellectual conversation to a minimum and dial the fun all the way to the max. A feelgood party in the City, Brigadiers is the kind of excellent Indian 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 Thierry 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. Yada’s is 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 Persian 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 from the charming Kensington spot.

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, say, divorced parents, are forced to be in the same room together. 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. 

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 in Fitzrovia that serves things like steak tartare and some seriously flamboyant suckling pig vindaloo. And it’s got 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 hot chocolate fudge banana split sundae—we can’t think of a better way to kiss your kid years goodbye. 

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photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Where To Go For A Graduation Dinner guide image