It’s the end of the week and your phone is already blowing up with several dozen messages asking what the plan is for the weekend. Your friends have decided that rather than just hitting the usual local, you’re going properly out. ‘Out out’.
Naturally, the night is going to start with dinner - and you need to choose carefully. You want somewhere central, because although you’re cool and live in Zone 2, you have some mates who live in Richmond or something. You’ll also need somewhere lively, and not overly expensive or heavy.
Plan your pre-‘out out’ dinner at one of these restaurants and you’ll make it all the way to the 3 am cry-a-thon on the night bus home.
Sushi isn’t known for its stomach-lining properties, but at Sushi Atelier you can eat a hell of a lot of excellent sushi for an extremely reasonable price. The sushi is topped with stuff like truffle and whiskey jelly and BBQ sauce, which might sound poncy and weird, but it totally works. And it all goes particularly well with a couple of flights of sake, which has been scientifically proven to help groups of friends get the night started properly.
Sometimes you need to call a spade a spade. And sometimes you need to call a pre-gaming restaurant a pre-gaming restaurant. That’s what Peyote in Mayfair is. They do modern Mexican food here that is neither authentic nor cheap, but which does taste good. At the weekends there’s a DJ playing dance music, and there’s always a party atmosphere. Come with a group and plan to drink a bunch of tequila.
Do you like biryani? Would you like to eat biryani in a fun setting where Tupac and Kanye are coming out of the speakers? Bring your group to Dum Biryani, an excellent new Indian restaurant in Soho. The big biryanis are excellent and great for sharing, and you should be sure to get some hot wings and stir-fried prawns to start. The restaurant is underground, like one of those secret clubs you and your mates will no doubt be rejected from later in the night, and will accommodate a group getting lairy.
You invited everyone out. And it turns out everyone (and their plus ones) can actually make it. For when your crew is rolling especially deep, try Yosma on Baker Street. They do enjoyable upmarket Turkish food and great cocktails, and it’s always loud and lively in here. Not only will they accommodate you and your rowdy crew, but they’ll also make ordering easy by giving you a set menu for £39 per person (if there are more than three of you). That way, you can spend less time on the maths of splitting the bill and more time strategizing how best to split up the group to optimize chances of acceptance by the clipboard mafia later.
Red Rooster’s signature dish is a whole fried chicken with fireworks coming out of its arse. In other words, this restaurant was essentially made for ‘out out’ nights. While the rest of the American comfort food won’t blow you away, Red Rooster is a lot of fun, and is a great place to start a night in Shoreditch.
Maybe it’s one of those nights when your crew hasn’t quite thought through the evening’s plans properly - are you grabbing a cab east, or central to club? Give yourself options by starting at Temper City. This new Temper outpost focuses on unusual interpretations of curries, and you’ll find yourself eating things like green masala-spiced fish or a Caribbean lamb and Scotch bonnet stew. The space is big, and the comfortable booths are perfect for groups. Down a few G&Ts with dinner to help with the decision-making.
Yes, the queue at this particular location of London’s favorite Indian mini-chain will sober you up quicker than an up-down look followed by a ‘no’ from a bouncer. But if you’re in a crew of more than six, you can book a table, glide past the crowds like a VIP, and go in on some lamb chops and cocktails to get the night started.
If you have a small group of two or three, and don’t mind waiting for a seat at the bar, definitely hit up The Palomar. This is the ultimate restaurant to hit before going out out. The staff have the bants. There are great cocktails. The Israeli small plates are outstanding. There's banging playlist. Truth be told, we have yet to find a club that is better fun than this restaurant.
Kev wants to hit somewhere casual for dinner. Sophia wants somewhere a bit fancy. The Duck and Rice is a happy medium that will guarantee neither of them can use their atmosphere preferences as a lame excuse to bail out early on the night. This restaurant has a posh-ish pub downstairs and a busy posh-ish restaurant upstairs serving very tasty and not too expensive Chinese food. Make sure that the crispy duck, dumplings, and Singapore noodles are on the table so all dish preferences are also covered.
Sometimes you and your mates have all the drive, ambition, and intent to go ‘out out’, but you subconsciously want to put little road bumps in the way to stop you getting to a club because you actually want to be in bed by midnight. Holborn Dining Room can be your night out enabler, and, if you wish, also your road bump. You’ll be enabled by the grand yet casual location in one of the poshest hotels in London - and by the 500 gins on tap. Your road bump will be Scarfes Bar next door, where they do classic cocktails and there’s a live 1920s swing band. You could go on to a club in Covent Garden… or you could just enjoy a few cocktails before getting in bed.
Roka is one of the few restaurants in London that can get you in the party mood any night of the week - the energy at this modern Japanese restaurant is always high. We suggest getting some sushi as well as a few small plates like the shrimp tempura and lamb cutlets to fill the group up, since things can get pricey quickly here. You can also hit up Shochu Lounge downstairs for more post-dinner cocktails before heading elsewhere.
Yauatcha gets its first ‘out out’ brownie point because if you get a table downstairs, it feels like you’re eating in a fancy nightclub. We’ll award a second ‘out out’ brownie point for its great cocktail list. Its third brownie point is for the enjoyable Chinese food. It loses a brownie point for the occasionally bad service. But when it’s good, Yauatcha lays the foundation for a great night ahead. With groups, we usually go for the set menu, which keeps things simple and gets you a good amount of food.