London. One of the most vibrant cities in the world and yet most of us can’t decide where to spend our lunchtimes, evenings or weekends. From drinking in the cocktail bars of Soho to dining in five star restaurants of Canary Wharf, (or grabbing a pizza from an ‘eat with your hands’ takeaway) it’s time we tapped into all that London has to offer…
After working for a company that opened my eyes to the world of client entertaining, I decided (without much self-persuasion) to explore some of the cities culinary kitchens, sky-high watering holes, scenic hot-spots and hidden gems to bring you some of the all the venues I have found to be perfect for socializing on a reasonable budget.
Angel Lane, Monument
What to try: Pearl Barley and Wild Mushroom Risotto, Red Cabbage Steak, Crème Fraiche
Tucked away beneath new office builds, The Oyster Shed sits quaintly alongside the Thames. On approach it’s difficult to determine what you are walking into, but the inside opens up into a spacious mezzanine dinning area that is light, bright and airy. The floor to ceiling windows stream in the cities’ sunlight. Quoted as a Gastro-pub, the Shed over exceeds with it’s adventurous specials menu, extensive wine list and fabulous views of the river. The delicious flavors of the pearl barley risotto were both soft and rich, and the red cabbage steak unlike anything I had ever seen – all presented with perfect precision. The laid-back friendly atmosphere is perfect for a working lunch or casual evening drink, and definitely worth the hunt to find!
Soho, Camden, Islington
What to try: Mixta paella (seafood and chicken), Parrillada de Carne (meat barbecue)
The authentic taste of Española found in London. Jamon Jamon offers a fantastic range of Spanish dishes with plenty of kick. The Meat platters and tapas plates are particularly impressive served in generous portions by friendly attentive staff. Emphatic with intimate tables its better suited for a dinner with friends that a quiet date, but the happy go lucky atmosphere makes you feel like you are amidst a Spanish fiesta. I would recommend trying the sangria, but they boast a varied wine collection too, and the waiters will usually suggest one for your meal choice.
Bishopsgate, St Pauls, Premier Place, Houndsditch
What to try: Kalamar (Fried squid rocket and yoghurt sauce), Cevizli Kasarli Kofte (Grilled minced lamb with walnuts & halloumi cheese)
Turkish cuisine with a elegant twist. With all authentic ingredients, Haz turns a simple kebab into a meaty masterpiece. The menu displays all the cultures classics including mixed meze platters, charcoal grills and a sizable selection of seafood including fried sea bass and grilled swordfish. The venues itself is stunning with a spacious dinning area that overlooks the professional kitchens and abundant wine cupboards. Genuine hospitality, scrumptious food and generous portions.
Camden, Shoreditch, Brixton
What to try: Catfish Jambalaya (Pan fried catfish fillet & prawns served with rice & peas & a Cajun spiced crayfish sauce), Three meat BBQ.
A boasting blues bar serving “Cajun comfort food”! This lively kitchen plays host to several musicians/bands throughout the week that fill the venue with life and soul. Their ever changing ‘Burger of the month’ will entice you to choose the same thing over and over again. If you are feeling adventurous the menu offers Cajun delicacies or Texan BBQ all smoked by in-house smokers with a blend of hickory, oak, mesquite and fruit woods. With the atmosphere just as inviting as the food, this is a must-visit if you are looking for a night of smooth entertainment and a satisfied stomach.
Appold St, Shoreditch
What to try: Agnolotti all’ anatra (braised duck raviolli)
Translated as ‘The Soul’, L’anima deliciously lives up to its name. As one of the leading Mediterranean spots in London’s city, it offers an experience that oozes sensuality. The perfect balance between food & drink, it offers a great wine selection and lots of Italian classics with a twist. Perfect for an evening drink or meal, L’anima boasts a beautiful bar area with elegant booths and low lighting for luxurious ambiance.
Northcote Rd, Wandsworth
What to try: Linguine Allo Scoglio, linguine with prawns, baby squids, mussels, cherry tomatoes, garlic and chilli
The family run Italian restaurant is the picture perfect embodiment of Mediterranean food, hospitality and lifestyle. Set in the middle of South London, Buona Sera is it’s own namesake offering authentic, cosy Italian evening where friends and families dine at large tables. Reminiscent of Sicily, the menu is made up of all cultural staples and a large selection of seafood. The linguine allo scoglio is a spicy melody of prawns and pasta in a rich tomato sauce, so stay away if you don’t like the heat…or alternatively cool yourself down with the restaurants amazing selection of gelato…chocolate, hazelnut, cappuccino, orange, lemon, coconut, vanilla, strawberry..the list continues!
What to try: Green tea wasabi yuzu prawn tempura
Aqua Kyoto serves contemporary style Japanese food with a side of beautiful dining in an ultra glossy rooftop setting. This is the perfect place to go for a drink as the Aqua Spirit bar is adjacent to the restaurant.The quality of the sushi is exceptionally high with explosions of flavors and presented so delicately you are almost sad to ruin the plate. The cocktails menu is packed with all the classics and served in elegant new world style glasses, perfect for a high-end evening. The rooftop terrace overlooks London’s skyline, perfect for a summers night or an evening of entertaining.
St Pauls, Monument, Islington, Covent Garden
What to try: New Collection Dragon fruit & pomegranate martini, Espresso martini
Located in several spots around the city, Dirty Martini is the perfect place to mix it up in drinking terms. At the heart of London’s nightlife scene, the venue itself is perfect for an evening of drinking and sophisticated socializing with friends. With an array of cocktails included in extended happy hours and platters of finger food to choose from it makes entertaining in the city seem an easy breeze.