You don’t get desert themed restaurants, there are few restaurants that try and recreate the ocean or Antarctica, unless you want to try terrace dining in mid-winter, but the jungle has a unique and enduring appeal.
So if being surrounded by foliage is your idea of an ideal meal, if the potential surprise of which tropical bug might emerge next sparks as much excitement as what might come out of the kitchen, then you’re in the right place.
Dining with monkeys (aka taking my niece and nephew out for lunch) gets an upgrade thanks to fine dining jungle-style restaurant Zuaya. Famously the favourite restaurant of Love Island’s Dr Alex (mainly because we keep repeating it), Zuaya is a Handbook favourite too, and can be found by pushing past the palms just off High Street Kensington.
Famously the favourite restaurant of Love Island's Dr Alex (mainly because we keep repeating it)
The menu is Latin American and the Lamb Purple Taco is to die for (unless Dr Alex is close by to resuscitate), a perfect dish to enjoy alongside a range of exotic dishes. Also worth trying the cocktails. But of course we’re here for the decor too, which includes hidden monkeys, plants, trees and an abundance of jungle features.
It’s London’s most unexpected public space, the jungle-esque surrounds of Sky Garden are as delightful as they are unexpected. Gently rising throughout the huge venue, the landscaped garden is pieced together from a variety of drought-resistant Mediterranean and South African species, all chosen by garden designers Gillespie’s to work in harmony with the space and provide colour all year round.
If you’re more belly than botanist, then make your way to fine dining restaurant Fenchurch Street or grab a bite at Darwin Brasserie.
Sushi Samba Covent Garden
Strikingly beautiful and perfectly located, Covent Garden’s Sushi Samba is flamboyantly fabulous. Topped with a huge glass canopy, the greenhouse feel inside is distinctly jungle-y.
The bar boasts a ‘living ceiling’, with plants hanging down and giving the distinct impression that you’re thousands of miles from the nearest Apple Store (in fact you’re a matter of yards away).
The Peruvian, Brazilian, Japanese restaurant serves an eclectic and exotic menu that’s a real dining experience in itself, but it’s hard to decide whether it outshines the surroundings…
‘Has to be seen to be believed’ is an epithet too lightly distributed, when it should really be reserved for places like Amazonico. The Berkeley Square restaurant is hot stuff, not because it’s in the Brazilian jungle but because you can’t move for a-listers Instagramming.
And it’s easy to understand why, the restaurant is simply beautiful. Split in to several zones, the foliage and stunning decor transport you to the depths of the Amazon, but clearly to a bit where they serve something significantly better than bananas and Um Bongo because the food is delicious.
Madera at The Treehouse Hotel
Fresh out of New York, Miami and LA, the Treehouse Hotel promised to be the Meghan Markle of hotels with its eco credentials and grand status, occupying as it does 9 storeys of a tower on Langham Place. Which means that the views are phenomenal, looking across central London and beyond, you can get all your sight-seeing done in about five minutes flat.
They know what they're doing, not least when it comes to dangling shrubbery from the ceiling
Treehouse lives up to every herbaceous promise loaded into the hotel’s name in the form of fifteenth floor Mexican restaurant Madera. With outposts in Hollywood (and not-necessarily-so-Hollywood Scottsdale, Arizona) they know what they’re doing, not least when it comes to dangling shrubbery from the ceiling, which Madera does with green-fingered aplomb.
Very much the Ronseal of jungle restaurants, and we’re not, in fact, talking about how the menu tastes. As advertised, the Rainforest Cafe very much takes diners on a journey to the rainforest. Cue a cacophony of parrots, elephants and a veritable animatronic menagerie.
The ceiling hangs with creepers and plants, a la jungle, and the cuisine is ‘American’, so burgers and so forth. Which is ironic, given how much actual rainforest is cleared annually to cater for America’s burger obsession.
The most annoying thing is that this kid-friendly restaurant is really, undeniably, great fun.
Very much like an actual jungle, or Narnia, you enter Restaurant Ours through a tunnel of foliage. Unlike a jungle, you get a Tom Sellars epic restaurant on the other side.
As the pun implies, The Living Room really is living, with trees growing out of the floor and installations.