Personally, I’m definitely a starter kinda gal. If I had to pick between getting a starter or a dessert, I’d be nibbling my way through the starter selection without a shadow of doubt. Luckily for us Londoner’s, the city is adorned with some of the world’s finest eateries, which means there’s an array of starters just waiting to be feasted on. As always, we’ve selected only the very best of London’s foodie scene, handpicking our favourite starters across the board.
Let’s get ready to crumble…
Locked in the heart of Egerton Gardens, you’ll find The Franklin Hotel, home to only the finest Michelin-star dining in Knightsbridge, of course. The Franklin Restaurant is known famously for its fine dining menu, curated by Michelin-starred Chef Alfredo Russo, bringing modern Italian cuisine to the centre of Knightsbridge. A crowd favourite starter has to be the Battuta di Vitello; beef tartare with hazelnut and black truffle, because let’s face it, who doesn’t love a bit of black truffle? If you haven’t tried beef tartare before, then The Franklin’s is the perfect starter to ignite this lover affair. It’s light, yet flavourful, and mega delicious.
Where: The Franklin London - Starhotels Collezione, Egerton Gardens, London, UK
Nearest station: South Kensington (0.4 miles)
Let the good times roll…
One place that knows how to maki our day is Hotel Café Royal and their fine selection of sushi offerings. Chef Laurent Tourondel has brought his expertise across the pond to the heart of London, serving up only the finest steak and fish at Hotel Café Royal. And, there’s no better way to get your sushi fix than with their crispy wagyu beef nigiri, topped with truffle aioli, dash, grated daikon, and local wasabi for a little added spice.
Is this London’s finest Indian resto? Hell to the yes!
Serving up only the very best of Indian cuisine is Indian Accent, nuzzled in the heart of Mayfair, and it’s all thanks to Chef Manish Mehrotra, who uses nostalgic Indian dishes, and combines them with the finest seasonal flavours and global ingredients and techniques. I mean, The Economic Times even named him the ‘No.1 chef in India’, so his style of cooking is pretty serious. A starter that’s bound to win you over is the soy keema with quail egg and lime leaf butter pao. It’s buttery, delicately spiced and hella good!
When there’s continual crowd favourites, why take it off the menu? Since opening back in 2016, Ormer Mayfair has channeled guests favourites by keeping them on the menu. One contender that continues to shine over three years later is their Jersey lobster ravioli served with a crab and tomato bisque, shallots and coriander. This signature dish continues to shine and it’s certainly easy to see why; it’s fresh, flavourful and continues to surprise even the finest of critics.
Where: Flemings Mayfair Hotel, Half Moon Street, London, W1J 7BH, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Green Park (0.2 miles)
STK is known for their epic steak selection, but don’t let that trail your eye away from their selection of starters. A favourite of one Handbook diner is from their ‘raw bar’. It’s gin and tonic marinated Scottish salmon starter, which combines a blackberry and cucumber tartare, served with soda bread and dill. It’s the perfect punchy palette cleanser, that’ll prepare you for your steak feasting which follows.
Where: ME London, 336-337 The Strand, London WC2R 1HA, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Temple (0.3 miles)
Residing in the heart of Mayfair, you’ll fine Novikov Restaurant and Bar, combining classy interiors with super cuisine. Their showstopper is their Asian resto and its open kitchen, serving up the freshest of fresh seafood and veggies. A crowd favourite has to be their black cod dumplings, which will no doubt tantalise your tastebuds with a burst of flavour.
Tucked on South Molton Street, just a short stroll from the bustling Bond Street Station, you’ll find Jak’s Mayfair channelling the very best of hospitality spread across four floors. Offering guests a light bite before they devour one of their hearty mains, Jak’s Mayfair has a starter selection that’s dedicated to the trusty salad. You’ll find every salad variation under the sun. A few of our favourites include the artichoke salad with asparagus, peppers and French beans; tricolour with tomato, mozzarella, avocado and basil; and quinoa salad with sweet pepper, avocado, cherry tomatoes, red kidney beans and spring onions. And lettuce tell you, they’re all extremely fresh and a perfect way to start your dreamy feast.
This summer we saw the opening of Chef Anthony Demetre’s newest venture; Wild Honey St James, open on the former site of The Balcon at Sofitel London St James. The resto uses modern European cooking, combining classic French techniques with the finest seasonal produce Britain has to offer. A favourite of The Handbook crew is the hand cut macaroni ‘cacio e Pepe’ served with crisp chicken wings. It’s super creamy from the cheese, which pairs perfectly with a crisp bite into the chicken wings. Excuse us while we continue to fantasise about it…
Come on, we’re all guilty of indulging in a creamy avo on toast, and The Rubens at the Palace certainly know a thing or two about crafting it perfectly. Their Executive Chef has worked hard to create his own interpretation of the founder and president, Mrs Tollman’s tomato burrata toast recipe, and it’s certainly one of the best avo toasts we’ve had in the city! Forget the poached eggs, it’s all about the creamy, dreamy burrata sprawled on top of the avo toast.
Veggies, listen up! Boyds Grill and Wine Bar know how to knock up a veggie treat that’s full of flavour. Their roasted broccoli, served with homemade pickled walnut ketchup, whipped egg yolk, puffed barley, and is paired beautifully with a blue cheese dressing. Or if you’re wanting a meaty hit, their mountain meatballs with sweet pointed pepper, mature cheddar, and fried bread will beat any meatball dish you’ve tried before!
J Sheekey Atlantic Bar has collaborated with designer, Erdem to create a ‘Fruits de Mer’ stand, drawing inspiration from the fashion world, featuring delicate engravings of koi fish. Upon this platter, you’ll find tuna and salmon sashimi; cock crab claw; lobster; langoustine; tiger prawns; surf clams; cockles; mussels; and oysters. It’s a seafood masterpiece that any fish fanatics won’t be able to resist, and you’d be a fool not to snap up a photo for your Insta feed!
Sharing is caring baby! Choosing between your favourite dishes can be difficult, so Gillray’s has done the hardwork for you with their sharing starters. And, my gosh, are there some gooduns! Their homemade frazzles with grainy mustard and sour cream are as devilish as they sound, and their marmite and cheddar twists are too good to miss!
Where: Gillray's Steakhouse & Bar, Westminster Bridge Road, London, United Kingdom
Nearest station: London Waterloo (0.3 miles)
Nuzzled just off Kensington High Street, you’ll find Zuaya bringing us Londoner’s a whole lotta Latin American dishes and Spanish tapas, woohoo! There’s two signature dishes in particular we can’t get enough of. First up are their lamb tacos, made with lamb shank, moroccan ras el hanout, and smoked pineapple which adds a burst of fruity punch to the dish tying it all together beautifully. And, for something completely unique and different why not try Zuaya’s incredibly popular signature warm ceviche, which is half raw, half cooked served with a spicy yellow aji sauce and homemade sweet potato ice cream. Sweet potato ice cream may sound a little bizarre but the balance of warm and cold is exquisite!
Situated behind the Ritz Hotel in St James’s, Le Caprice serves up timeless British classics we all know and love. This summer they’ve been embracing aperitivo hour and offer a delicious sharing platter with some of their beloved iconic dishes. So expect to find tuna ceviché with avocado, chilli and lime; steak tartare; crispy duck and watermelon salad; and girolle and manchego croquettes. And, if you’re feeling extra fancy, you can add half a bottle of champers too!
Where: Arlington House, Arlington Street, London, SW1A 1RJ, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Green Park (0.1 miles)
Fish, glorious fish…
Another pocket full of pretty is Scott’s on Mount Street, Mayfair, who serve up only the very best of traditional fish and shellfish dishes. And, like all good seafood restaurants, Scott’s have a good ol’ selection of oysters with your name on! If you know a thing or two about oysters you’ll be glad to know there’s six (yes, six!) specialities to choose from, or if you’re a sucker for tempura, they’ve got a delicious tempura fried oyster with yuzu avocado and shiso salsa that’s bound to get you in the mood for the seafood feast ahead!
There’s nothing more comforting that diving headfirst into a big ol’ plate of pasta or pizza, but before you get your carb-y fix at Bocconcino dive into their tartare di salmone, granchio, avocado, caviale e nova de quaglia. (Don’t worry, it sounds confusing but it’s mega delish!). It’s essentially salmon tartare, and crab piled onto an avocado, with caviar and quail eggs. Ooft, gimme! Gimme!
There’s something really special about Mews of Mayfair. Maybe it’s the fact it’s locked away in one of London’s historic courtyards, or maybe it’s the varied range of starters to dive headfirst into. Either way, we’re all for it! The most popular starter on their menu hands down is their tuna tartare served with avocado, pickled cucumber and fennel. The pickled cucumber adds a sprinkle of acidity without overpowering from the delicate fishy flavour.
Love a starter that’s got a zesty spring to it? Yeah? Well, you’re going to love Mercante’s lemon infused starters from their summer of Limoncello menu! Fancy something light? Tuck into their artichoke, Sicilian salmoriglio and crab to start, before diving into their creamy asparagus lemon risotto. Bellissimo!
Running until 30th September
Where: Sheraton Grand London Park Lane, Piccadilly, London, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Green Park (0.4 miles)
Mayfair is brimming with fine restaurants, and we’ve found another to add to your list; Moncks of Dover St. This classy brasserie serves up variations on timeless classics, but their house favourite is the tuna carpaccio. We’re talking fresh raw tuna, doused with watercress puree, black sesame, preserved lemon and samphire. Which when paired with their crusty sourdough bread is the perfect starter that’ll get your ready for their indulgent mains (you have to try their creamy truffle Mac and cheese!).
Another Mayfair restaurant that’s worth a visit is 34 Mayfair, located just off Grosvenor Square. Head chef Harvey Ayliffe has centred the modern menu around the bespoke Argentine parrilla grill, serving up an array of succulent beefy mains. But we’re here to tell you about their starter selection that you should peruse before tucking into one of their meaty mains. A favourite of ours is their vegetarian offering of baked duck egg with girolles, leeks and truffled Pecorino, proving there’s room for veggies to indulge in creamy dishes too!
Where: 34, Grosvenor Square, London, W1K 2HD, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Bond Street (0.5 miles)
Since opening back in 2004, The Greenhouse continues to shine through the rest focusing on quality, and let me tell you, it’s blooming good! The resto has held onto its two Michelin star status for all this time too! In terms of starters, a favourite of ours is their carpaccio of Sicilian red prawn, aged Kaluga caviar, raw peas, chilled buttermilk consommé and Armando manni olive oil.
Where: 27a Hay’s Mews, Mayfair, London, W1J 5NY, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Green Park (0.5 miles)