We’re all creatures of habit at the end of the day. We can go to all the pop-ups and exclusive one-off events that we like, but when it comes to a special occasion; those family get together’s and meals to remember (planning a proposal anyone?) it’s the classics that really stand the test of time. Staple dining institutions that deliver on service, ambiance and great food and drink every single time. Here’s our round-up of The Handbook’s favourite go-to classic restaurants:
Classic dining at a classic hotel
The Savoy Grill is one of Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants, so naturally the food will be first class – think Seared foie gras with pickled mushrooms, fig and fennel toast to start, followed by Dover sole (grilled or meunere, natch!) and a delicate Peach melba soufflé to finish. And while enjoying the classic fare, indulge in the glamorous surroundings – the restaurant benefitted from the hotel’s £220 million renovation and boasts shimmering chandeliers, polished wood, burnished mirrors and white-clothed tables.
Classic Dining Riverside
One: Le Pont de la Tour is one of the most iconic dining destinations in London. Formerly run by Conran, the D&D London restaurant is renowned for it’s traditional French cuisine and flawless service. Two: Le Pont de la Tour boasts one of the capital’s most iconic views, with a stunning terrace running alongside the river and overlooking Tower Bridge. Three: Le Pont de la Tour has just undergone a stunning refurbishment, reflecting 1930s Parisian chic and elegance.
Where: 36d Shad Thames, Butlers Wharf, London, SE1 2YE, United Kingdom
Nearest station: London Bridge (0.5 miles)
Nothing quite says classic than a dress code. The Ivy asks guests to dress ‘smart casual’ with gentlemen requested to wear jackets when sporting a short-sleeved shirt, and no shorts. The Handbook doesn’t know about you, but this makes our skin tingle in all the right ways – the feeling that one should dress to impress for a special occasion rather than stumbling to dinner in ripped jeans and a hooded American Apparel top. Again, the restaurant boasts a refreshed interior following a substantial refurbishment (we’re spotting a theme here…) but the Lobster mac ‘n’ cheese and Steak tartare are reason enough to head here.
The Wolseley serves breakfast from 7am during the week and 8am on the weekend, and oh what a breakfast they serve! Adorned with classic morning dishes, the breakfast menu boasts Devilled lamb kidneys with crispy bacon, Grilled kipper with mustard butter and Kedgeree to name a few. The Handbook recommends you start with the viennoiserie, in particular the Croissant aux Amandes (almond croissant for you uncivilised lot!), before tucking into our firm favourite: Smoked salmon with scrambled eggs.
Nestled on the ground floor of a Soho townhouse, Dean Street Townhouse is THE place to go for a classic afternoon tea in the city. Relax into the snug mint green banquettes and enjoy traditional British scones, sandwiches and homemade cakes all afternoon. Choose from the Townhouse Tea, a steal at £19.50 or pick and choose from the High Tea and Afternoon Tea menus – Scotch duck egg, Ham egg & chips and buttered crumpets alike!
Where: 69-71 Dean Street, London, W1D 3SE, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Tottenham Court Road (0.4 miles)
Classic Seafood Restaurant
An institution since 1916, Bentley’s Oyster Bar has been serving fish and chips for almost 100 years. Now owned and operated by renowned chef Richard Corrigan, it’s still considered the finest dining destination in London when it comes to seafood, most notably for it’s stunning shellfish and oyster bar on the ground floor. Not only does it serve sublime shellfish, Bentley’s teaches you how to make your own at home – their seafood cookery classes run on Saturdays throughout the year. At £250 a pop, they include Champagne canapés, a three-course lunch with matched wines and a goodie bag including a signed cookbook from Corrigan himself – so all in all are actually a steal, especially considering you’re getting a masterclass from the best in the business.
Where: 11-15 Swallow Street, London, W1B 4DG, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus (0.3 miles)
Ok, we admit it – we adore Hawksmoor (those homemade salted caramel rolos… we know!). But when it comes to classic, no-frills just bloomin’ good A-grade steak, Goodman knocks it out the park! They dry-age their meat on site to bring out the full concentration of flavor and offer guests the opportunity to have their cuts to order. For lunch, enjoy a classic Steak Frites for £20 at the Mayfair installment: 250g USDA New York steak with peppercorn sauce on the side. Simple. Staple. Seriously yummy.