As they say, ‘If the cafe Fitz…’, and in Fitzrovia it surely always does because this pocket of north-of-Oxford-Street has a great selection of restaurants for your delectation. So without further ado, here’s some of the very best…
If you’ve enjoyed Hakkasan’s dark and alluring Bruton Street masterpiece, then you’ll definitely want to head to the original, up on Hanway Place and worth every point on its Michelin star. Serving some of London’s best Cantonese cuisine, the interior plays second fiddle to the action on the plate. This is Hakkasan ground-zero, as well as the Mayfair spin-off it’s now got satellites as far afield as San Francisco and Dubai.
Great for: Try their dim sum before you die (as in put it on your bucket list, clearly the two events are not related)
pièce de résistance
Despite being called ‘a foot of land’, Pied à Terre isn’t, in fact, the smallest restaurant in London. It is, however, one of the best. At nearly thirty years old you might think that it might be getting long in the tooth, but as one of London’s longest-standing Michelin Star holders the restaurant simply keeps on churning out hit after hit, not least its cheeseboard, which has been the French restaurant’s pièce de résistance since it opened back in 1991.
Great for: French cuisine, obviously, check out the tiny bar, Petite Chambre
The London Edition plays host to Chef Jason Atherton and his Michelin Starred Berners Tavern. If you thought that it would be in any way taverny (low ceilings, horse brasses on the wall, barmaids pulling pints and so on), think again. Grandiose, with ceilings higher than a medium sized skyscraper and wood panelled walls teaming with art, some of it half-decent, and an impressive ceiling height bar. The contemporary British cuisine is difficult to find fault with and dinner here is certainly an experience. Just don’t ask for one of the bottles from the top shelf…
Great for: Impressive surroundings
Rock on down to ROKA on Charlotte Street for something a little different, in the form of Japanese robatayaki-style fresh sushi and tempura as well as robata grilled dishes while diners watch the action in the centre of the restaurant. Launched in 2004, the look remains modern and fun, like counter dining from a counter made from single cuts of tree trunk are worth checking out, or the massive manga-style murals upstairs in the Sochu Lounge.
Great for: Try the shiso lollipops
Sat on the corner of a rather indistinguishable office-style block, The Riding House Cafe succeeds in being rather more than distinguished. With some quirky decor, and comfortable seating, it’s ideal for either hanging about day-drinking and ‘sitting soft’ or settling down to a slap up dinner. The European menu is great, and the success of The Riding House Cafe has spawned siblings in Victoria and Bermondsey.
Great for: All meals, but don’t overlook the breakfasts
If you thought that Oscars lived in dustbins, South African jails or on the mantlepieces of sex offenders, then think again, here’s an Oscar that’s worth its weight in truffle oil, thanks to Oscar at the Charlotte Street Hotel. Decked out in gorgeous colour, as you’d only expect for a Firmdale Hotel, a group with truly impeccable taste, don’t just go up the wall about what’s up the walls, because the European food is pretty fine as well.
Great for: Terrace dining, watching Charlotte Street go by as you munch away
Where: 15-17 Charlotte Street, London, W1T 1RJ, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Goodge Street (0.3 miles)
Named not after the M&S pigs, but the family name of the Dukes of Northumberland (Percy) and the founders of the Middlesex Hospital in the year 1755. Percy & Founders serves modern British and European cuisine and is set across a number of rooms, each with a different vibe and all with the same high standard of cooking and looking into Pearson Square. Interestingly, they’re embracing the future and have ditched cash as a form of payment altogether, so you can save it for the cab journey home as your driver will almost certainly have the opposite policy.
Great for: All-day casual dining
ROVI is apparently named after FitzROVIa, geddit? Let’s hope they don’t open in Cockfosters… One of the Ottelenghi restaurants, they make the food that’s in your cookbook, but properly. Really properly. The menu focusses on vegetables, but has also brought fermentation centre stage, as well as embracing ‘cooking over fire’.
Great for: Veg, veg and more veg
Despite sharing a name with the industrial capital of Oregon, USA, the menu at Portland is modern European and, on reflection, it’s probably named after the road on which it sits. Great Portland Street’s finest, though, is well worth a visit, focussing on simplicity and the tasting menu alone makes it worth a visit.
Great for: Wine by the glass
If you think that spending more than a weekend with your other half is a tough ask, then first perhaps seek counselling, but second spare a thought for husband and wife team Monica and David Galetti; they run a restaurant together! The restaurant is Mere and despite the name, a glance at the slick interiors proves there’s nothing Mere about it. Actually named after the French for ‘mother’, Mere the cuisine is, unusually, South Pacific–influenced French food, which alone makes it worth a visit in our eyes.
Great for: The tasting menu is highly recommended