South Kensington, a bizarre clash of old English respectability (seven bed house in The Boltons? That’ll be £49,000,000 please), meets French people (the Lycée’s on Cromwell Road) and a thriving Arab community, and all clashing with heavy throng of touristic all-comers heading to museumland, where the V&A, Science Museum and Natural History Museum vye for square footage with tens of thousands of Imperial College students. And because they all need feeding, there’s a vibrant restaurant scene to be found in this loosely defined space between Chelsea, Knightsbridge, High Street Ken and Earl’s Court.
Bright and breezy in appearance, Ceru proves that it’s not only rather beautiful to look at, the food is whatever the Middle Eastern for smorgasbord is of excellent dishes. The Levantine menu brings some of the region’s best cuisine to bear. And not just food, the wine list has some strong contenders from Lebanon, Cyprus, Crete and Macedonia ready to be quaffed.
Great for: The homemade lemonade
Where: 7-9 Bute Street, Kensington, London SW7 3EY, United Kingdom
Nearest station: South Kensington (0.2 miles)
O-fish-ally the best seafood joint in South Kensington, since joining just a couple years back Claude Bosi has managed to garner two Michelin stars for this, the restaurant that’s had Michelin above the door for decades, but had never been unable to land its most sought after catch. The former motor garage and tyre shop, Bibendum was for years the headquarters of Michelin tyres (Bibendum is the actual name of the Michelin Man, for any pub quizzers out there), but was bought by Sir Terrance Conran in the ’80s and undergoing various transformations before big-boss Bosi walked in and elevated the restaurant to its current heights.
Great for: Anything with gills
Where: Michelin House, 81 Fulham Road, London, SW3 6RD, United Kingdom
Nearest station: South Kensington (0.4 miles)
Having banged on about Bibendum, we insist that Wright Brothers shouldn’t feel sheepish to show its face on this list. If paying sky rocket prices for tiny dishes isn’t your thing then head to Wright Brothers for authentically delishy fishy dishes. The oyster specialists on the Old Brompton Road may be shucking brilliant, but so is the downstairs bar, The Mermaid, where you can find some of the best cocktails in the Royal Borough.
Great for: Oysters, you’ve got to try them
Apparently this used to be Princess Di’s favourite hangout, and that was before it won a Michelin star! The charming restaurant has had a renaissance of sorts over the last decade as part of the D&D restaurant empire. The modern European food is beautifully presented and lovingly created thanks to some adroit head cheffery under Ben Murphy, making a restaurant that was firm royal favourite undoubtedly one of ours too.
Great for: The lobster bisque is exquisite
Where: 1a Launceston Place, London, W8 5RL, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Gloucester Road (0.5 miles)
If you’re a sucker for all things royal, then suck on this: it’s one of Prince William and Kate’s favourites. The royal couple even took their entire household (um, servants), there for their annual Christmas dinner. If republican strains render that not enough to persuade you to get on the blower now to book a table then rest assured that the relaxed atmosphere (bring the kids) and modern British menu will be more than enough to bring you around.
Great for: Bumpkin Ale, they brew it themselves
Where: 102 Old Brompton Road, London SW7 3RD, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Gloucester Road (0.4 miles)
Evening Standard restaurant critic Fay Maschler famously lampooned Restaurant Ours, quoting an apparently overheard conversation asking “Why has that Tom Sellers called his new restaurant Arse?”, the review led to a rare response from the chef himself that the restaurant has had difficulty shaking off since (our mentioning it again probably doesn’t help). But what might have been a tricky beginning has overshadowed an otherwise solid restaurant that has gone from strength-to-strength since. The food is great, the surroundings are relatively stunning and the whole vibe is a little foolish and over-the-top but well worth experiencing, if only once.
Great for: The entrance (pictured) is rather unique
Wandering away from South Kensington? Why not check out some of our other favourite places to eat in…