The hospitality field has long been dominated by men, and the most recent count shows that women represent just 17 percent of professional chefs working in the UK. However, as we take a closer look at our favourite women-led restaurants in London, things are looking up, with more and more women making a name for themselves in London’s brilliant dining industry.
This International Women’s Day we’re celebrating the talented women behind our favourite female-fronted restaurants. From female chefs to founders, these are the most exciting women-led eateries to support now (and always).
The Best Women-Led Restaurants In London
Pip Lacey, Hicce
Headed up by Great British Menu winner and former Murano head chef Pip Lacey, this gorgeous restaurant based in Coal Drops Yard proudly serves up modern British fare whilst embodying the ‘hicce’ ethos of good food, good drinks and incredible company.
Enjoy sharing plates paired with an impressive wine list – including a section dedicated to low intervention organic and natural wines.
Sally Abé, The Pem
Sally Abé oversees the food and drink offering at The Pem, serving divine dishes with exceptional flavour, made from the freshest produce, and an intriguing wine list. The restaurant is named after suffragette Emily Wilding Davison, known as ‘Pem’, channeling the same dedication, commitment, passion and care into the food.
A women-led establishment through and through, Sally’s hand-picked team of women includes Michelin-trained Head Chef Laetizia Keating.
Clare Smyth, Core by Clare Smyth
One of the most recognised female chefs in the industry, Clare Smyth was the UK’s first female chef to win three Michelin stars, catered Harry and Megan’s wedding, and cooked 600 meals a week for charities and local hospitals during the first lockdown.
Core is her multi award winning restaurant in Notting Hill, where the fine dining menu is as elegant as it is photogenic. With beautifully crafted dishes with an emphasis on natural, sustainable, artisanal food, it’s a must-visit for anyone who appreciates exciting, delicious and impeccably crafted food.
The fine dining menu is as elegant as it is photogenic.
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A modern West African menu, blending age-old recipes with modern flavour.
Adejoké Bakare, Chishuru
Originally a supper club, Chishuru became a permanent fixture in Brixton when Adejoké Bakare won the amateur category of 2019’s Brixton Kitchen competition and she landed herself a spot on Market Row.
The restaurant boasts a modern West African menu, blending age-old recipes with modern flavour. The restaurant is currently closed ahead of a new site opening in summer 2023 and we can’t wait to visit.
Where: Unit 9 Market Row, Coldharbour Ln, London SW9 8LB
Imogen Davis, Native at Browns
In a part of town that’s not short of great restaurants, Native at Browns, co-founded by Imogen Davis, stands out for its melding of fun, playful food and sustainably sourced ingredients: think their Native Fish Fillet with brown crab rarebit and seaweed tartar sauce; and ‘Marrowmel’, a white chocolate and bone marrow caramel dessert.
Pair the innovative food with an all-natural wine list and foraged cocktails.
Playful food and sustainably sourced ingredients.
Where: Browns 39, Brook St, London W1K 4JE
Dipna Anand, Dipna Anand at Somerset House
After feeding the nation real, authentic Indian food at her family’s restaurant in Southall, Dipna Anand has brought the tastes of Punjabi and South Indian food to the iconic Somerset House.
Settle into a booth by the window and sample dishes like meat and vegetable thalis, lamb kofta curry, Papa Ji’s masala fish, chilli paneer, and a delicious Gajar ka Halwa for dessert. Perfectly positioned between Covent Garden and Waterloo, with beautiful décor – it’s the perfect spot for a riverside rendezvous in the city.
Nokx Majozi, The Pie Room
The Pie Room is the ultimate spot for comfort-food lovers who also enjoy a little bit of luxury. Located within The Holborn Dining Room at Rosewood London, you’ll fall in love with the setting as soon as you walk in, but it’s the beautifully crafted pies from the restaurant’s iconic Pie Room that will keep you coming back for more. Head Pie Maker Nokx Majozi is at the helm of the institution, which makes over 200 pies every day. Having taken over the reins in 2022, she has plans to weave some South African influence into the menu, whilst still respecting the traditional British pie, and we’re already itching to go back and try some more of her creations.
Luckily, The Pie Hole is re-opening this week, which means busy Londoners can order and collect these savoury delicacies directly from The Pie Room’s handy street-side hatch.
Chantelle Nicholson, Apricity
A major success from the first recipient of a Michelin Green Star, adrjChantelle Nicholson’s Mayfair restaurant takes sustainability sourced ingredients seriously, with a zero waste approach to cooking too.
Go a la carte, or opt for the tasting menu which comes in at £89 for seven courses. There’s even a Culinary Kids Tasting Menu for the youngsters, designed to be creative and accessible, helping children expand their taste buds and learn more about where food comes from.
Chantelle Nicholson’s Mayfair restaurant takes sustainability sourced ingredients seriously, with a zero waste approach to cooking.
Monica Galetti, Mere
Monica Galetti became a household name in 2008 when she joined the BBC2 team as a judge on Masterchef: The Professionals, but the celebrated chef is also the founder of her very own fine dining restaurant, Mere, in Fitzrovia.
The restaurant is named after her mother (pronounced ‘Mary’ in Samoan, and derived from the French word for mother), and blends classical French cuisine with South Pacific influences, celebrating both Monica and her husband’s heritage.. Dishes are as delicious and elegantly presented as you would expect, in a relaxed yet refined atmosphere.
Janina Wolkow, JIJI
Find us a more unique food fusion than Japan and the Middle East – the flavour explosion that can be found at Janina Wolkow’s JIJI.
Already owner of world-renowned multi award winning restaurant Sumosan, the newly opened restaurant and exciting dining concept is her latest venture, creatively combining Japanese and Middle Eastern ingredients for incredible flavours, colours, aromas, and sumptuous cocktails.
Margaux Aubrey, Naughty Piglets
Lyonnaise Margaux Aubrey is the woman behind Naughty Piglets, a buzzy Brixton bistro (now with a second outpost in Victoria) serving up creative seasonal sharing plates and an extensive list of natural wines.
The intimate atmosphere and friendly service gives neighbourhood-restaurant-in-France vibes, and the food is delicious – from Devon crab with peanut and yuzu, to blood orange panna cotta.
Anna Haugh, Myrtle
Co. Waterford lemon posset, a Salmon Of Knowledge from Co. Clare, beef fillet from the Burren national park, a side of colcannon… Chelsea restaurant Myrtle, owned by Executive Head Chef Anna Haugh, has gained a name for itself as one of the best Irish restaurants out there.
Having worked for celebrated chefs Philip Howard, Shane Osborne and Gordon Ramsay, and now a judge on MasterChef: The Professionals, the food at Myrtle blends modern European cooking with Irish influence, where each signature dish has a story and connection to Ireland.
Angela Hartnett, Murano
Michelin starred food and a warm, welcoming atmosphere characterise this delightful Italian restaurant from Angela Hartnett.
It’s one of the few restaurants to hold 4 AA rosettes, and has a women-led team across the board, from Laura Harris as Restaurant Director, to Em Brightman as Head Chef.
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Kimberley Lin, Lilly’s Café
With The Square, The Savoy, Corinthia and Claridge’s under her belt, Lilly’s Cafe was founded in 2021 by professional pastry chef Kimberley Lin. This stunning conservatory on the ground floor of Covent Garden’s 3 Henrietta Street serves up a global menu, delicious cakes, and incredible teas – all brought together with mood-boosting natural ingredients and inspired by gems, signs of the zodiac and the elements.
And if your sweet tooth wasn’t satisfied enough, she also created Floozie Cookie, a delicious stuffed vegan cookie concept located just across the piazza.
Skye Gyngell, Spring
Set in a 19th century drawing room in Somerset House, this sustainability-first restaurant from acclaimed chef Skye Gyngell is one of London’s most beautiful dining spaces.
Formerly head chef at Petersham Nurseries, she’s broken completely new ground with Spring, eliminating single use plastics from the restaurant, using sustainably sourced ingredients, and creating a pre-theatre ‘scratch menu’ for £30, where all dishes are made from ingredients that would otherwise have been wasted.
Where: Lancaster Pl, London WC2R 1LA
Shining a light on the women taking the lead in the wine industry.
Carole Bryone, Lady Of The Grapes
A French restaurant and wine bar that supports women winemakers, Lady of the Grapes was founded by Parisian Carole Bryone with the aim of shining a light on the women taking the lead in an industry that has traditional been male-dominated.
Wines are organic and biodynamic, with minimal intervention, complimenting authentic, simple sharing plates and board with a French twist.
Where: 16 Maiden Ln, London WC2E 7NJ
Asma Khan, Darjeeling Express
One of the UK’s brightest culinary stars, Asma Khan was the first chef to be featured on Vogue’s list of 25 most influential women, the first British chef to be profiled in Netflix’s Chef’s Table, and is a best-selling cookbook author.
She’s also the owner of Darjeeling Express, where her all-female team serve up home-style Indian food to warm the soul, derived from family recipes that go back generations. What started as a supper club seating just twelve people, soon grew to the large Kingly Court spot the restaurant can be found at today, with platters of dishes that encourage you to gather and share in the style of the traditional ‘daawat’ (feast). Tuck into Paneer Korma, Zeera Phalli (green beans with cumin and dried red chillies), and our personal favourite dish, Prawn Malaikari.
Jemima Jones & Lucy Carr-Ellison, Wild By Tart
Treat yourself to a mouthwatering meal and neighbourhood restaurant Wild by Tart, founded by Jemima Jones and Lucy Carr-Ellison.
Showcasing a sustainable and seasonal approach to food, with a focus on charcoal grills and wood oven, the menu is relaxed with a focus on small and sharing plates. Think beetroot hummus with toasted pine nuts and flatbread; Cornish cod with spiced lentils, yoghurt and cashew tarka; and mussels with lemongrass, lime, curry leaves and coconut milk. Ingredients are sourced locally, and where possible from Jemima and Lucy’s respective farms in Somerset and Northumberland.
Florence Knight, Sessions Arts Club
One of the most stylish restaurant openings of 2021, Farringdon’s Sessions Arts Club has got you covered for brilliant food in a stunning space.
Led by chef Florence Knight (formerly of Polpetto), the fantastic food is Italian and French leaning, with a focus on sustainability.
Where: Old Sessions House, 24 Clerkenwell Grn, London EC1R 0NA, United Kingdom