A Lyvly foodie's 12 favourite London restaurants
Sometimes it can feel like there are almost too many things to do in London. Where do you even start? We believe food is always the best place to begin your initiation to city life. Long-standing member and Lyvly Ambassador Mike Stead is a self-confessed foodie and pancake aficionado. So, who better than to take you through some of the best restaurants in London?
Super cheap eats
There's always plenty of options that won't break the bank, but it doesn't mean they're not very much worth a visit. The super cheap eats are often some of the best places to eat in London.
Kaosarn - Brixton and Clapham Junction
What this place lacks in great service (they like a quick turnaround and have no issue with serving you with bill whilst you’re still eating) it more than makes up for in flavourful food. Some of the best Thai south of the river, and also some of the cheapest, Koasarn serves dishes like King Prawn red curry for under a tenner. It’s also BYOB, making it a great place if you’re looking for a fun restaurant in London to kick start your evening.
Whilst you can find all of the usual meaty suspects at Badaboom, this Lebanese is also brilliant for vegetarians. Chargrilled cauliflower and broad bean falafel are two stand out dishes and, of course, they have hummus - aka vegan lifeblood - in abundance. The first Sunday of the month they host a monthly ‘Kebab Chase’ - where you can score a free kebab for running between their north and south London branches - proving kebabs aren’t just for people stumbling home from the pub.
The plates at 3 Little Birds may be small, but they pack a hell of a punch thanks to the Carribean inspired cuisine. A special mention has to go out to the Honey Jerk Chicken wings, as well as the Avocado Bon Bons (a millennial dream dish). The high standard of food is matched by an incredible cocktail list - which you can enjoy on a budget thanks to their daily happy hour.
We have plenty of homes just down the road from a couple of these places, so you could get the chance to enjoy them as a Lyvly member, with us taking care of all the life admin that gets in the way of popping out for a quick meal. Check out the rest of our tips of places to go in Clapham.
Sometimes you want to push the boat out, but only a little one, like a dinghy. These places offer a large step up from your average Nandos and are some of the best restaurants in London for a humpday treat.
Popolo is one of the best Italian restaurants in London - and it’s a little more adventurous than pizza and spaghetti carbonara. The small but perfectly formed dishes cost between £6 and £15, but be careful, you may end up ordering the whole menu. I love to take a seat at the bar next to the open kitchen, watching the masters at work as they create the likes of Sicilian red prawns and Delica squash ravioli.
Sticking with the Italian theme, Sorella brings a little bit of the Amalfi coast to Clapham Common. Much like its sister restaurant The Dairy (more on that later), Sorella’s menu is built on the freshest ingredients, produced on their very own farm. Everything on the menu is incredible, but the freshly made pasta with veal is particularly noteworthy and their take on a traditional Sunday lunch is bellissima.
Pidgin refuses to be pigeon holed. Its Asian inspired, 4 course tasting menu changes each week and at £45 including wine, it’s exceptional value for money. You can sign up for their newsletter to receive the new menu straight to your inbox every Monday, and if you see something you like, I’d advise making a reservation straight away - they tend to book up fast. Pidgin once held a Michelin star - rare for a restaurant so kind on the wallet - and with new Head Chef, Greg Clarke at the helm, it’s rumoured the star could be on its way back.
Our community in Dalston is a pretty vibrant and active bunch, so you'd have plenty of people to enjoy a trip to Pidgin with, as well as checking out some of the other places to check out.
Push the ⛵ out
We're stepping up the quality and price a little bit with these three. I absolutely love eating at all of them and can just about justify a monthly visit to one of them.
Told you we’d get to it! The Dairy is a gastronomic Clapham institution. Perfect for a special date night or a blow out when your family come to visit, the food is consistently rated by locals as some of the best in SW4. They have 3 set menus that change regularly - 1 garden, 1 sea and 1 land - catering for all palettes and dietaries. This place doesn’t have a Micheline Star yet, but it definitely should have.
If I could own and run my own restaurant, it would look like the Barbery. At the Israeli inspired restaurant, little sister of the much lauded Palomar, you can take a seat up at the hot plate and watch the chefs work their magic. Whilst the small plates are reasonably priced, they can add up if, like me, you tend to order around 10 dishes accompanied by a good bottle of wine.
Whilst I hate the phrase ‘Modern British’, it’s probably the best way of describing Garage 108. Much like The Dairy they are all about fresh local produce, but what they do with it is seasoned with a bit more innovation. I highly recommend the ‘nibbles’ - Nitrogen cooled popcorn was a tasty personal highlight - and this also the place that introduced me to red deer, which I’ll definitely be having again. They offer both a la carte and reasonably priced tasting menu, which changes seasonally.
biiiig Blow Out
There are plenty of Michelin star restaurants in London, many of which have very long waiting lists for a table. If you've got a bit occasion coming up, it's best to plan quite a way in advance so you don't get disappointed.
Simon Rogan’s Lake District restaurant L’Enclume has long been pinned as one of the best restaurants in the UK, with two Michelin stars under its belt. Luckily for those of us that live down South, we can now experience a bit of L'Enclume magic here in London, thanks to Roganic. The food is technical and impressive, unsurprising when you hear Simon cut his teeth at the likes of Claridges and the prices reflect the knowledge and artistry behind each dish.
Located in the iconic Michelin House, the combination of Bibendum’s heavenly food and its stain glass windows makes for quite the religious experience. Claude Boisie’s modern French inspired menu is incredible, the Cornish turbot and veal sweetbread particularly impressive. However, excellence does come at a price - the signature tasting menu is £185 a head (and that’s not including wine pairings). But, If you’re in the position for a blow out then Bibendum will blow you away.
Core is the first solo venture from Claire Smith, the first (and only) woman to run a three Michelin star restaurant. Her time at said restaurant - Gordon Ramsey (maybe you’ve heard of it?) - has clearly equipped her with the confidence to experiment with flavours, which she does with aplomb. Scottish langoustine with wasabi pea being a favourite, if not unique, combination of mine. Core is undeniably expensive, but with food this good, it’s worth every penny.
Whilst competition for my top 12 restaurants was high, I did just want to give a special shout out to this amazing pho restaurant. I stumbled across this place on a cold day after a visit to London Zoo and the warming and aromatic beef cheek pho was exactly the comfort food I was looking for. Highly recommend!
My London Pancake Tour
I refuse to subscribe to the notion that pancakes should only be eaten on Shrove Tuesday - I’m a true fan who wants to eat them all year round. After being refused annual leave from a new job, I decided to console myself by going on a Pancake Odyssey, hoping to discover the best places in London to get them. These are my top picks.
Some claim that RHC is the best brunch in London, and with their buttermilk pancake and triple smoked bacon combo, I can see why.
Ok, technically these are ricotta hotcakes, but they still make the cut. My motto is, cover anything in maple syrup and they’re just as good as the real thing.
For the fanciest pancake experience in the capital, it has to be The Wollesley. You can go for bacon, berries or just a side of absolute luxury.
If this has whet your appetite for all the fantastic restaurants London has to offer, you may be wondering how on earth you’re ever going to have time to get round them all?
With Lyvly, we take care of all the time-consuming admin that comes with running your home, so our members have more free time to enjoy life in London. Our community is also full of friendly London experts, like Mike, who know the best places to eat, drink and be merry in the capital and are ready to help you navigate your new city.