“Fine dining is dead” murmured chef Jose Pizarro provocatively not long ago. He wasn’t wrong – white tablecloths and awkward service that neither eater nor waiter feel comfortable with are both things of the past. So what of glamour?
In recent years restaurants have had a casual revolution.
It has been a miraculous reinvention that has meant good food has been reaching the mouths of plenty more people, namely the type of people who wouldn’t be seen dead in a ‘posh’ fine dining restaurant.
Now you can eat Michelin-starred food, literally, on the street corner. (A Singaporean restaurant sold their Michelin-starred dishes for £6 a pop at a street food market in King’s Cross only recently).
But does all this accessibility of delicious food mean there’s no pomp and ceremony to eating out anymore? What if you *want* to get dressed up for dinner?
These days, restaurants are replacing stiff service and fussy finishes with a new type of glamour.
A new reinvention of fine dining means you can eat in a luxurious environments without feeling perpetually awkward or out of place. Modern service is changing, but there are still ways to eat like a Queen, in a stunning restaurant, only now it’s more likely there won’t be white tablecloths.
Restaurants are reimagining glamour using unusual materials, such as a stone or polished concrete, and pairing this look of glamour with a relaxed atmosphere.
Here are some of our favourite restaurants doing glamour unpretentiously.
Bob Bob Ricard
What is it? This glamorous Soho restaurant has been modernised with a fuss-free approach, but still the same high quality English and Russian food. It has a glamorous bistro feel to it, and dozens of gold embellishments so the place looks a billion dollars.
Why go? There’s the iconic ‘Press for Champagne’ button you will have caught mention of in the press – and they’re installed at every table. Granted, this one’s for special occasions, but heck, it’s worth pulling the stops out for Bob Bob Ricard.
What is it? King of unpretentious glamour, Ollie Dabbous is launching his new restaurant this spring with the country’s largest wine list. The restaurant, which is opening in Piccadilly has kept much of the finer detail undisclosed, although if Ollie’s other restaurants are anything to go by (Henrietta in Covent Garden is his latest) it’ll have an eccentric, design-led feel with stunningly good food.
Why go? To work your way through 7,000 bottles of wine in a relaxed environment with no snotty sommelier peering over your shoulder.
What is it? Elsytan Street’s head chef Phil Howard had a fall from grace, after spiralling into drug addiction, but the celebrated cook had made his return with Elystan Street. Phil serves gorgeous-looking internationally-inspired food in his laid-back restaurant. Its design is Nordic-inspired, with neutral colour tones and curved wooden furniture – truly spectacular, and casual at the same time: a world-class dining environment without any of the faff of fine dining.
Why go? For spectacular food combining unusual flavours and textures in a environment fit for royalty.
What is it? Chef Monica Galletti heralds from fine dining environments, but at Mere – her first solo venture – she has made every effort to serve exceptional ingredient-led food in a relaxed way. Impressively, even the sound and lighting in the restaurant has been precision-engineered so that it’s never overwhelming, even on busy weekend nights.
Why go? To sample Monica’s characteristic dishes which mix sweet and savoury in a setting that is far from pompous or stuck-up (there’s even a dish on the menu with Marmite, yum)…
What is it? This group of Indian restaurants is growing across London, but each retains its independent feel. Highly luxurious inside, but with plenty of tables reserved for walk-ins, the restaurants are loud, social hubs for communal dining.
Why go? The restaurants are inspired by 20th Century Indian decadence, so are glittering with precious and ornamental finishes – but a modern approach to dining means everyone’s welcome, not just the Indian royal families
What is it? The posh Langham hotel just up from Oxford Circus boasts a contemporary ‘tavern’, where punch is the celebrated drink, served communal-style from large punch bowls in the way they were in the boozy, smoke-filled pubs of a bygone era.
Why go? The hotel, and the Wigmore pub within the hotel are both lavishly decorated and are highly stylish, with historical fixtures and fittings and high ceilings which look down on studded leather banquette seating. It’s truly lush – and refreshingly, the bar celebrates punch – hardly the drink you’d traditionally associate with a place like this. It epitomises their fuss-free attitude to drinking.
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Petersham Nurseries Covent Garden
What is it? Petersham Nurseries in Richmond offers all kinds of bespoke classes, like flower-arranging and essentially blends a lovely restaurant with a proper garden centre, because why not? Now there’s a second outpost in central London.
Why go? To pour over stunning floral displays and eat in a restaurant decorated with them, where flora and fauna (very on-trend, darling) pour into every corner. They say you’re happier in rooms surrounded by flowers, and if that’s the case you’ll be ecstatic here. Restaurant to open in the spring.