Dining out in London is easy; you only have to wander a few paces from a tube station and you’ll be met with more options than you can shake a stick at. From chains to independent eateries, we’re spoilt for choice in the city, especially now more unique, beautifully designed and veggie-friendly options are popping up. Speaking of which, we’ve compiled a little list of our favourite restaurants guaranteed to delight creatives, because let’s face it, sometimes decor can sway us more than the food on offer. Here are London’s best design-led spots, serving up delicious cocktails and notably great menus too.
155 Bar & Kitchen
Perched on Farringdon Road, we love this place for its laid-back vibe, mid-century meets Scandi interior and unpretentious yet seriously tasty modern fare. Part of the Clerkenwell London group, 155 Bar & Kitchen is a little like the Tardis — popping to the toilet will take you longer than expected because you won’t be able to resist having a snoop around the retro vinyl lounge, rustic-looking wine cellar and slick function and exhibition rooms filled with wonderful design-led lifestyle pieces downstairs.
The cocktails come in metallic goblets, sheepskin rugs and succulents adorn the tables and chairs and the soundtrack is a chilled mix of funk and soul. The perfect place for a cosy meal, or drinks at the dark-wood parquet bar, we recommend a visit and a choice of brightening Instagram filter to offset the low mood lighting by night.
Designed by Tom Dixon and his Design Research Studio, Bronte is a creative’s dream. Picture lofty ceilings offset by pink concrete, teal and emerald-hued banquettes and signature metallic lighting in brassy and rose-gold tones. Strange artefacts offset the smooth, streamlined aesthetic for a strangely Kubrick-esque finish in some spaces, whereas in others, you’ll find nothing but curves and bright lights to offset the lovingly prepared Asian-inspired menu of salads, grills and sambals. Head here for the cocktail and to take in the view, as the food can be a little pricy.
If you haven’t heard of Sketch, you’re in for a treat. One of London’s stranger offerings, this Mayfair spot is a hit among fans of pastel pink, David Shrigley and fine dining. Comprised of a main lounge-style restaurant filled with kitsch pink velvet seating and white tablecloths, the walls are lined with illustrations by Shrigley and even the crockery bears his scribbles and foreboding, tongue-in-cheek messages.
We love this place with all our hearts for its aesthetic — especially the giant egg toilet cubicles and disco-inspired light-up bathroom floor — however, there’s a slight disconnect between hopeful art fans clutching their £15 cocktails and the cash-money crowd who’ll drop in for afternoon tea, seemingly not fussed by the decadent surroundings. A must-visit spot, head here if you can splurge and check out the opulent champagne bar and upcoming gallery collaborations too.
Beach Blanket Babylon
Another insanely decadent restaurant located in Shoreditch, Beach Blanket Babylon is a feast for the eyes. A jazzier version of its sister bar and restaurant in Notting Hill (which is still pretty impressive with its roaring fires and palatial regency-inspired lounges), this place wins at decor.
Touting weird, luxe and atmospheric surroundings, there are plenty of rooms to choose from. The Club is a rich red room, offset by gilt detailing and plush seating where you can order by the bottle and dance the night away. We like the bar for a taste of eclectic design sense — bleached wood panelling and victorian street lamps blend with blue tones and fresh greenery — or alternatively, settle in for the evening in the restaurant’s cracked leather booths under clashing antique and ultra-modern lighting for some seasonal produce and bloody marys in generously proportioned crystal tumblers.
This is an interesting pick and of course, a totally vegetarian one. Based in central London, just off Oxford Street, Ethos is a unique spot with a bright airy interior complete with magical birch trees sprouting up through the floor. Help yourself to plates piled high with veggie delights and take plenty of photos — the curved wood-clad furniture catches the light beautifully, while huge windows let in the sun during the day. The vibe is minimalist with marble tables and exposed bulbs, just be careful how much you load onto your plate to avoid paying a hefty bill — this one is a pay-by-weight restaurant.
Words: Emily Beeson | @younggoldteeth