Street food galore, hipster diners, Michelin star fine dining. London is a foodie’s heaven.
But not for everyone. As an Expater, you don’t have time to research the best restaurants in town, and besides there are so many new places that you just can’t agree among friends. In any case, the reservation waiting list is six months long and you’ll be moving countries in five. You’ve queued three hours in the rain, only to find yourself in a cramped tourist spot serving bland (microwaved?) meals at exorbitant prices.
Don’t give up. Let my friend Albert take you for dinner.
Albert Olivier is the founder of ultra personalised concierge services 100 Lifestyle and Zero Zero Travel. He and his team dish up the goods, be it a reservation at a no reservation policy restaurant, a last minute date at a top fashionista hangout or amazing transport to get you there (elephant is the new Uber FYI).
Born in London, and eating out every day of the week, if anyone knows where to eat, it’s Albert. While he wouldn’t share his secrets on blagging the best tables (I did ask… repeatedly), he did round up all the top spots for me:
Best for entertaining clients – Sushi Samba. It has breathtaking views over London and the food is great.
Best for a casual quick bite – Rosa’s. They cook the best thai food, it’s reasonably priced and the service is quick. Otherwise Home Slice – because sometimes you just need pizza.
Best for meat lovers – Cut at 45 Park Lane, arguably the best steak you’ll get in London.
Best for vegans – Cook Daily, a tiny, hip restaurant in Box Park in Shoreditch. A must try even for people who aren’t vegan.
Best for traditional British – Holborn Dining Room. Great decor and even better food.
Best for halal – I love Lebanese and Persian food, most of which is halal and I’d recommend Alounak in Kensington in particular. A simple, rustic place where it’s all about the authentic food.
Best for pre-theatre – Bocca di Lupo, a superb Italian right in the heart of the West End theatre district.
Hottest new restaurants – There’s a new restaurant opening in London every week, and the latest one to catch people’s eye is The Wigmore, an elegant but traditional pub with menus by Michel Roux Jr. In terms of the most popular, Sexy Fish has been the hottest restaurant in town for a while now.
Best for date night – Hakkasan. The Cantonese food and cocktails are great, but it’s the lighting and atmosphere which makes it perfect for a romantic evening. A firm favourite of mine.
And finally… Albert’s top tips for newbie expats in London:
I think the problem, like in any major city is that in quite a lot of the tourist areas the restaurants are boring, overpriced and offer bland food. So don’t be afraid to explore new parts of town.
Social media and newsletters are great way to stay in touch with new openings. [The Expater recommends Emerald Street and The Nudge in particular]
Albert Olivier is the founder of concierge services 100 Lifestyle and Zero Zero One Travel. 100 Lifestyle is a boutique concierge service, limited to 100 clients for an ultra personalised service. In August 2016, Albert launched Zero Zero One Travel – an elite travel service, without the elite price tag for ‘the intelligent traveller’.