Stuck for inspiration on where to go for your birthday? A place to eat when the parents come to visit? or just fancy treating yourself one weekend? This list will give you some great ideas on where to eat in London for a special occasion, and tips to do so without breaking the bank!
From great value set menus, dining with a view or pressing a button for champagne! Here are the top 10 places to eat in London for a special occasion.
1. The Ivy, Covent Garden.
The Ivy is an iconic restaurant in the heart of Covent Garden known for its fantastic food, classic service and celebrity clientele. It opened way back in 1917 and has been known to feed some of the most famous faces IN THE WORLD. Everyone from Princess Diana to Lawrence Oliver, Bradley Cooper to Madonna! All these famous customers must mean you’ll need to win the lottery or rob a bank to go, right? Wrong! They do a 3 course set menu of classic dishes for under £30! If your feeling flash, a tip would be to get the two course and then a baked Alaska to share which is set on fire at the table! Seriously fancy! When eating at The Ivy expect traditional elegance and maybe a face or two you’ll know.
Set Menu Available: Monday – Thursday 2:30pm – 6pm and after 10pm. Sunday All day
2 Courses: £23.50
3 Courses: £27.50
A La Carte Menu: £15 – £43 for a main course
Dress code: Smart/Casual. Men are requested to wear jackets when wearing a short sleeve shirt. No shorts.
Great for: Pre-theatre dinner or an EXTRA special occasion.
2. Maggie Jones, High Street Kensington.
Photo Credit: Maggie Jones.
Rustic, cosy and romantic. That’s how Maggie Jones describe it on the website and their not wrong. Tucked in a side street in High Street Kensington, you’d never walk past it of an evening and that’s what makes it so special. It looks like nowhere you’ve eaten before with its wooden tables, hanging baskets and shabby chic decor; it feels like your eating in the English countryside. The menu is British inspired with chicken pies, roast lamb and the fillet steak you can cut through like butter. Go in the evening … it’s particularly beautiful with the flickering candlelight.
Menu Available : A La Carte – Main courses £14 – £28.50. All desserts £6.
Dress code: N/A
Great for: Date night.
3. Balthazar, Covent Garden.
Photo Credit: www.thetimes.com
When Balthazar hit London in February 2013 the waiting list was about 2 months long. Luckily things have calmed down a little now and getting a reservation is a bit easier. Balthazar opened up in New York in 1997 and has become a must go eatery in the big apple, and now in London. Think French brassiere meets New York with inspired dishes such as a very french coq au vin to very American mac & cheese. Not just mac & cheese – THE BEST MAC & CHEESE EVER. The set menu for under £25 changes every month and always has a good variety of delicious choices. Even that mac and cheese pops up sometimes. Oh yeah, and everyone gets complimentary bread from their own bakery on arrival. And it’s seriously good bread.
Prix Fixe Menu Available: Monday – Friday 12pm – 4pm. Monday – Sunday 5pm – 6:30pm.
2 Courses: £19.50
3 Courses: £22.50
A La Carte Menu: £14 – £35
Dress code: N/A
Great for: A birthday meal or pre-theatre dinner.
4. The Ned, Bank.
Photo Credit: https://www.epr.co.uk/
The Ned is a spectacular 5* hotel in the financial district of London. Inside of what used to be a bank, it boats luxurious bedrooms, swanky bars and the most beautiful food court you will ever see. You’ll have 8 restaurants to choose from which are all tucked away in their own little corner of this magnificent space and you can spend your evening eating while listening to live music played on The Ned’s own bandstand. If you’re with (or are) a fussy eater, you can choose from Italian at Cecconi’s, British at Millie’s and even settle down for the evening in their Californian restaurant, Malibu Kitchen. When you’ve finished, go and take a look at the bar downstairs which is inside a safe. Yes, an actual bank safe! It’s incredible! Although, unless you’re a club member, you will only be able to look.
Menu’s Available: 8 restaurants and 2 bars. (See website for more details)
Dress code: Whilst The Ned does not dictate a strict dress code policy, you should be presentably dressed at all times.
Great for: Fussy eaters as there’s a lot of options and people who appreciate beautiful surroundings and architecture.
5. Yashin Ocean House, West Brompton.
When you’re going out for a special occasion you don’t JUST want a meal, you want a whole experience. Yashin Sushi is the place of you. The restaurant itself is stunning with it’s ornate design and big, central open kitchen where you can watch the sushi masters themselves at work. The food is like a work of art – highly crafted, detailed and a real feast for all the senses. If you’re looking to impress the floating sashimi islands dancing in dry ice will do the trick. One for when you really want to treat yourself.
Menu Available: A La Carte – (See website for more details.) Tasting Menu £59 pp.
Dress code: N/A
Great for: Sushi lovers and people looking for a whole experience not just a meal.
6. Hawksmoor, Various Locations.
Photo credit: www.opentable.com
Hawksmoor is probably London’s most famous place for a steak. Book in before 6:30 pm Monday – Saturday or after 10 pm and you can get 3 whole courses for £28. Other times, you can enjoy the a la carte menu which features the most perfectly cooked steak you can imagine, decadant mac and cheese and what I say is the BEST dessert in London which is their signature sticky toffee pudding. If you happen to be there on a Sunday, the set menu is not available but the a la carte and the Sunday roast is. Not just any roast … THE best roast in London with bone marrow gravy and a Yorkshire pud the size of your head. You haven’t had a steak until you had one here.
Set Menu Available: Monday – Saturday until 6:30pm and after 10pm
2 Courses: £25
3 Courses: £28
Dress code: N/A
Great for: Fathers day, pre-theatre or just if you want to try a REALLY good steak.
7. Duck and Waffle, The City.
Duck and Waffle is probably THE most famous place for brunch in London. Their reservations come out 2 months to the day in advance and they’re snapped up within hours. Two reasons for this, the food and the view. Set on the 40th floor in the financial district, it has spectacular views over London and if you’re looking at it eating a peanut butter and jam waffle it looks even better! The good thing is you don’t have to spend loads of money to take advantage and you can get a coffee and a basket of pastries for just over a tenner. No, that’s not cheap but its reasonable for the experience your paying for. They are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They also do full late night menu if you make a visit at 3am or an early menu if fancy watching the sunrise with someone special.
Menu’s Available: Breakfast 6 am – 10 am, Brunch 11 am – 3:30pm weekends, All day Al A Carte
Dress code: We welcome and encourage style, however, we kindly ask that guests refrain from wearing shorts, beachwear, flip flops, and sportswear, including athletic trainers. Smart jeans are permitted.
Great for: Birthday brunch.
8. Bob Bob Ricard, Soho.
Photo Credit: www.bobbobricard.com
If you’re thinking of taking someone somewhere for a special occasion, what’s more special than a table that comes with its own ‘press for champagne’ button? Yes, you heard it right. A button that when pressed means champagne is delivered to your table in a flash. British inspired but Russian-owned, this is where the REAL rich people hang out. The kind of people who eat caviar because they actually like it. Very extravagant and luxurious. The menu is very decadent with truffles, lobster, and steak tartare to name a few, and champagne comes in at £13.95 a glass. A real treat place that everyone needs to go to at least once.
A La Carte Menu Available: Main courses range between £19.50 – £45 but lunch is offered 15% – 20% cheaper than dinner.
Dress code: Elegant. Ties are not required.
Great for: Girls Night.
9. Casse Croute, Bermondsey.
If you fancy a trip to Paris via South London Casse Croute is where you need to head. It’s a tiny little restaurant that seats a maximum of around 20 people and has a small but perfectly formed menu of French classics that changes every day. Casse Croute also features on my list of best London date night restaurants for all budgets which you can see here. Booking is essential. You will truly feel like you’ve truly stepped into France without leaving London. Very Parisian chic and romantic.
A La Carte Available: Menu changes everyday. Mains around £20-£30 mark. See Twitter feed for daily menu.
Dress code: N/A
Great for: Travelling to Paris without leaving London. Date night.
10. The Savoy, Covent Garden.
The Savoy is an iconic London landmark that everyone has to visit once in their life. Unless you’ve got a couple of hundred pounds in your pocket to stay the evening (wouldn’t that be lovely) it may not have been on your radar but you can still experience them by heading to The Grill for a beautiful dinner or to The Fairmont for the famous afternoon tea. They do an al a carte option with mains starting from £24 or they do a FANTASTIC set menu of 3 courses for under £30 which is SUCH good value for money. Afternoon tea is £65 pp. Booking essential. A great one to tick off the bucket list. You’re other half or family will be impressed.
Set Menu Available: 2 courses £31, 3 courses £35 Monday – Friday 5:30pm- 6:30pm, 9:30pm – 10:30pm. Not Available Saturday evening.
A La carte Menu: Mains £24 – £42
Dress code: N/A
Great for: Impressing people, a big birthday, a Christmas celebration.