I’m definitely a fast-casual kinda girl, but equally, I am also occasionally a fancy bitch. And fancy bitches don’t spill Shake Shack cheese sauce on their new jeans, they drop a raw oyster down their blouse.
My favourite places to get that little bit of luxury- preferably around the payday period- have a lot of class, but also don’t mind if you don’t know an ile flottante from your elbow. I thought I’d round up a few of the nicest for you in case you’re scheming any hot dates or have an ASOS delivery with a cocktail dress you have no plans for yet.
Out on the river, past fancy Shad Thames and within Snapchatting distance of Tower Bridge, sits Pont de la Tour. Recently refurbished, the restaurant oozes old school glam, with a more than fleeting feel of an Oriental Express First Class carriage.
Our dinner, of course, was superb. I started with oysters- fresh and sharp- and shared the duck main with my boyfriend. It’s served in two sittings- the first a succulent and perfectly pink duck breast carved out in front of us by a sweet Maitre’D- and the second and cripsy, salty confit duck leg. Both dishes were magnificent, and the theatre of food being carved in front of us had Jonathan and I practically crying with anticipation.
Staff are a little eager to please, with one chap bursting through the middle of a quick kiss to top up our water glasses, but they are endlessly polite, and knew every single thing about the wine that left us wandering out with a warm fuzzy feeling. Top marks.
Best for: Old school glamour.
PS: They also have a beautiful deli right next door, where I recently bought the best sandwich I have ever had. Go there.
French wine aficionados Taillevent recently moved to the UK to ply willing Londoners with one hundred and ten high quality wines, paired perfectly with traditional French dishes. Each item on the menu is joined by a choice of four wines, which I worked my way through with vigour.
Beautiful squid to start, followed by an autumnal, hearty beef cheek dish, and a dish called ‘Childhood Remembered’ for the grand dessert finale (not realising nor caring that the dessert was intended to be shared between two, I might add). Each dish is joined by a glass of wine, elegantly adorned with a little collar detailing the qualities of it’s content. If it sounds like a gimmick, then you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how genuine, well thought through, and delightful it actually is.
Best for: A little slice of Paris in London, subtle luxury and an unbeatable choice of vin.
There is something undoubtedly luxurious about The Shard. Probably the sleekest building in London, swanning in with a reservation and being flown up in a lift to be greeted with a stunning view and a beautiful restaurant is hands down one of the best feelin’ fancy moments you can have.
Hutong serves incredible dim sum- their speciality of course being whole roasted duck- and orient-inspired cocktails. This is Chinese food done incredibly well, and with all the finesse you’d expect from one of the city’s most glamorous locations. When I have visited, I’ve picked a handful of dishes from the set lunch menu- making Hutong one of the most affordable luxury destinations in London. Of course, as with any fine dining destination, you can order wildly expensive meals, but if you’re savvy you can leave feeling full, happy, and none the poorer.
Best for: Northern Chinese food, cocktails, and affordable luxury.
Possibly the most talked about restaurant in London- and certainly one of the coolest chefs- Dan Doherty’s Duck and Waffle is an undisputed champion of destination dining. Perched on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower, by Liverpool Street Station, the restaurant is open 24-hours a day. Though I’m sure it’s fabulous at 3am, I’ve never managed to get myself out of bed for that time, but can thoroughly recommend their breakfast.
I’ve been three times now, one as a surprise from a SUPER sweet colleague when I was new and nervous to London, once for a BFFs’ birthday, and once to show off London to my visiting mother (turns out slightly afraid of heights, oops) each time it was spectacular, with early morning London mists rising to reveal the city, stretching for miles. When you have a showstopper view, you’d probably be forgiven for relaxing the quality of food, but D&W rises to challenge and plates up incredible food- the namesake being crisp, confit duck leg with freshly griddled waffle. An absolute stunner.
Best for: Breakfasts. And for taking London newbies.