The Best Wine Bar Food in Town
Wine bars have always been popular in London, with chains such as Davy's (www.davy.co.uk), and Corney & Barrow (www.corney-barrow.co.uk), leading the way. The independents, however, usually have a quirkier choice of wines.
Bedford & Strand, 1a Bedford St., WC2 (tel.) 020/7836-3033; www.bedford-strand.com; Tube: Charing Cross) is tucked away in a basement with a packed bar and dining area. It's a favorite for the after-work crowd; the small wine list is excellent and the food straightforward charcuterie and cheese platters and bistro dishes including classic fish pie or lamb chops. Main courses range from £10.50 to £18.40. It's open Monday to Friday noon until midnight, Saturday 5pm to midight.
For around 40 years, Kiwi Don Hewitson has been stocking Cork & Bottle, 44-46 Cranbourn St., WC2 (tel. 020/7734-7807; www.thecorkandbottle.co.uk; Tube: Leicester Sq.), with a startlingly wide range of wines from the cheap-and-cheerful to the top end. Order the famous raised ham and cheese pie any time of the day, and enjoy the bonhomie of this Sixties basement setting. Main courses range from £14 to £18. It's open Monday to Saturday 11am to 11:30pm, Sunday noon until 10:30pm.
Shampers, 4 Kingly St., W1 (tel. 020/7437-1692; www.shampers.net; Tube: Oxford Circus), has been feeding and watering Londoners since 1977 in its wine bar and formal basement restaurant. Gravadlax to start and then daily specials along with succulent grills accompany a huge, knowledgeable wine list. Main courses cost between £12.95 and £18.75. It's open Monday to Saturday from noon to 11pm.
London's Top Art Gallery Restaurants
Cash-strapped museums saw the light long ago, and the best of them opened restaurants that were designed to become destinations in their own right. Now it's the norm to expect top dining along with your priceless artifacts.
The National Dining Rooms, National Gallery, Trafalgar Sq., WC2 (tel. 020/7747-2525; www.thenationaldiningrooms.co.uk; Tube: Charing Cross), is run by British cooking champion, Oliver Peyton. Dine off English lamb, Cornish crab, or Scottish beef overlooking Trafalgar Square. Mains range from £11.50 to £21. It's open daily 10am to 5:30pm (Fridays until 8:30pm).
Rex Whistler Restaurant, Tate Britain, Millbank, SW1 (tel. 020/7887-8825; http://www.tate.org.uk; Tube: Pimlico), was the pioneer of museum dining, becoming famous for its superb wines and the Whistler mural, The Expedition in Pursuit of Rare Meats. Today's menu champions British cooking using fresh seasonal produce. Expect to pay around £29.95 for a two-course meal and £35.95 for a three-course meal. It's open daily noon to 5pm.
The Whitechapel Refectory, 77-82 Whitechapel High St., E1 (tel. 020/7522-7888; www.whitechapelgallery.org; Tube: Aldgate East). A cafe by day and a wine bar by night. Main courses cost around £8. It's open Tuesday to Sunday 10:30am to 6pm. After hours are Thursday to Saturday 6-11pm.
Dining Green on Eco-Friendly Fare
Eco-friendly dining has become a serious pastime in London. At such cafes, gastropubs, and small restaurants, much of the fresh produce served comes from near London. All ingredients are carefully sourced for sustainability and green farming practices. Diners in these places expect the waiters to know the provenance of the food -- don't be shy to ask.
Leading green restaurants include the Duke of Cambridge, 30 St. Peter's St., N1 (tel. 020/7359-3066; www.dukeorganic.co.uk; Tube: Angel) in Islington. The modern Brit menu is an all-organic extravaganza.
In Chelsea, Daylesford Organic, 44b Pimlico Rd., SW1 (tel. 020/7881-8060; www.daylesfordorganic.com; Tube: Sloane Sq.), specializes in seasonal produce, including vegetables from their own kitchen garden along with organic cakes, pastries, and breads.
The Waterhouse, 10 Orsman Rd., N1 (tel. 020/7033-0123; www.waterhouserestaurant.co.uk; Train: Haggerston), is tucked away behind apartment houses close to the Regent's Canal. It prides itself on its carbon-neutral credentials. Open for breakfast and lunch, dishes such as apple and parsnip soup and steak sandwich are great value at £4 to £7.50.
The Best Park Eateries
Wandering through London's parks on a warm summer day is one of the capital's great pleasures. Some have the added attraction of a good meal.
Inn the Park, St. James's Park, SW1 (tel. 020/7925-2985; www.innthepark.com; Tube: St. James's Park), has two parts. In summer, take a tray from the self-service area out to the terrace for some serious duck-watching. Or go for the seasonal British dishes in the restaurant. It's open Monday to Saturday 8am to 6pm and Sunday 9am to 5pm.
At Regen'ts Parl Cafe, Inner Circle, NW1 (tel. 020/7935-5729; http://www.benugo.com; Tube: Baker St. or Regent's Park), you can sit smelling the scent of Regent's Park's roses over a cup of coffee or light snacks such as chicken supreme. Meals range from £7.50 to £13 . It's open daily 8am to 5pm.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.