Our newest travel expert and contributor, Imogen Reed, lives in Lovely London, so it was only benefitting she fill us in on the hottest place to grab some local grub!
With the Olympics a matter of just a few days away, all eyes are on London. The UK’s capital city has been hard at work for over seven years preparing for the Games. With an estimated audience of one billion across the globe, the next six weeks are going to be crucial for London’s entertainment scene.
There will never be a better time to visit London. The buzz throughout the city right now is infectious, but for visitors, finding the city’s coolest places to eat is a daunting task, not least because of the capital city’s sheer size. London has a population of approximately 7.5 million people and boasts over 5,500 restaurants. How do you know where to start on that search for the ultimate place to eat? There are also many restaurant guides, such as Time Out and Top Table. London features many of the world’s best restaurants and you are sure to find one that takes your fancy, whatever food you prefer.
However, a visit to one of these few Diva-licious selections offer some of the most unusual — or just damn cool — places in the metropolis city, and are sure to add an extra element to both your meal and your entire trip to London.
Dans Le Noir
Although you are most probably expecting to see many exciting sights during your trip to London, one place where you won’t see anything is conceptual restaurant, Dans Le Noir. Upon arrival at the Clerkenwell attraction, guests are led into the main dining area — where they eat in pitch-black darkness. The aim of the restaurant is to enlighten our other senses and to heighten the taste experience. The establishment employs visually impaired staff and helps to raise money for charities that help the blind.
Shaka Zulu, Camden
When visiting London, be sure to take a wander over to Camden. The district’s infamous market and lock, complete with plenty of quirky canal-side bars and restaurants, make Camden a real favorite among locals and tourists alike. A great new place in Camden Lock is Shaka Zulu (pictured above). The huge South African-themed restaurant serves a delicious menu, including zebra, crocodile and a range of curries, among jaw-dropping surroundings consisting of elaborate wood carvings and gold pillars. On a Friday or Saturday night, guests may even be greeted by a tribe of “dancing zebras!”
Although the food and drink prices are considered very expensive (around $217 per head), Sketch is a much talked about and unusual dining experience that is well worth a visit if you feel like treating yourself. More akin to an art gallery than a restaurant, the eatery boasts some of the most outlandish and quirky decor in the capital. Launched by renowned French chef, Pierre Gagnaire, and Momo-owner Mourad Mazouz, Sketch is situated in a huge 18th-century town house near to trendy and fashionable Soho and Piccadilly Circus. Divided into two parts — the Library and the Lecture Room — the restaurant features a mix of traditional and contemporary art pieces, making a visit to Sketch more of an “experience” rather than just a meal out. Its menu is wonderfully over-the-top, frequently referred to as a “gastronomic playground” by many of London’s restaurant critics. A visit to Sketch is a must for diners that are really after the wow factor.
Oxo Tower Restaurant
Located at the top of the famous Oxo Tower, this restaurant offers unrivalled views of London’s skyline. Guests can enjoy a spectacularly traditional British fine dining experience, while also looking out over the River Thames and across to the city’s famous St. Paul’s Cathedral. The restaurant also boasts an impressive list of over 800 wines sourced from all over the world. For those not suffering from the effects of vertigo, there is also a beautiful terrace that offers a relaxed al-fresco dining experience, and further uninterrupted views of London’s rooftops. The Oxo Tower restaurant also features a separate pan-Asian restaurant that offers a more casual dining experience for lunch times.
For those that wish to see London in real style, Bateaux London is the capital’s leading river cruise dining experience. Guests on board the stunning boat can enjoy a selection of fresh food prepared in the boat’s kitchen, while absorbing riverside views of London’s many famous attractions. Diners sail past landmarks such as the Houses of Parliament, London Eye and Tower Bridge, while soaking up the sophisticated atmosphere on board by listening to the calming sounds of the ship’s Grand Piano.