The very best restaurants in Mayfair, from Sketch to Sabor and Hide to Hakkasan

·21 min read
Beguiling beauty: the downstairs at Gymkhana  (Press handout)
Beguiling beauty: the downstairs at Gymkhana (Press handout)

London’s original May Fair took place in what is now Shepherd Market between 1686 and 1764, at which point the powers that be scrapped the annual shenanigans for becoming ever-more tawdry. Mayfair’s destiny instead was to be developed along the elegant Georgian lines of the garden squares still intact today, even if the mansions of the aristocracy that once lined Berkeley, Grosvenor and Hanover Squares have been replaced by art galleries, hedge funds, luxury car dealerships — and some of the priciest restaurants in the capital.

We’ve tried not to bang on below about how much it costs to eat out in 21st-century Mayfair; suffice to say that should you find yourself on the most expensive square of the Monopoly board, don’t be surprised to discover that main courses alone can cost more than an entire meal on the Old Kent Road. It can be obscene.

But while foodie bargains in Mayfair are not so much few and far between as virtually non-existent, the prospect of feeding some of the richest diners on the planet lures the most talented chefs in the world with access to the finest ingredients from around the globe.

So from three-Michelin-starred fine dining to chic Chinese and suave Indians, the freshest fish and the fanciest French, here are our favourite places to eat in the most exclusive corner of London. Pack your platinum credit card, pimp your ride to an Uber Lux and get ready to party with the one per cent at the best restaurants in Mayfair. Money never sleeps, but it does need to eat: here’s where to feed the greed.

Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill

 (Press handout)
(Press handout)

Richard Corrigan has two West End gaffs: the huntin’ and fishin’ wild-food specialist Corrigan’s Mayfair and this venerable fish restaurant, founded in 1916, which the Irish chef gave a new lease of life in 2005. Bentley’s better expresses Corrigan’s generous personality, even if the cost of fish these days means that prices don’t. Upstairs is a formal dining room, decked out with William Morris fabrics, for business lunches and celebratory suppers; the downstairs oyster bar is more fun, with a counter to watch London’s star shuckers work their way through 10,000 bivalves a week and dispense pearls of oyster wisdom (a squeeze of lemon and twist of black pepper is life-changing advice). Wherever you sit, expect luxey British seafood classics in which the produce shines: a shellfish cocktail with crab, lobster and brown shrimp as well as prawn; butter-bathed Dover sole; and, to really push the boat out, lobster Thermidor, almost as boozy as the knockout martinis served in the adjoining bar.

11-15 Swallow Street, W1B 4DG, bentleys.org

Sketch

 (Ed Dabney)
(Ed Dabney)

One could spend all day immersed in Sketch and still find something new. Things kick off at 9am with breakfast pastries in the Parlour; lunch might be a deeply savoury haddock and scallop soufflé with Colman’s Mustard beurre blanc in the ground-floor Gallery, overhauled every few years by a leading British artist; the current sunshine-yellow look comes courtesy of Yinka Shonibare and seeks to illuminate the influence of African tradition on European life. Hang around for afternoon tea before cocktails in the Glade, then a trip to the sci-fi pod-shaped loos and tripping the light fantastic up the art-lined stairs to the jewel-coloured Lecture Room and Library, an exceptional, extraordinary three-Michelin-starred dining room with just as many staff as diners and so much space between tables one might be being waited on in a private house. Expect stunningly presented treatments of seasonal produce served as a multi-dish interpretation of a single ingredient: haute cuisine as haute couture and a once-in-a-lifetime experience to save up for.

9 Conduit Street, W1S 2XG, sketch.london

Gymkhana

 (Press handout)
(Press handout)

The blueprint for every contemporary Indian in the capital, one is just as likely to see a celebrity as a City CEO dining on the next table at Gymkhana, whether in the colonial-themed ground-floor dining room (rattan booths, ceiling fans, sepia photos) or the cooler basement, which has the feel of a late-night lounge bar whatever the time of day. If it weren’t for the prices, the menu could be called crowd-pleasing, and the trick up the sleeves of the Sethi siblings who founded the restaurant has been to treat familiar Indian dishes with the refinement that comes from top-end ingredients and just enough innovation in the kitchen to make them taste creative not clichéd. Poppadoms come as spiced papads with a trio of tongue-tingling chutneys, supersized lamb chops have enough flesh on the bone to withstand a fiery marinade, the pastry-topped biryani is laced with wild muntjac while excellent veggie options include creamy-and-crunchy raj kachori chat: puri shells dolloped with yoghurt and chutney. Getting a table, alas, is likely to involve reserving months ahead; sister restaurants Trishna in Marylebone and Brigadiers in the City are easier to get into and serve similarly delicious cooking.

42 Albemarle Street, W1S 4JH, gymkhanalondon.com

LPM

 (Press handout)
(Press handout)

Just as W. Somerset Maugham described the Côte d’Azur as “a sunny place for shady people”, half the fun of spending time in this plutocrat-approved, Riviera-themed restaurant is wondering what one’s fellow diners do for a living to be able to afford to eat here. Most likely they are transiting through London to another business lunch at an LPM in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Miami or Riyadh, while dreaming of a year in Provence. The original LPM is La Petite Maison, a brasserie in the old town of Nice which has long since moved from foodie secret to being the sort of place where Prince Albert of Monaco eats when he is slumming it over the border. Still, the cooking — French food for people who don’t like creamy sauces and strange cuts of meat — is as much of an attraction as the eavesdropping, even if the high-protein, low-carb formula is effectively a Francophone spin on owner Arjun Waney’s other big hits Coya and Zuma. Expect scallop carpaccio, rack of lamb and crème brûlée, washed down by one of the best collections of rosé wine in London, knocked back at tightly packed tables where you’ll be rubbing shoulders (literally) with your neighbours. After all, as the restaurant’s motto goes: “tous célèbres ici”.

53-54 Brook’s Mews, W1K 4EG, lpmrestaurants.com

Hakkasan Mayfair

 (Press handout)
(Press handout)

London’s second Hakkasan is arguably better than the original, and not only because Bruton Street is a more fittingly luxurious address than a dodgy alleyway off Tottenham Court Road. The ground-floor lounge-cum-bar is a chic dim-sum spot for anyone who hates eating in basements in the daytime, while the dining room below is more intimate than at Hanway Place, with pools of shadow between the spotlit tables in a room divided by carved oriental screens, even if at times it feels hectically like eating in a nightclub. Anglo-Chinese classics such as prawn toast and sweet and sour pork are refined with superior ingredients, pork ribs and roast duck rendered fragrant with jasmine tea and black truffle, while desserts should on no account be missed: “chocolate caviar” involves a tin of cherry compote topped with “eggs” of chocolate mousse on a tray billowing dry ice. The staff, many of whom are model-grade good looking, have a reputation for frostiness, but on our most recent visit the service couldn’t have been more caring.

17 Bruton Street, W1J 6QB, hakkasan.com

Murano

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(Press handout)

Everyone loves Angela Hartnett, but behind the TV presenting, cookbooks and podcast with Nick Grimshaw is a chef who originally came to prominence as part of Gordon Ramsay’s team of lieutenants in the noughties and who won Murano’s first Michelin star in 2009. A serious chef she may be, but Murano occupies the casual luxe territory of loosened-up haute cuisine, not only in the dining room’s mood of relaxed professionalism (smiley but solicitous staff, well-spaced tables and comfy chairs) but food that is joyously Italian rather than being filtered through fine dining. Pasta is a highlight — silky herb tortellini with Swiss chard and goat’s curd, perhaps — while main courses such as turbot with Tahitian vanilla, white asparagus and pork crumb show just as much attention to the accompaniments as the star ingredient. Refreshingly, one can order anything from three (£85) to six (£130) courses, all with the bells and whistles of amuse-bouches, pre-desserts and petits fours.

20 Queen Street, W1J 5PP, muranolondon.com

Hide

 (Press handout)
(Press handout)

This hugely ambitious project from chef Ollie Dabbous is, as they say on reality TV, a triple threat. The basement is home to a bar overseen by Dabbous’ long-term cocktail collaborator Oskar Kinberg. One floor up is Hide Ground, a modern European brasserie open all day from full English breakfasts to suppers of barbecued octopus with white miso, moscatel grapes and lovage. But the real action takes place in Hide Above, a Michelin-starred dining room with sylvan views over Green Park that’s a showcase for Dabbous’ visually arresting cooking: the signature canapé involves house-made charcuterie wrapped around a quill of bone and feather, while the other must order is an eggshell filled with slow-cooked yolk, butter, mushrooms and cream and presented on a bed of hay. Hide is owned by the same people as Mayfair’s smartest off-licence, Hedonism Wines, and drinking is taken very seriously here. The best bit of all — well, sort of — there’s an iPhone charger concealed within each table, ensuring the entire seven-course tasting menu can be posted without one’s phone running out of juice.

85 Piccadilly, W1J 7NB, hide.co.uk

Bellamy’s

 (Sophie Ziegler)
(Sophie Ziegler)

A French brasserie with an upmarket English accent, Bellamy’s is the only London restaurant where the Queen has ever eaten: how’s that for a seal of approval? One might follow Her Maj and order oscietra caviar, but the joy of Bellamy’s is that the food is far more down to earth than the royal patronage suggests. The Queen followed her fish eggs with a smoked eel mousse; elsewhere are entrecôte with excellent chips and even better Béarnaise, and a chocolate cake made to the recipe of owner Gavin Rankin’s mother. Rankin calls Bellamy’s “a club without a sub” and it is probably the closest thing that Mayfair has to a local restaurant for local people (with bank balances to match). If you find the prices more Coutts than Co-op, there’s a two/three course lunch for £27.50/£33, frankly a bargain these days, while the oyster bar serves toasted sandwiches for a tenner in the day, before turning into a cocktail bar in the evening.

18 Bruton Place, W1J 6LY, bellamysrestaurant.co.uk

Park Chinois

 (Press handout)
(Press handout)

Created by Hakkasan founder Alan Yau, Park Chinois was rumoured to have cost £35m when it opened in 2015. It is, at least, easy to see where all the money went, from the heavy wooden doors like something from the Forbidden City to a malachite-topped bar, duck-shaped gold toilet taps and the laundry bill for the white-tie staff. The atmosphere is supposed to evoke Thirties Shanghai, though 21st-century Mayfair (particularly supercar-lined Berkeley Square) is the all-pervasive influence, where the expectation is that the roast duck will come with the option of caviar, the beef will be wagyu and the pork iberico. Still, the international super-rich and Londoners out on the razz are at least in for a treat thanks to classic dim sum such as sweet scampi shumai, egg noodles prepared with native lobster or sweet and sour pork reimagined as organic loin with caramelised pineapple and heritage tomato. Live music is another nod to Jazz Age clubs, with dinner in the separate Club Chinois accompanied by live cabaret until 2am.

17 Berkeley Street, W1J 8EA, parkchinois.com

Hélène Darroze at The Connaught

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(Press handout)

Three-Michelin-starred chef Hélène Darroze is such an icon of Gallic gastronomy that she has been immortalised not only as the character of Colette in the film Ratatouille but in plastic-fantastic form as a Barbie doll to encourage girls to follow the doll’s motto of “you can be anything”. The real-life Darroze is a softly spoken woman who lets her food do the talking, whether it’s exec chef Marco Zampese shaking the pans or Darroze herself on one of her fortnightly trips to London. A seven-course, seasonally changing tasting menu (£195) turns produce from long-term British and French suppliers (Cornish lobster, Landais asparagus) into lightened-up haute cuisine, often with a distinct note of spice: that lobster comes with tandoori spices, carrot, citrus and coriander, for instance. The best supplier of all, however, is Darroze family Armagnac, poured over a baba or wheeled over on a trolley. The wood-panelled room within The Connaught hotel is as gentle as Darroze herself, all soft pink and smooth velvet, while private dining at either the chef’s table or in the wine cellar is the most cossetting of corporate entertainment.

Carlos Place, W1K 2AL, the-connaught.co.uk

Pollen Street Social

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(Press handout)

Jason Atherton’s Social empire now extends to 15 restaurants in seven countries but here in Mayfair is where it all started. Pollen Street genuinely is social, with a relaxed lounge bar that is a drinking destination in its own right and a dining room that buzzes with the happy hum of contented customers lapping up the energy and invention from the kitchen. There is, as one would expect of a chef of Atherton’s calibre, a nine-course tasting menu (£165) with all the foodie folderol of canapés and petits fours (and also available in vegetarian and vegan formats) but there’s also a four-course à la carte (£130) for something less intensive and a three-course set lunch (£75) which provides an introductory taster of Atherton’s melding of British ingredients with global fine-dining technique (Atherton was the first Brit to complete a stage at molecular gastronomy legend elBulli in Spain). Cornish monkfish washed in saké and accompanied with Provençal citrus, pickled cucumber and fennel, smoked bone dashi and coriander is a typically intricate assembly but for all the complexity, Atherton’s flavours are always approachable. Wine flights will push the bill even higher, though a single glass of the house Chenin Blanc from the Loire (£11.50) is something to savour.

8-10 Pollen Street, W1S 1NQ, pollenstreetsocial.com

Sabor

 (Press handout)
(Press handout)

Nieves Barragán Mohacho’s Sabor takes what everyone loved from her time as the executive chef of Barrafina — a ground-floor counter serving accomplished evolutions of the tapas classics — and offers it alongside a first-floor dining room to remind Londoners that Spanish people don’t just eat small plates. The cooking of Galicia and Castile is the focus upstairs, with dishes cooked in a wood-fired “asador” (Castile) or copper pans (Galicia), whether various sizes of suckling pig from Segovia, Burgos black pudding mixed with rice or seafood specialities of monkfish tempura, grilled squid and paprika-spiked octopus. Inevitably, however, it’s the ground-floor counter surrounding an open kitchen that feels like the heart of the action. Croquetas come stuffed with piquillo peppers or Manchego cheese, tortilla is laced with txistorra sausage, there are milk-fed lamb sweetbreads with capers and, to finish, bombas de chocolate, a trio of doughnuts exploding with cocoa and coffee. A dozen sherries and cavas by the glass kick off an impressive all-Spanish wine list.

35-37 Heddon Street, W1B 4BR, saborrestaurants.co.uk

Scott’s

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(Press handout)

Not for nothing is Richard Caring known as the king of Mayfair, with a West End restaurant empire on which the sun never sets, from brunch at 34 Mayfair to lunch at the new Ivy Asia and late-night partying at Sexy Fish. Scott’s, however, is the jewel in Caring’s crown, not only because it was the first restaurant that he added to Caprice Holdings when he bought the owner of The Ivy in 2005, but because there is almost no restaurant occasion to which the answer isn’t “Scott’s”. Solo supper? Try a dozen oysters (with or without a glass of house Henriot) at the counter. Seafood and starspotting? Order Dover sole on the terrace and, even if one of your neighbouring diners isn’t a celebrity, sooner or later a famous face will stroll by on Mount Street (most likely en route to... Scott’s). Even meat eaters are catered to with steak and chops, though the glittering altar of crustacea and crushed ice that greets visitors to the clubby dining room indicates that fish should be at the forefront of any meal here. Pretty much the only occasion for which Scott’s does fall short, in fact, is for a pre-dinner cocktail — and for that there is The Connaught Bar a few doors down.

20 Mount Street, W1K 2HE, scotts-restaurant.com

The Grill at The Dorchester

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(Press handout)

Very much infra dig for smart foodies for most of the 21st century, the arrival of fresh-faced young chef Tom Booton has made this famous hotel dining room essential again since his arrival in 2019. British grill room classics are given a contemporary twist, so that beef tartare comes seasoned with a layer of oxcheek jelly, a prawn Scotch egg has a warm tartare sauce for dipping and lobster Thermidor is reinvented as a Cheddar tart topped with a fleshy roasted claw with a sauce of seafood bisque — though for the ultimate indulgence, order a side dish of pommes boulangère, served in a copper pot with sticky layers of caramelised onion. With its love for all that glisters, the Dorchester will never be cool but Booton has made it contemporary, not least with puddings whipped up at a separate dessert bar and a cocktail bar to linger at after the final slurp of strawberry and clotted cream soft-serve. Prices, too, are bang up to date: three/four courses for £80/£90, including on the separate vegetarian menu.

53 Park Lane, W1K 1QA, dorchestercollection.com

Veeraswamy

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(Press handout)

The same age as the Queen (and refurbed last year to celebrate its 95th birthday), London’s oldest Indian restaurant has a pukka pedigree, opened by an Indian princess in 1926 and now in the hands of MW Eat, the company behind Chutney Mary and Amaya. A tourist-friendly position overlooking Regent Street makes Veeraswamy more approachable than its St James’s and Belgravia siblings, with couples on a posh evening up west as likely to be sitting on the next table as Indian family reunions and City boys drinking Beavertown Pale Ale (or bonus-blowing fine wines). Spot-on spicing and expert timing result in the likes of sweet-fleshed wild tiger prawns in a coriander, chilli and mint marinade, veggie options such as raj kachori (wheat puri filled with vegetables and topped with yoghurt, chutney and pomegranate seeds) are equally diverting, while the signature dish of lamb shank encased in flaky pastry involves a jug of bone marrow sauce poured over meat cooked for six hours. Too full for pudding? Order a chocolate martini instead.

99 Regent Street (entrance on Swallow Street), W1B 4RS, veeraswamy.com

Le Gavroche

 (Jodie Hinds)
(Jodie Hinds)

It might be titled for a street urchin in Les Mis but just saying the name of this legendary restaurant out loud fills the mouth with a world of sensuous luxury. A must-visit for anyone who prefers their cuisine classique not nouvelle, Le Gavroche was founded by brothers Albert and Michel Roux in 1967 and Albert’s son Michel Jr has run the place since 1981 as a sort of compendium of clichés of French haute cuisine all the more enjoyable for being almost extinct these days. The signature starter of soufflé Suissesse is an almost-omelette of Gruyère and cream or there is butter-poached lobster tail with grilled asparagus and lobster jus for something marginally lighter, ahead of lamb cutlets with courgettes, stuffed courgette flower, black garlic and jamb jus, a fabulous French cheese board and — pourquoi pas? — another soufflé to finish (passion fruit with white chocolate ice cream, perhaps). For all its richness, the cooking is surprisingly simple, though everything else here (trolleys, decanters, cloches) involves an elaborate performance that just about earns its money.

43 Upper Brook Street, W1K 7QR, le-gavroche.co.uk

Mimi Mei Fair

 (Steven Joyce)
(Steven Joyce)

Samyukta Nair is emerging as a Mayfair force to be reckoned with, a restaurateur with Jamavar and Bombay Bustle already to her name and both a Mediterranean bistro with Claude Bosi of Bibendum fame and a sushi-and-robata Japanese in the works. Mimi Mei Fair opened in autumn 2021 as one of the prettiest London launches of some time, with a suite of first-floor salons decked out in duck-egg blue panelling, sugared-almond armchairs and hand-painted screens; the ground-floor booths aren’t quite as salubrious, though as “mi mi” means “secret” in Mandarin, are a good place to know for off-radar assignations. The emphasis on visuals ensures that the food looks as good as the surroundings, whether glossy baked wagyu puffs, langoustine wrapped in a golden spiral of angel hair pasta, pastel-coloured dim sum baskets stacked like boxes of Charbonel et Walker chocolates, or a tower of deeply flavoured dong po pork belly arranged in an inky pool of soy. High prices (especially for wine) are matched by the high quality not only in the kitchen but from super-professional staff.

55 Curzon Street, W1J 8PG, mimimeifair.com

The Guinea Grill

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(Press handout)

Every area needs a local pub and Mayfair is no exception. Even if you’re more likely to find traders than tradies at The Guinea, it’s still one of the few places in Mayfair open to everyone as long as they’ve got the price of a pint of Young’s in their pocket (bar snacks of half a dozen oysters, however, cost rather more). There’s been an inn on this site since 1423; the adjoining grill room, opened in 1952, is equally redolent of another century, and though the linen is spotless and the staff suited and booted, the cooking, thankfully, has moved on in quality and portion size since the final years of wartime rationing. Dry-aged British steaks come with side orders of lamb cutlets and kidneys or there’s a butcher’s counter of a full mixed grill for two to heroically share; prize-winning pies, topped with a suet-pastry lid and encased in a frilly ruff that would not have disgraced the neck of Elizabeth I, are another speciality, while the pub is home to the annual Scotch Egg Challenge, raising the bar for bar snacks with creations such as this year’s winner, filled with foie gras and white truffle and wrapped with gold leaf (what else would you expect in Mayfair?) It remains to be seen whether quality can be maintained since landlord Oisin Rogers has moved on to other projects.

30 Bruton Place, W1J 6NL, theguinea.co.uk

Le Comptoir Robuchon

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(Press handout)

This continuation of the legacy of the late Joël Robuchon, who was the world’s most Michelin-starred chef when he died in 2018, has the chef’s initials stamped on everything from bread to puddings: never has one’s lunch been such an extension of luxury branding. One side of the room is taken up by a long marble bar and equally long open kitchen and chef’s counter, the other is lined with velvet-upholstered banquettes and, wherever one sits, strategically angled mirrors allow for brilliant people-watching of the Mayfair beau monde. Foie gras comes as smooth-as-silk pressed terrine or seared and placed atop a burger, caviar is used as a topping for wagyu beef bar snacks and cavatelli pasta tossed with lemon sauce, while elsewhere is a veal chop for two to share, Dover sole meunière and rum baba at prices as eye-watering as the cooking is mouthwatering. A two/three course lunch for £48/£60, while not exactly a bargain, has decent choice but is less luxey than the à la carte; for Robuchon on the cheap, grab a salad or sandwich from Le Deli Robuchon to eat in Green Park.

6 Clarges Street, W1J 8AE, robuchonlondon.co.uk

Langan’s Brasserie

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(Press handout)

The fact that Langan’s attracted 10,000 bookings for its first fortnight of re-opening demonstrates the fondness with which this historic restaurant is held by London restaurant-goers, whether the first generation of customers from the mid-1970s to their millennial offspring who are now the ones paying the bill. Langan’s was founded by Peter Langan and Sir Michael Caine in 1976 and re-opened by Mayfair club operator Graziano Arricale in 2021 in a swirl of marble and Murano glass; the handsome half-Italian is as attractive an advert as any for the good-time glamour of Langan’s, where the quality of food plays second fiddle to fun. Langan’s classics of fish pie, bangers and mash and spinach soufflé catch the retro mood; the new menu — Dover sole, daube of beef — could hardly be called cutting edge, though at least vegetarians get some thoughtful things like poached white asparagus and spiced roast cauliflower which would have been unthinkable in the 1970s. Upstairs is an invitation-only bar and club open until 3am; wear your smartest clobber to get a tap on the shoulder.

Stratton Street, W1J 8LB, langansbrasserie.com