After a mediocre spring, summer is finally here. Just open up your weather app: a clean slate of golden suns – is there a more satisfying sight? So make the most of it with our round-up of the best outdoor dining spots in London:
A short walk from Oxford Street and Soho, The Grafton Arms is a rustic gastropub with two secret weapons up its sleeve: a charming roof-terrace and a delicious pan-Asian menu covering every base from healthy to decadent. Opt for crisp gyoza or refreshing laksa soup, or brave the spicy Szechuan tofu – all washed down with a pretty decent wine-list. Perfect for that post-shopping recharge. And the stylish parasol-cover means you won’t be caught short if the rain returns.
Nestled in the heart of well-heeled St James, The Stafford is a private oasis tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the city – where better for a spot of alfresco dining? There’s a seasonal BBQ menu throughout the year, while the American Bar offers Mediterranean-inspired dishes that function as a light bite or a decadent feast shared with friends. Watch the world go-by with an elegant cocktail on the secluded terrace, or come back after dark for a late-night brandy and fine cigar. High-living as its finest.
When it comes to Little Venice – London’s refreshingly tourist-free canal district – not many establishments get you closer to the water than laid-back canal-side restaurant The Summerhouse. Offering everything from grilled swordfish to rock lobster, it’s a must visit for anyone who likes their seafood. Although fish-phobic types needn’t stay away: there’s an inspired mix of meat and vegetarian dishes too. Indulge at your leisure, waving to the passing barges, and then walk it off with a leisurely stroll to Regent’s Park. Lovely.
Situated on top of a Novotel in Canary Wharf (two things that don’t exactly scream elegance), Bōkan is one of London’s underrated gems. Beginning on the thirty-seventh floor, it offers classy dining and cocktails at a much better price than the better-known roof-top restaurants – perfect for any visitors looking to see London from above without breaking the bank. The outdoor terrace on floor 39, which hosts Sunday jazz sessions, is currently home to a Hendrick’s Gin pop-up bar. Make the most of the weather by relaxing on their cushioned day-beds. Perfect for winding down the weekend.
Few parts of the capital have undergone as radical a makeover as Kings Cross: once the preserve of down-and-outs, Granary Square has been transformed into a hub of stylish restaurants, dining terraces and artisan street-food. The Lighterman is one of the highlights: a refreshingly unpretentious gastropub with a sprawling canal-side terrace. ‘How unpretentious?’, you ask. Well, their website says they’re open for ‘all-day drinking’ – a decadent offer if ever I heard one. Soak it up with a Sunday Roast and a splash of Eton Mess.
Another one from Fitzrovia: the new Jurema Terrace at the Mandrake Hotel offers alfresco dining from lunch to dinner. With its South American snack menu, it’s perfect for ushering in the evening: try the seabass, avocado and raspberry ceviche; the black bean and sesame tacos; or nibble on the courgette flower tostadas with pickled jalapeno. Even the cocktails here have a kick. I’m curious about The Jalapeno, which blends tequila, its namesake pepper, and a sprinkling of chili salt. Two of those and the cheque please!
If views are your thing, why not go the whole hog with London’s highest public garden? The Sky Garden – one of the most ambitious public spaces in London – offers a 360-degree view across the financial City (and beyond), with open-air terraces which need to be seen to be believed. With expertly-curated gardens, you’re guaranteed to see colours and blossom all year around – although you’d best book now if you’re thinking about Valentine’s Day. A selection of restaurants and bars – on levels 35 to 37 – means there should be something here for everyone.