Ihave tried to go to Barrafina, the ultra cool Spanish small plates no booking Soho restaurant, a few times now, with no success. Last time I tried, it must have been about 5:45 on a Wednesday and I was told to expect a wait of about an hour. And no, I couldn’t come back in an hour, if I wanted my place in the queue, I had to stay in the queue. (the countless masses would kill for my place in the queue, was heavily implied in the waiter’s tone and arched eyebrow)
I chose not to and if I sound bitter it’s mostly because I feel they were quite rude to me, though I am still planning on getting there one day. It’s on my list. I have an ever growing list of places I’d like to try and after a quick peruse of this list, a worrying trend becomes apparent, most of these have adopted this ‘no bookings’ policy. Which is all well and good, but sometimes I just want to have a specific time and a place, where I can eat some good food with no hassle. And so if you are looking for the latest pop up that only has 3 tables, and two dishes made from the produce locally grown in the owner’ back garden, then I would advice you to stop reading right now. However, if you are looking for a nice place where you could take your parents for a good meal in lovely surroundings, then please carry on.
My secret weapon when it comes to a family visit or a last minute dinner reservations is hotel restaurants. London is full of hotels I can’t afford, with restaurants that I can. These are restaurants you could never find if you didn’t know about, which means that hotel guests aside they are rarely heaving, making them extremely convenient for a last minute booking. The surroundings are often lavish and the food can vary from pretty decent to amazing. There are often good set meals and it’s worth checking bookatable.com or opentable for any additional deals.
This is top of my list, it’s a three rosette restaurant that deserves it. The dining room is very light and airy, the service impeccable and the food beautifully presented and delicious. We had a three course set lunch, which included an amuse bouche between each course, which was completely unexpected and a lovely touch, not to mention very tasty. The desserts are to die for. If you want to be surrounded by hustle and bustle, this is not the place for you, as when we started our lunch we were the only people there, but if you want to take your time and enjoy your food, I would very much recommend it. We were there for a good few hours and felt welcome the entire time. It was a lovely experience and though I have an aim to go to new places as much as possible, this is a restaurant I cannot wait to repeat.
Unlike the others on this list, the Brasserie Joel has modern even minimalist in decor and we were not the only diners there. It occupies a large space on the first floor of the Park Plaza, with a pleasantly high ceiling and round tables, nicely spaced apart. The service was excellent and the set menu included the Tuna Tartare starter, which was very good. They also offer a set lunch menu of exceptional value, that I have not yet tried, but it is on my before mentioned to do list.
This is located just off Oxford Street, offering some peace after a hard day’s shopping. It’s got good, hearty food, very generous portions at very affordable prices. If you are looking for even more affordability, there is a bookatable deal for steak or lobster burger with chips and half a bottle of wine for £16, which I have tried and tested and would do so again. But whatever you do, you’ve got to leave some space for dessert, because all else aside, I’d recommend this place on the strength of its desert alone. It’s got great spin on childhood classics like the jam rolly polly and toffee apple cumble and everything comes with lots of custard. Real nice comfort food.
I must have walked past Charring Cross station hundreds of times, not once looking up at the Charring Cross hotel. My brother found the Brasserie and yes, yet again that is where we took our parents. Trying to find the restaurant once you enter seems like an adventure and yet again it felt like we were the only guests, but the decor is lovely, the view from the terrace really very good and the food decent. After the craziness of the street below us, it felt like a retreat.