How and Where to Eat and Drink Your Way through London (with or without kids)

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Despite having lived in London for the past 5 years, I can honestly say, (even food-obsessed me) has still only scratched the service of the many amazing restaurants and eateries this city has to offer. Every year (hell, every month!) a new exciting place opens up and it is impossible to try all the fantastic food out there (especially now that I have a little one who doesn’t always let her mummy and daddy enjoy a leisurely 3 course meal).

The restaurants below are places I frequented a lot with husband, before we had a baby, but many have still remained accessible even with the little one in tow.

To make it easier, I have split the list using the following codes which will feature directly after each short blurb on the place, along with any stars it may have, and price points:

DN = date night (i.e. you can try to take your baby/ies here, but to truly experience the food and all the restaurant has to offer, ditch the baby/ies at home for a romantic night out).

FF = family-friendly (i.e. even if the baby/ies decide mid-meal to scream at the top of their lungs, chances of receiving death stares from waiters and/or other patrons are pretty slim).

In no specific order, here we go…

 

Kurobuta: Great Japanese restaurant owned by an Australian ex-Nobu chef, which has a very cool vibe and great food without the Nobu price tag. During the day, it is extremely relaxed and great to take baby/ies. At night, it gets a bit darker and funkier, so save a night time journey for a date night. I’ve only been to the Marble Arch branch, and not the one on King’s road, so I cannot vouch for what the one on King’s road is like, but the Marble Arch one has been great both with and without baby.

Good to know: DN and FF (depending on time of day), mid priced (unless you drink a lot of booze).

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Trishna: slightly upper class Indian (as in not just curries ) – this place is seriously good. Possibly, my favourite Indian restaurant (that I have tried) in London. Also has a Michelin Star and a newer second (slightly different) branch called Gymkhana (of which I also hear good things but have not had the fortune of trying yet). They do great lunch deals, and children are welcome during lunch only, and not at dinner. Prior to baby, we had only been at night, and it feels very romantic, but after baby, we went for a lunch and it was much more casual, not as busy, and the baby/pram was very welcome. The staff there are always very accommodating and food never disappoints.

Good to know: DN and FF (depending on time of day), 1 Michelin Star, mid-high priced (to clarify, it is high priced compared to your local Indian restaurant, but mid priced for a Michelin star restaurant).

 

Duck and Waffle: One of my favourite places to go for a leisurely breakfast/brunch. On weekends, early reservations are mostly all families so it is definitely a great place to go with baby/ies. On a clear day you get the most spectacular view of London, but to top it off, the food is also fantastic. Their whole roasted chicken with potatoes, mushrooms and truffles is one of my favourite dishes, and very easy to share. They also do some great desserts and drinks.

Good to know: DN and FF (depending on time of day), mid priced (unless you go crazy on cocktails).

 

Hawksmoor: fantastic steakhouse – they have quite a few branches now and some also do great seafood (if you are not a carnivore like me..) Their original location in Seven Dials is large and very family friendly. I have not been back since having baby, but when I did frequent before baby, there were always lots of kids and prams, and staff is very accommodating.

Good to know: DN and FF (depending on time of day), mid priced.

 

Le relais de venise: a famous French steak place (the original is in Paris where I first tried it and this is just as good). No menu, only sells steak frites, but the BEST steak frites – it’s all about the sauce here. Great value considering how much meat and fries you actually get (they give you two servings). It is not possible to book, so you do run the risk of having to wait in a line, which is fine without a kid, but if you have an impatient baby like me, go for opening time at lunch (or even early dinner) and nab one of the first tables. Tables are quite tight together, so no chance of a pram getting in there, but if you are ok for them to put your pram away and seat your baby in a highchair, it is pretty great. Mine had a great time eating up all the baguette.

Good to know: DN and FF (depending on time of day), mid priced.

 

Roka: the younger sister of Zuma (a really good and expensive Japanese place). Roka is not as expensive or exclusive as Zuma and I think it is actually better. They have a couple branches, but the one you want to hit is in Canary Wharf. Here they do a weekend brunch for £45 where it is all you can eat AND drink (yes, you read that right – unlimited alcohol!) Each time I have been, there have been many families – it is pretty big and spacious, so great for lugging a pram in and great for older kids as well.

Good to know: FF (DN if you go to any of the other branches – some of the others will accommodate baby/ies but they do give you a bit of stink eye depending on time of day), mid-high priced.

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Kitchen W8: a tiny little restaurant down on the south side of Hyde Park. This place has some ridiculously cheap lunch and early evening menu deals – for the quality of food, I am always in shock how cheap it ends up. Amazing and polished French food, with a great wine list of really different types of wines. During the day it is great with baby and family, and at night, the mood changes and is a great date venue.

Good to know: DN and FF (depending on time of day), 1 Michelin Star, mid-high priced.

 

Il Barretto: a slightly upmarket Italian restaurant, with great food and wine – they have a pizza oven as well and some of the best pizzas. During weekend lunch, the downstairs area is dominated by families. It is actually bigger than it looks from the outside and we have never had an issue getting our pram in. I actually prefer going during lunch – the staff get very frazzled at night when they get busy, but during lunch, they always seem a bit calmer and friendlier.

Good to know: FF, mid-high priced.

Fischers: A polished schnitzel place, that also has a great breakfast menu. We went many times in the early days after baby as it was one of the few places in Marylebone that was pram-friendly. The staff are always very accommodating with pram and there have always been quite a few families in there at the same time. Bathrooms have some freaky old photos but apart from that, a really lovely restaurant.

Good to know: FF, mid priced.

 

The Lockhart: casual restaurant that specialises in American staples such as Fried Chicken and Waffle. Great to go for a leisurely brunch – staff are all super friendly and food it great. I’ve never been at night – only during the day, and it has always been great and very pram-friendly.

Good to know: FF, low-mid priced.

 

Vinoteca: also has a few branches, but the only one we go to is on Seymour Place in Marylebone. Very casual relaxed vibe, great for lunch with baby/ies, very pram-friendly and also great for a low-key date night. Food is always fantastic without costing a bomb. Also has a great wine list.

Good to know: DN and FF (depending on time of day), mid priced.

 

Maximini: Chinese-Malaysian restaurant part-owned by shoe designer Jimmy Choo (we actually met him there and had a nice chat about the small province in Malaysia where he is from as my mother-in-law is from the same place!) Very authentic and great food. Family-friendly, and better service than your typical Chinese restaurant.

Good to know: FF, low priced.

 

Maroush Express: there are quite a few Maroush restaurants around (look around Edgware road and almost all the Lebanese restaurants there are owned by the Maroush group!) but this one is my personal favourite. Very no-frills, but fantastic food – it’s a bit tight in there so not the best place for a pram, but fold that sucker up and you can have a great cheap meal with the whole family.

Good to know: FF, low priced.

 

Hereford Road: a hidden gem of a restaurant, this place always has great British food that is always great value and amazing. Relatively pram-friendly (you will need to carry it down a few steps). Booths are great for families and service and food is impeccable. I always regret telling people about this place as I selfishly don’t want it to get too popular and busy, but it is probably one of my favourite casual restaurants and one of the very few restaurants I think truly deserves a Michelin star or some similar credit – it is THAT good and never disappoints.

Good to know: FF (can also be DN if you go at night), mid priced.

 

Royal China: go to the original Royal China on Baker Street (not Royal China Club) on a weekend for some of the best yumcha in London. Yes, it is a little more expensive than ones in Chinatown, but I personally think it has better quality dim sum and it is a huge expanse of a restaurant that is great to take baby/ies to (you can let them scream and no one can really hear except maybe the table next to you). Service is as expected in a Chinese restaurant (they will throw plates and cutlery onto the table) but it is always the same and never disappoints. They work on a number system, so if you don’t fancy waiting 30 minutes for a table, head there for opening time and you can nab a table pretty quickly.

Good to know: FF, low-mid priced.

 

Brew cafe: Being Australian, I cannot understand why it is so hard to get a good coffee in London!! In Sydney and Melbourne, pretty much every single cafe serves up a decent cup. Thankfully, there are quite a few cafes dotted around (usually owned by an Australian or New Zealander) that are reliable and Brew is no exception. Since having moved out to Wimbledon, this has been my go to for coffee, breakfast, lunch and brunch – the food is also great and it is so family friendly, I find myself going there several times a week. If you are ever out in Wimbledon, this is the place to go.

Good to know: FF, low-mid priced.

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Burger and Lobster: self-explanatory – you can only get burger or lobster and both are £20 (why some people choose a burger in this instance I will never understand). A bit of a London institution – a lot of people already know it and seems to be very popular with a lot of Chinese and Korean tourists (I am convinced there must have been a feature on it somewhere on a Korean and/or Chinese blog!) There is not avoiding those tourists in this place – they seem to dominate most of the branches, but it is still great value, fun and lobster is always cooked perfectly and delicious. The Soho branch is also very spacious, and we have been here a couple times with our massive pram and not had an issue. Also one of those places that has the constant buzz of people talking that no one seems to really hear the baby crying.

Good to know: FF, low-mid priced (drinks are not the cheapest and will take you into the mid-range. If you want to keep it low value with family, order just the food and tap water.)

 

Borough Market: great food market with a fantastic variety of food – this is something that is more for older kids as it does get packed and can be quite uncomfortable pushing a pram around. Unless you are going to pouch (ergobaby, baby bjorn etc) the little one, avoid this place until your kids are bigger.

Good to know: FF (but only for older kids), low priced.

 

Social Eating House: it’s the more casual version of Pollen Street Social (also featured below) and it has a much more relaxed cool vibe. Social eating house also has a Michelin star, but it doesn’t feel at all stuffy or pretentious, and has consistently great food and drinks. We have been here about 5 times and have never had a bad meal or experienced bad service. There is also a (sort of) ‘speakeasy’ bar upstairs to grab a drink before or after. One of my favourite date night spots. Also great for a night out with friends.

Good to know: DN, 1 Michelin Star, mid-high priced (depending on how much booze you drink.)

 

Bocca di Lupo: our fav Italian restaurant here – not like a typical Italian chain restaurant you see a lot of here in London but a little different, a little more adventurous. Food is very authentic, and it’s all about sharing plates (don’t be selfish and order something just for yourself as you will lose out in that situation!) Order a few plates and try a bit of everything. Restaurant is pretty small so you need to be prepared to book at least a few weeks in advance unless you want to eat at 10pm (not ideal with kids).

Good to know: DN, mid priced.

 

Ducksoup: This little restaurant deserves a lot more attention than it has as the food here is fantastic. Interesting dishes, all done really well. The food is very well-priced, but the booze will make your bill jump. It is a tiny little restaurant, and definitely not great for taking baby/ies, but a great choice for an intimate date night.

Good to know: DN, mid priced.

 

Dinner by Heston: Heston Blumenthal is one of the most famous chefs UK and it is a reputation well-deserved. Having been to both The Fat Duck and Dinner by Heston, I can honestly say, both restaurant experiences are well worth every penny. If you ever get the fortune to get a booking at The Fat Duck, it is one of those things to do before you die. It’s not just about the food but the whole experience is unlike anything I have had before. His London restaurant is a bit more polished and not as extravagant, but definitely still worth it. A worthy place for a date night, but they also do a great value lunch deal. I haven’t ever been with baby, but I would save this for one for a special occasion without the kids.

Good to know: DN, 2 Michelin stars, high priced.

 

Meat Liquor: truly fun for a night out for a dirty burger and a cocktail. It has a grunge-y New York type vibe, and the burgers are delicious, but be warned – you won’t want to eat a burger again for a few months. They are seriously heavy, but delicious. Not great for taking kids (although I have seen kids here during the day), they have a strict no kids policy after 6pm.

Good to know: DN, low priced.

 

Best places for coffee (because as mums/dads, who are we kidding? We all NEED a caffeine boost some/most days):

– Daisy Green: cute little Australian cafe with great coffees and lots of allergy conscious health food (i.e. Gluten free, dairy free, egg free etc).

  • Brew: mentioned in my restaurants list above, but mentioning again as they are really that good..
  • Borough Barista: tiny little cafe – difficult to get pram up the steps, but if you are with husband or friend, one person can run in to get the coffees. Great espressos.
  • Workshop: hidden in the back of St. Christopher’s Place, this cafe not only has great coffees, but they have the perfect size cup, and their staff are some of the friendliest baristas I have encountered (on many occasions, unless they are extremely busy, they always run out to open the door for the big bulky pram.)
  • Monocle Cafe: great espressos and pastries – if you can nab a little table outside, get a green tea cheesecake or cinnamon bun to have with the coffee. Heaven.
  • Nordic Bakery: famous for their cinnamon buns, but their coffee is also good.

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Bars (obviously all for without baby – if you ever decide to have a liquid date night)…

  • Purl bar: in an underground cellar kind of place – very funky with crazy cocktails using dry ice etc. but really good (always a risk of being a bit pretentious and over the top when they start whipping out the dry ice, but they do deliver). Opposite Trishna so we have in the past gotten a drink at Purl first and then gone to trishna for dinner.

Mark’s bar: one of my favourite cocktail bars in London – looks like an old-school gentleman’s parlour and serve some of     the best martinis I’ve had. Also do some great bar snacks…

  • The Blind Pig: the bar above Social eating house – you get into it via a door with a pig’s head on it. Get the cocktail called ‘Dill or no dill’ – very good!
  • Hawksmoor bar in Spitalfields:underneath the Hawksmoor in Spitalfields, this is cool if you want a more casual meal – awesome drinks and they also do a mean burger with kimchi.

-Liz Yow

Mama/foodie originally from Sydney, Australia.  Living deliciously in London.

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