Best London Outdoor Restaurants | olivemagazine

Start with snacks of springy Coombeshead sourdough and tangy kefir cultured butter, salumi and cheese plates before moving on to light and bright starters – of which the star of the show is the hot tongue bun, a golden parcel of tender, rich folds of meat with anchovy mayo, tangy hits of pickles and blackcurrant mostarda. Classic mains, including tender, well-made chicken leg ballotine, crisp, bronzed potato terrine and a meaty jus gras sauce are deftly executed, and the kitchen has a lovely way with vegetables – particularly in a dish of Cornish Earlies potatoes, creamy and almost fudgy in consistency, served with broad beans, seaweed and lovage. Wash it all down with a wine from Trivet’s 450-plus collection, or delicious non-alcs including zingy carrot beer.

Photograph by Ozlem Dinc

Photograph by Ozlem Dinc

Kapara, Soho

Channelling Tel Aviv, this vivacious Soho complex mixes music, food and cocktails, the fun spilling out onto a large covered, heated terrace. Chef Eran Tibi’s creative food revels in theatrical presentation and playful dish names. Dessert ‘gramp’s cigar’ very much looks like it, while deep-fried paprika marinated chicken thighs, with orange harissa kimchi and wild garlic mayo, are subtitled ‘crispy crunchy bums’. Core plates from £11;

A range of Tel-Aviv inspired plates at Kapara in Soho

Dinings SW3, Knightsbridge

Shaded by an ancient oak, the cute courtyard behind this west London mews offers a serene escape. Chef Masaki Sugisaki’s elevated fish dishes, sushi and sashimi are equally restorative. Plates from £6.50; larger dishes from around £16.50;

Shaded by an ancient oak, the cute courtyard at Dinings SW3

Circolo Popolare, Fitzrovia

With its extravagant décor, Neapolitan-style pizza and fresh pastas (including a carbonara served in a hollowed- out pecorino wheel), Circolo feels like a portal to Italy. Its leafy terrace, like a courtyard you might stumble across in Sicily or Rome, continues that vibe. Mains from £13.50;

Circolo Popolare's leafy terrace

Bentley’s, Piccadilly Circus

Richard Corrigan’s classic, AKA the ‘grand dame of Swallow Street’, has been serving oysters, lobster bisque and dover sole from starched white linen since 1916. Its year-round terrace is especially appealing in the city sunshine. Mains from £29;

Oysters served at Bentleys in London

Toklas, Strand

Large, peaceful, plant- festooned terrace above the Strand, serving – example plate: dover sole with courgette trifolati, marjoram and Amalfi lemon – some of London’s best Italian food. Larger plates from £19;

Tokla's large, peaceful, plant- festooned terrace above the Strand

Tavolino, London Bridge

Tavolino is a relaxed, modern Italian with a killer riverside view and a crowd-pleasing menu. On the overcast, drizzly afternoon we visited the buzzy outdoor terrace was packed (inside there is a two-floor space with the same sweeping views across Tower Bridge to The Tower itself). The menu follows the classic Italian model of antipasti, pasta, secondi and dolci. There is also a short pizza menu and daily chef specials.

An antipasti of crab on bitter endive with ricotta is crunchy, creamy and sweet, with a generous amount of white crab and a nutty pistachio dressing. Burrata comes with a slick of basil oil and a chunky sweet-sour caponata of olives, courgette, celery and pine nuts to cut through the richness of the cheese. Fresh tagliatelle has a lovely al dente bounce and comes tossed with a spicy slow-cooked pork and ’nduja ragu – it’s a deeply comforting hug of a dish. Delicately cooked nuggets of saffron-glazed monkfish are served with tiny gnochetti in a brothy fennel-spiked sauce and little zingy pops of sea herbs. We finish with an amaretto panna cotta – rich and fudgy with little zesty segments of torched mandarin and a quirky ‘liquid dessert’ tiramisu – a heady cocktail of coffee liqueur, vodka, cream and chocolate.

An outdoor table at Tavolino with a view of London Bridge

ACME Fire Cult, Dalston

Andrew Clarke and Daniel Watkins put the spotlight on vegetables in their live-fire joint beneath a contemporary canopy outside Dalston’s 40FT Brewery. Start by devouring umami-rich slices of marmite Ararat flatbread, blanketed in pecorino cheese. Vegetarian highlights include coal-roast leeks, that fall apart onto pistachio romesco, huge, herb-dressed cuore del vesuvio tomatoes on a bed of vibrant green Goddess sauce, and cauliflower slathered in spiced butter and served with umbrian lentils and pickled jalapeños. Pair with a meat sharing dishes, such as the doorstop of succulent smoked pork collar, charred at the edges into a blackened knobbly crust, served with charred onions and mustard sauce. Finish with rich hazelnut chocolate ganache topped with hazelnuts and beer molasses. Beer by-products feature in ferments and hot sauces, and 10 beers are available on tap, including a lager brewed with ancho chillies.

Two men cooking vegetables on an open grill

Fiume, Battersea

Francesco Mazzei’s contemporary Italian restaurant boasts a large terrace by The Thames, with dramatic views of iconic Battersea Power Station. Whisk yourself away to southern Italy with summery Malfy Gin cocktails, including the delicate, martini-style Essenza Di Bergamotto, laced with Italicus and bergamot peel, or a refreshing, citrusy take on a spritz using Malfy Rosa grapefruit gin. Pair with inventive cicchetti, such as Sicilian red prawn carpaccio and grilled calamari with watercress pesto, chilli jam and Sicilian lime. Mains include hearty Welsh lamb ragu on generous folds of tagliatelle, and round courgettes stuffed with seasonal veg.

A table laid with Italian snacks at Fiume summer terrace

Ombra, Hackney

This ramshackle restaurant perched above Regent’s Canal in Hackney is a riot of pop art posters, bottles of low-intervention wine and cookbooks, with a hatch behind the bar where Mitshel Ibrahim and his chefs pass out Italian dishes. On a sunny day, sit at contemporary wooden tables on the sun-soaked terrace and sip on a bitterly refreshing Cynar spritz or a zingy, thirst-quenching non-alcoholic aperitif. Start with delicate, ricotta-filled tempura courgette flowers and puffed gnocco fritto pillows topped with peppered wild boar mortadella. Homemade pasta comes in all shapes and sizes, including thick tonnarelli laces that cling to spicy ‘nduja and tubes of rigatoni to soak up vibrant pea and mint sauce. For dessert, the chocolate cream-filled choux buns are the perfect size for a satisfying sweet hit.

A bowl of pasta and an orange spritz at Ombra Hackney

Hicce, King’s Cross

Hicce’s large, parasol-covered terrace brings a touch of the Mediterranean to Coal Drops Yard. There are planters to shelter from the elements, and blankets and cushions to keep you warm. A large outdoor bar boasts a dramatic backdrop of Victorian brick arches, from which cocktails are shaken using artisan spirits and small-batch brews and wines are poured. Order the Hicce cocktail with refreshing sake, elderflower and yuzu notes, or a punchy, saffron-infused ‘flogroni’, poured dramatically from a chunky glass bottle. Food is all about grazing – start with a DIY appetiser board of duck rillettes, cured salmon slices with wasabi and giant couscous with green harissa, alongside jars of homemade pickles with squidgy beer bread. Move on to more substantial dishes such as crisp tempura paneer on a salad of raw cauliflower, apple and raisins, or bavette steak on a bright bed of multicoloured tomatoes, popping peas and anchovies. Time your visit with the sunset to watch the sky turn orange and purple behind the canalside Victorian gas holders-turned-luxury

People eating outdoors at Hicce

Skylight Canalside, Tobacco Dock

Skylight Canalside, Tobacco Dock’s newest sister spot to the Skylight roof terrace, is filled with booming music, food trucks and has a contagiously fun atmosphere – think a beer garden with benches and parasols but with the added bonus of a cool street food market. KERB is at the forefront of this operation, and lives up to its name as a ‘street food pioneer’. The two food trucks that are currently available, Fundi Pizza and Tongue ‘N Cheek, boast an array of classics with a twist, like chunky bavette steak, crispy rosemary fries and smoky mayo and an honorary mention to the ‘nduja pizza, which has a soft golden crust, loaded with stringy cheese and pieces of peppery ‘nduja – a salty spicy dream. If you’re looking for killer street food and a lively atmosphere, all with a backdrop of a canal and picturesque ‘pirate ships’, this is the place for you.

A plate of chips topped with meat

The Pilgrm, Paddington

This boutique hotel on a pretty Victorian terraced street in Paddington has a hidden secret at the top of its original mahogany staircase… A retro-chic lounge, scattered with coral and olive velvet chairs and marble tables, is the perfect hideaway for brunch or date-night cocktails. Doors open onto a cosy terrace, where you can sit under blankets with a hot chocolate or eggnog and enjoy the bustle of Paddington from a distance. Tuck into brioche brunch baps, including thick-cut bacon with house-made ketchup and smashed avocado with feta and olive salsa. Don’t forget to peruse the grocery store-cum-coffee shop on your way out, stocked with Workshop Coffee, fig jam, Cretan woodland honey and more.

A brunch set up with a full english and an avocado on toast plate

CRATE Brewery, Hackney Wick

There are few more lovely places to spend an afternoon than on the canal outside CRATE’s tap room in Hackney. Each week there’s a selection of guest bottles from a fruity brown ale to a dark Indian pale ale as well as regular casks and kegs of zingy lemon gose, velvety Crate stout and a crisp Crate cider. They do great pizza, too, such as sage and truffle, middle eastern lamb and spicy salami.
Click here to read more about the pizza at CRATE

Crate Brewery - Courgete and Feta

Vinegar Yard, London Bridge

From the folks behind London Bridge’s popular foodie destination Flat Iron Square, this amalgamation of drinking terraces, bars and street-food trucks is a great ‘al fresco’ hangout. Choose an Atlantic IPA from the bar that shares a space with artist Joe Rush’s workshop (check out his installations made from scrap metal scattered around the space), or order a glass of fizz from the pastel-pink prosecco van.

Take your drink of choice to the covered grassy area of benches and tuck into street food from Baba G’s (chicken tikka burgers, loaded masala fries and poppadom nachos slathered in Indian salsa and fresh mint raita), Up in My Grill (perfectly pink flame-grilled bavette or picanha steak on beef dripping fries with chimichurri) or Nanny Bill’s (burgers and croquettes galore).

A terrace of picnic tables covered with tipi awning and fairy lights

The Waterway, Little Venice

This large canal-side terrace is an ideal spot for alfresco eating and drinking. The large dining deck is well-equipped with huge parasols and patio heaters so you can sit out until late at night all year round. Huge goblets of gin are spruced up in perfect serves – Plymouth gin comes with refreshing lemon tonic, grapefruit peel and a stalk of lemongrass – or stick to one of the many wines or craft beers. Seared tuna fillet is perfectly pink with a tomato salsa, red peppers and artichoke, half rotisserie corn-fed chicken comes with French fries and slaw, and there are plenty of burgers to choose from, including the super deluxe beef burger with foie gras, crisp bacon and tomato

Westerns Laundry, Holloway

A residential road in Drayton Park might not seem the obvious choice for a restaurant with a view, but come summer Westerns Laundry (from the team behind north London’s Jolene and Primeur) outdoor area is the perfect spot to settle down with punchy negronis and bowls of olives among the olive trees. Long wooden benches come strewn with blankets, while trees and lush greenery add a sense of calm. Floor-to-ceiling doors draw back, so, even those sat indoors have natural light and warmth. Small plates and seafood are the focus on the daily changing menu, so expect dishes such as salted sardines, turbot, pickled mussels, baked cuttlefish fideo pasta and crispy ray wing with aioli.

White washed walls with long sharing tables. Vases of flowers are sat on the tables

Four Hundred Rabbits, Brockwell Lido

After 30 lengths, plot up poolside for gelato, negronis and 72-hour proved sourdough pizzas topped with pickled chilies, Brindisa chorizo and more.

Bob’s Lobster, National Theatre

Bob’s lobster rolls and crayfish croquettes are now available at the National Theatre’s Terrace restaurant.

London’s South Bank at Bob’s Lobster at the National Theatre

Cellar, Hammersmith

Co-creator of veg-centric Dalston BBQ joint, Acme Fire Cult, and menu developer at Hammersmith’s Cellar, Andrew Clarke is in demand. The chef’s creative all-day menu for Cellar and its 60-seat terrace includes fried cod cheeks with harissa mayo and celeriac schnitzel with cavolo nero, mushrooms and wild garlic butter.

Yauatcha City, Broadgate Circle

With rosé brand Whispering Angel, the dim sum experts have created a floral terrace. Insta gold!

Blueprint Café, Tower Bridge

Blueprint Café opened in 1992 as part of the now relocated Design Museum. It’s something of a veteran of London’s modern British restaurant scene. Overlooking the Thames in a former banana warehouse, this bright and airy riverside restaurant has its own terrace with unbeatable views of Tower Bridge to the west and Canary Wharf to the east.

Floor-to-ceiling glass windows look out over London with a view of Tower Bridge

Hidden gardens with outdoor dining

Native at Browns outdoor dining

The tranquil courtyard at Ivan Tisdall-Downes and Imogen Davis’s sustainable restaurant is a surprising hidden oasis in the heart of glamorous Mayfair. Trees, plants and contemporary pergolas dapple the sunlight and bespoke blankets lie waiting on the back of chairs in case it gets chilly. Try a selection of zero-waste small plates from Native’s Garden Bites menu. Dip homemade Wildfarmed focaccia into confit garlic oil, tuck into carrots complete with their tops or slide succulent pieces of wood pigeon onto pillowy flatbread. Don’t miss the iconic fish filet, balancing breaded cod cheeks, umami crab rarebit and seaweed tartare sauce into a slider-size brioche bun. Pair with foraged cocktails including sea buckthorn spritz, meadowsweet sour and sage syrup brandy old fashioned. For pud, the legendary caramelised white chocolate and bone marrow marrowmels, lifted with an espresso martini made using waste coffee grounds.

A courtyard with trees and contemporary canopys with chairs at Native at Browns

The Corinthia, Embankment

As seen on tv show A Hotel for the Rich and Famous The Corinthia has an excellent afternoon tea and is home to Kerridge’s Bar and Grill. Now it adds The Garden to its roster of must-try restaurants. A chic courtyard – fully sheltered if raining – serves hotel classics with elegant twists. Starters include tuna tartare with sesame and ponzu, and a superior burrata and fig salad featuring the London-made La Latteria cheese. With the menu in the hands of executive chef Andre Garrett this is best in class cooking, including lobster linguine and a magnificent veal chop. Spatchcocked poussin with preserved lemon, cumin and harissa and smoky wood-fired pizzette (try speck, blue cheese and truffle honey) offer bigger flavours. A generous rose wine list, sink-into seating and striking flower displays make it an easy place to spend a hazy summer afternoon or evening.

The garden at the Corinthia, including sink-into seating and a striking flower display

No.16, South Kensington

As soon as you step through the door of this pristinely manicured mid-Victorian white townhouse, hidden just minutes from South Kensington tube station, co-owner Kit Kemp’s bold statements make themselves known. Textiles in the suite of drawing rooms range in colour from pistachio and pink to stylish yellow and purple, with unique artwork throughout – a huge wall-mounted birdcage marks the entranceway, books line the walls, and hand painted puppets guard the honesty bar stocked with spirits, wines and bubbles.
Continue through to The Orangery for afternoon tea in a terracotta-walled room with tribal statement vases and artwork, brightened by sunshine bursting through floor-to-ceiling French windows.
If it’s a nice day, make the most of No.16’s hidden garden oasis and enjoy a glass of wine in a thick-cut glass goblet, or afternoon tea perched on pale green garden furniture under elegant white parasols. Vases of white flowers dress the tables and Kit Kemp’s personalised Wedgewood crockery adds a bit of fun, with dancing mythical creatures from her favourite Indian fabric that literally look like they have been stitched on to teacups and saucers.
If you’re lucky enough to bag the tiny gazebo, you can look back on the garden, complete with stone fountain bubbling away in the rectangular fish pond.
Click here to read our review of afternoon tea at No.16, South Kensington

No.16 Hotel

Petersham Nurseries Café, Richmond

Seasonal, Italian-inspired dishes are the focus at this charming café set within a glasshouse. Try risotto with peas, garden mint and Parmesan or spiced chickpeas with broccoli, courgette and nigella seed flatbread. Many ingredients come from Petersham itself, and, among others, you’ll find herbs, cherries and salsify growing along its walls. Supplementary produce comes from a tight-knit network of small producers such as Haye Farm, run by Harry Boglione, a son of Petersham’s founders. In summer, you can dine outside under a canopy of wisteria surrounded by roses.

A glasshouse filled with tables, chairs and lush greenery

Rooftop bars and restaurants

Skylight Peckham

In recent years, Peckham has become home to many renowned rooftop restaurants and bars. Skylight Peckham, on top of theatre school Mountview, is the newest in the fleet of rooftop restaurants and boasts a striking sweeping city-wide view. The impressive interiors, including a zinc-topped bar are second to their signature list of cocktails – including a south London iced tea, packed with Hennessey and cranberry juice. A comforting and spacious interior makes this a perfect place for warm summer evenings on the terrace or even somewhere to sit and have lunch while working. A highlight on the menu was the burrata topped with smoked aubergine and nduja, or visit on Sundays for a rotating BBQ menu featuring South African, Portuguese and Jamaican dishes.

The exterior at Skylight, boasting sweeping city-wide views

Boundary Rooftop, Shoreditch

Boundary Rooftop is the ideal spot to rise above the streetside hustle and sip cocktails as the sun sets over a slightly hushed, 360-degree view of London. Shelter under the pergola and a string of fairy lights with a seasonal cocktail and a sharing plate of octopus and chorizo skewers, or fish or meat dishes cooked on a Robata grill. Or just head up after dinner and sit by the outdoor fireplace nursing a digestive glass of vielle prune.

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Click here to read our full review of Boundary hotel and restaurant

Boundary Hotel Rooftop, Shoreditch

The Culpeper, Spitalfields

There are scant opportunities to escape the concrete in East London, which makes the rooftop garden at this handsome Spitalfields boozer all the more precious. Its raised beds and greenhouse (which doubles as a private dining room), provide herbs, salad leaves, tomatoes and aubergines for dishes, such as heritage tomato, peach and cucumber salad, or courgette risotto with goat’s curd and mint.

The Culpeper, London

Decimiño, The Standard Hotel

The Standard hotel rooftop (awesome views, comfy seclusion) has a new draw in its taco truck, created by chef Peter Sanchez-Iglesias’ 10th floor restaurant Decimo. Expect Mexican snacks, stewed chicken and pico de gallo tacos, Maldon oysters, spicy margaritas and Aperol spritz slushies.

Decimiño’s Mexican feast of tortillas, tacos and beans

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