The UK’s best showstopping restaurants to impress

Theatrical restaurants in London

The Game Bird, The Stafford

Overseen by Lisa Goodwin-Allen, executive chef at Lancashire’s Michelin-starred Northcote, The Game Bird delivers upscale, modern British dining within luxe hotel The Stafford. Dishes might include duck pie or crispy cod with warm tartare sauce. Bespoke trolleys are used to serve smoked fish to guests, carve Sunday’s grass-fed British beef tableside, or to showcase the afternoon tea cake selection (£70pp). Mains from £25;

Gravy being poured over a roast at The Game Bird

The Northall, Corinthia

With its soaring columns and enormous windows, the Corinthia hotel’s Northall is an eyeful, even before staff start making a caesar salad tableside or flambéing crêpes suzette. Executive chef André Garrett also runs The Garden, a heated alfresco spot that, in winter, includes cosy fireplaces, cashmere blankets and rum hot chocolates. For the raclette with potatoes and pickled veg, melted cheese is served from a clever heater tableside. Mains from £18;

A waiter putting down a flute cocktail on a table at The Northall, London

Maison François, St. James’s

This stylish update of the classic French brasserie is renowned for eye-catching dishes (oeuf en gelée, fruits de mer) and its beautiful dessert and beef tartare trolleys. The latter carries stellar components (flavour-packed Lowline beef, Maison’s own spice mixture) that are then tailored to diners’ palates as they choose whether to add, for example, capers, Tabasco or anchovy breadcrumbs. You can also take your tartare on bone marrow toast. Mains from £22;

A waiter using the beef tartare trolley at Maison François, London

The Colony Grill Room, Mayfair

With its vintage styling, large booths and striking murals, the Colony pays homage to classic New York grill restaurants. Dishes finished tableside are a big part of chef Ben Boeynaems’ menu, including dover sole meunière with miso butter, theatrically deboned before guests. The sharing wood-grilled tomahawk steak (bone-in ribeye) is a similarly dramatic presentation, carved as it’s served at the table. Deft knife skills maximise the cut’s juiciness. Mains from £20;

The Colony Grill Room's banana foster, cooked right there by your table

Bambi, Netil House

Drama comes in many forms, not least a well-crafted DJ set. As well as whip-smart sharing plates from chef Henry Freestone (think cauliflower cheese arancini, marinated courgettes and whipped feta, roast chicken with focaccia and green sauce), this music-led bar and restaurant comes complete with a lush vintage sound system. On Friday and Saturday nights, guest DJs curated by scene legend Charlie Dark take diners on a deep-dive into their treasured collections. Plates around £8-26;

A selection of food and drinks served on a light wooden table

Harrod’s Dining Hall, Knightsbridge

This astonishing Grade II-listed space relaunched in October 2023, unveiling a raft of newsworthy openings, most notably Sushi by Masa from Masayoshi Takayama, whose flagship New York restaurant holds three Michelin stars. The open-plan kitchens, including Tom Kerridge’s Fish & Chips, surround a small central stage where musicians play pop, jazz, soul and R&B nightly.

Harrod's Dining Hall

Brooklands, Belgravia

Rooftop views are just one of the eye-catching features at this Peninsula Hotel newbie. Inspired by Brooklands racetrack and its aviation links, the interior has many talking points. There is a vintage car and Concorde nose cone in the Brooklands’ lobby, while, in the restaurant, the ceiling incorporates a huge aluminium scale model of Concorde. Like Concorde, the food is an Anglo-French collaboration in ingredients, talent and technique. Chef-director Claude Bosi’s team is serving dishes including Exmoor caviar, Roscoff onion and duck jelly or Racan guinea fowl, sea beet and Scottish razor clams. From £115pp;

The lavish interior at Brooklands, London

TOKii, Marble Arch

From its shabu-shabu hotpot, in which diners gently cook ingredients, to the yellowtail fish carpaccio, this modish Japanese restaurant at the Prince Akatoki hotel serves many beautiful, engaging dishes. For up-close insight into its chefs’ work, take a seat for the omakase menu (£100pp), an 11-course exploration of exquisite ingredients led by sushi chef Kazuyo Okuda. Sharing plates around £8-29;

Robata Lobster, Yuzu Butter at TOKii, London

Jacuzzi, Kensington

Big Mamma’s restaurants are large, lavish spaces. Kensington’s 170-seat, three-storey Jacuzzi offers arresting features galore: indoor trees, trailing foliage, Roman statues, chandeliers, marble floors and Murano glass. Feast on sharing spaghetti alla chitarra with truffle sauce, parmesan foam and fresh black truffle, prepared tableside and served in a 4kg pecorino wheel. Several desserts, such as tiramisu, are generously dished up at table. Mains from £15.50;

Jacuzzi restaurant in Kensington Street, featuring indoor trees, trailing foliage, Roman statues, chandeliers, marble floors and Murano glass.

Theatrical restaurants in the UK

Leno @ DIECAST, Manchester

From frozen daiquiri tanks at the bar, to caravans in the beer garden, this vast indoor-outdoor space is unique. Adding to the spectacle, as the DJ cranks up the BPMs, the platforms and runways snaking around this former foundry come alive with dancers and performers (Thursday-Saturday nights). Food-wise, the main focus is on Leno’s NeoPan pizzas, a steel-pan-baked take on classic Neapolitan pizza. Expect a side order of seasonal vibes: night markets, sausages and steins, a bandstand and mulled wine. Mains from £9;

A fork diving into a whipped feta side dish topped with veg

Thor’s, York

A pop-up Christmas party pitching its tipis at the Principal Hotel and in Museum Gardens. Expect DJs, live music, boozy hot chocolates and roaring fires, with food from Ciao (museum only) and East Asian-inspired faves Yuzu. Yuzu’s Principal menu includes snowboard feasts (with bao, gyoza, karaage chicken, etc; £25pp), and a sharing soy honey glazed camembert with gochujang. Principal site, meals around £10;

A pop-up Christmas tipi in York

Kargo MKT at Central Bay, Salford

This waterfront food hall features around 20 traders, showcasing northern (street) food talent such as Brazilian chef Caroline Martins (aka Rio-Mex), Vietnamese stars VNam or Ethiopian and Eritrean kitchen House of Habesha. Its weekend DJs, live music, monthly themed shows and events, from craft workshops, to kids’ discos, offer a feast of entertainment.

Kargo MKT at Central Bay, Salford

The Wilderness, Birmingham

With its rock soundtrack, running from Slayer to The Stooges, and the black interior making a theatrically dark canvas for the food to come, chef Alex Claridge’s restaurant is a singular creation. Wilderness has its playful details (Bukowski quotes on walls, bespoke crockery art) but Alex’s food is increasingly stark in its design. He wants dishes of beetroot ice cream, ajo blanco, green chilli and smoked oil, or grilled wagyu with Kampot pepper and vinegar dust in a beefy soy broth, to wow with their pure intensity of flavour, rather than colourful, camera-ready aesthetics. From £95pp;

A course served at The Wilderness, next to a glass of white wine

Pizza Pilgrims, Leeds & Nottingham

Putting the pizzazz into pizza, PP’s brand-new Leeds branch features the Frozen Flamingo, a vivid pink pedalo where (after god-tier Neapolitan-style pizza) you can order soft-serve sundaes made with Northern Bloc ice cream. Later, climb aboard and peddle to power the attached opera gramophone. Down in Nottingham, you can enjoy the ‘disco toilet’ – push-button lights, music, glitterball action – and Dramattic, a private dining space complete with fancy dress outfits, big-screen video games and karaoke. Pizza from £9.95;

Pizza Pilgrim in Nottingham's 'disco toilet’ – featuring push-button lights, music and glitterball

Pêtchi, St Helier, Jersey

Grab a kitchen counter seat to watch the wood-fired grills at this Basque-influenced newcomer lick whole turbots, ducks and XL chops into shape. The team will happily chat through the processes behind Pêtchi’s photogenic dishes, from its lobster rice (where a grilled crustacean is attractively reassembled atop the grains) to its half lemon dessert, filled with Amalfi lemon posset and sorrel granita. Smaller plates, £7-14, larger from £26;

A sweet tart topped with ice cream served at Pêtchi, St Helier, Jersey

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