The Best Al Fresco Dining Spots in London
Posted on April 30 2021
With the phased reopening of the hospitality industry now underway in the UK, the dining scene is making a comeback in a big way! Indoor dining is temporarily still a no-go, but pubs and restaurants have been given the green light to resume al fresco dining services. By and large, the response from the restaurant and dining community has been immense, with everyone jumping at the opportunity to eat, drink and laugh in the company of friends and family once again.
With several restaurants now operating nationwide, Dishoom has become a household name in the UK. Diners simply cannot seem to get enough of the unique Indo-Irani dishes and experimental cocktails inspired by traditional Asian cuisine.
The Shoreditch branch is home to the aptly named ‘Verandah’, a quasi-outdoor terrace area adorned with brocade fabrics, vintage decor, and a retractable roof to filter in the sunlight on summer days. It all contributes to the intrinsically laidback vibe and loungey aesthetic, one that customers can enjoy while they sample the culinary delights of the East, including the ever-popular spicy lamb chops and Dishoom’s signature bacon naan, a dish that now boasts legendary status within certain circles.
Reservations for Dishoom Shoreditch can be difficult to come by at present, but we’d strongly recommend that you pull out all the stops to get one. It’s a culinary experience that simply cannot be missed. (Oh and full disclosure, this is a personal favourite of the ZOO Fashions team!)
If you’re chomping at the bit for your Portuguese food fix but fancy exploring outside the boundaries of your local Nando’s for a change, look no further than Casa do Frango. Having recently opened a second site in Shoreditch to accompany the original South London restaurant, Casa do Frongo aims to bring a slice of the Algarve to hungry Londoners. And with a menu that pays homage to traditional Portuguese recipes and a commitment on the part of the founders to use only the finest, locally sourced ingredients in their dishes, we’re delighted to report that they make good on their promise.
The highlight surely has to be their classic chicken dishes which are cooked over wood charcoal (producing a mouth-watering aroma that diners can smell from the open kitchen) and marinated with their secret Piri-Piri blend. All of Casa do Frango’s extremely flavoursome dishes can be enjoyed in their newly-built, enclosed outdoor terrace. Portuguese food was made for the outdoors, so in our opinion, al fresco is the only way to go…
You’ll find the eminently elegant Hush restaurant tucked away in a charming little courtyard in Mayfair, with the tranquil al fresco dining area often attracting the attention of local folk and city dwellers.
The dishes on offer are as exquisite as you would expect from a restaurant located within one of the city’s most affluent districts, providing unparalleled sensory indulgence in terms of taste, sight and smell. Hush invites you to ‘set sail to the Amalfi Coast’, incorporating European cuisines and classic brasserie dishes into their à la carte menu. Sink your teeth into the incredible Tagliatelle Primavera or the fan-favourite Hush Hamburger for the restaurant’s quintessential culinary experience.
Of course, what is a great restaurant without setting and ambience? The courtyard has been described as one of the most instagrammable locations in the entire country, with beautiful floral arrangements and decor that are reworked to thematically align with the corresponding season. If you’re looking for the sophistication of fine dining but without the stuffy haughtiness that usually comes with it, then Hush may very well be the place you’re looking for.
Situated in the heart of Knightsbridge, the two Michelin star Dinner by Heston Blumenthal is one of the most renowned restaurants in the country. The world, even! The garden terrace, which overlooks the famous Hyde Park and provides some truly breathtaking views, is a serene vista with ornate floral compositions and luxurious furniture that are markers of Heston Blumenthal’s uncompromising dedication to quality and detail.
And it’s this same devotion to craft that has made him the globally-revered master chef that he is today, a craft that clearly bleeds through into the culinary creations on offer at this most prestigious of restaurants. Diners can expect to be treated to grand, 5-course banquets in which unique, signature dishes like Blumenthal’s iconic Meat Fruit are showcased in all of their glory. This is the absolute pinnacle of fine dining experiences and we’d struggle to think of a more fitting eatery for those looking for the ultimate in decadent self-indulgence.
Having finally reopened its doors following the UK’s recent lockdown easing, Lost in Brixton promises to be one of the must-visit venues in the South London dining circuit. Billed as a rooftop garden paradise of sorts, Lost is only accessible via a staircase tucked away in the corner of Brixton Market. It’s a haven getaway decked with lush jungle decor and a weather-accomodating retractable roof, an Eden in the clouds where revellers can escape the woes and wants of their daily lives.
Delicious Latin-inspired cocktails and locally brewed craft beers are served on-site, but you’ll notice there aren’t any food traders on the rooftop itself. But not to worry, thanks to the Tablesnapper app, you’ll have full access to a wide variety of eateries from within Brixton Village and Market Row, including fan-favourites Fish, Wings & Tings, Next Level Burgers and Rudie’s Jerk Shack. And as an added bonus, all offer complimentary table service, essentially equating to less fussing and more feasting!
Borough Market is possibly one of the most renowned food markets in the UK, one that certainly holds an element of cultural significance amongst Londoners. It’s a veritable one-stop-shop for dishes and drinks from a medley of different counties and cultures, bound together by a burgeoning sense of community spirit. And the diverse range of cuisines on offer is almost overwhelming to behold. Stop by Oak & Smoke for some delectable Scottish smoked fish products, or sample an assortment of British and European cheeses at the Borough Cheese Company. Whether you’re looking for cured meats, fruit and veg, wine or coffee, you’ll find just the spot (or several) to suit your needs somewhere amongst the mix.
With the April 12th reopening, al fresco dining has now thankfully returned to Borough Market. A host of market vendors and restaurants have set up tables and dining spaces in designated covid-secure areas, meaning you can enjoy your favourite dishes from Borough Market Kitchen’s roster of eclectic eateries and the surrounding restaurants and bars well into the late evening and night. We recommend checking out Borough Market’s own official website to see the full list of vendors and restaurants offering al fresco dining services.
*All venues are open for al fresco dining at the time of writing. However, we strongly recommend confirming times and availabilities prior to visiting. Some venues may only accept reservations at this time and you may want to pre-book in order to avoid disappointment.