Mayfair is a neighbourhood famed for its opulence, lavishness, and exclusivity – and rightly so – its ties with aristocracy and leisurely indulgence date back to the 17th century when it was first developed as a playground for high society. However, as I’ve come to realise while working on this guide, it’s also a place teeming with creativity, innovation and hospitality, where artistic vibrancy, time-honoured luxury and laid-back, family-friendly dining collide. It’s also been heartening to find operators putting sustainability at the top of their agenda, like the inventive foraged creations from the folks behind Native at Browns, whose Chalk Stream Trout with elderflower beurre blanc and wasabi flowers proved just how elegant wild flavours can taste.
Mayfair’s 20 best restaurants to visit this summer, chosen by Rosie Birkett
Author, cook and award-winning food writer Rosie Birkett visits Mayfair's top restaurants.
Written by Rosie Birkett
11th July 2023
Breakfast & Coffee
Popina is the delightful delicatessen from Isidora Popovic, a seasoned Farmer’s Market trader who launched her first-ever bricks-and-mortar site on Duke Street, bringing her delectable offerings to a more permanent home. Already celebrated for her weekly stalls at over 20 market locations, Popina has become synonymous with artisanal baked goods: flaky pastries, tantalising pies, delectable quiches, and irresistible cakes all grace the display at the Mayfair site. An all-day eatery, the breakfast and brunch offering here is particularly strong and full of soul-warming delights such as the green shakshuka with Raclette and spinach, or the indulgent Turkish eggs with lemon and dill yoghurt and sweet paprika oil.
What happens when one of London’s most lauded Michelin-starred chefs tries their hand at opening a cafe? Lobster rolls with Cornish caviar, black truffle croque monsieurs and tomatoes on toast with Jamon Iberico, that’s what. And I’m here for it. Ollie Dabbous’ Hideaway on Mount Street is a favourite with locals and tourists alike, thanks to its beautifully made pastries, decadent lunch and brunch dishes, and eccentric, Parisian-inspired ambience. I love to sit at one of the marble tables with a glass of freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice (harder to find than you might think), single origin coffee and traverse the sweet selection. The sfogliatelle millefeuille with whipped mascarpone, gariguette strawberries and pea shoots is not to be missed.
Founded by the Marchesi family, whose Milanese pastry shop has been going since 1824 (and is now owned by none other than the Prada group), the stylish London outcrop of this Italian institution is a must for Italophiles with a sweet tooth. Stand at the charming wooden bar and sip espresso or a glass of bubbles while you admire the marble floors and treasure trove of confectionery. We love the summery apricot panattone and the pretty candied almonds make for the chicest of gifts.
NAC is a neighbourhood restaurant embracing a Parisian attitude while serving globally-inspired comfort food, healthy salads, and decadent desserts. People come especially for the unmissable Frosties soft serve, which arrives as a perfect silken twirl atop a base of melt-in-the-mouth freshly baked chocolate cookies. It’s beige food at its very best, the sort of thing that looks and sounds like it’s possibly going to be too much, until you taste one mouthful and come to accept you’ll finish every last crumb. We also love the kale Caesar with its plump, sweet sultanas and the frankly outrageous truffled mac and cheese is the perfect accompaniment.
Located on North Audley Street, the Grade 1 listed St Mark Church was deconsecrated in 1974 and has been beautifully regenerated by the Grosvenor Estate to house Mercato Mayfair, a food hall with a focus on traceability, quality and community. A visit here is an immersive experience that’s as much about this magnificent heritage setting as it is the excellent food and drink. Walking in through the soaring, Greek style arches, you’re hit immediately with the scent of fresh flowers from the Nunhead Gardener florist shop that leads into the food hall proper, with its array of specialised global food vendors and bars set against the backdrop of stained glass, intricate carvings and arched ceilings. The food and drink offer, which encompasses freshly made pasta, pizza, Bao buns and ramen, Malaysian cuisine and more, is spread over three floors, with a rooftop bar that’s one of Mayfair’s best kept secrets. We particularly love the ‘Church of Wine’ hidden wine bar behind the former-alter with its pew seating and chequerboard floor, a perfect spot to sip orange wine and enjoy a slice of the Neopolitan pizza on offer.
The Mayfair Chippy
A chippy in the Mayfair mould obviously has some fancy flourishes, and at this award-winning fish restaurant with its chequerboard floor and sea-themed artwork, oysters, soft shell crab burgers and heritage tomato salads sit on the menu alongside classic, beer-battered fried fish and chips. Since opening in 2015, this upscale chippy has won 1AA Rosette and Michelin accreditation thanks to the clever confluence of classic British fish and chip shop flavours with a gourmet approach to sourcing, preparation and presentation. Founded by George Hammer, Chef Pete Taylor, and Jamie Jones, The Mayfair Chippy is a favourite with locals and tourists alike who come to sample one of the UK’s most famous culinary contributions, alongside other British classics like an elevated shepherds pie made with braised lamb shoulder and HP gravy. Customise your fish order with mushy peas, curry or tartare sauce, and add a fried wally if you’re feeling funky.
The Salad Kitchen
A salad these days is so much more than just leaves, and for those times when you just need a speedy, nutritious salad to takeaway, head to The Salad Kitchen, where you can build your own, right down to the chosen crunch of your toasted seeds, crispy shallots or sourdough croutons. As a cook, I love the control of this concept, where you can design your own salad box by choosing from a medley of fresh salad bases – whether crunchy slaw, cooked pulse, pickled red cabbage, nutty grain or sprightly mixed leaves combined with a choice of proteins and signature dressings. Of course if you’d rather have someone else decide, there’s also a lovely selection of readymade salad boxes to go too.
Seafood lovers will feel inspired in this light filled, marble-clad dining room where fish and seafood take centre stage and British ingredients are imbued with a fun New England sensibility. The original Saltie Girl (which is a Maine colloquialism for mermaid, rather than anything less wholesome), opened in Boston, and with outposts now in LA and London, it’s clear the owners are onto a winning formula. As well as celebratory ‘seafood towers’ and large plates like the Dover Sole Meuniere, there are ‘open faced toasts’ that star delicious premium tinned fish, like the Olasagasti Cantabrian anchovy with stracciatella, cultured butter and parsley-shallot vinaigrette, and tinned mussels with escabeche sauce and peperonata. The small plates section of the menu offers some irresistible ideas, with its fried squid with chorizo, piquillo peppers and tartare sauce, and gnocchi and caviar with spring onion. There’s also a well priced set lunch menu which gives you a taste of what they do here for less than forty pounds.
“It was a white box when I took it over, and we’d planned to paint the walls, but once we stripped them back and saw all that history and how beautiful they are, I knew we had to keep them,” says Chantelle Nicholson of the gorgeously distressed walls at her restaurant Apricity in the heart of Mayfair. The glowing, repurposed oyster shell light fittings and chairs made from recycled plastic bottles tell of the low waste ethos here, but nothing feels shabby about this elegant upcycled interior, or its brilliant, boundary pushing menu. Brace yourself to be enchanted by chef Chantelle Nicholson’s artful dishes and unique approach to peak season produce. We adored the butterhead salad, a thing of beauty served as a whole, perfect lettuce meticulously studded with homemade pumpkin miso and shards of shattering crunchy kale. We also experienced one of the best desserts of the year: an ethereal confluence of the juiciest, and unbelievably – Kent grown – peaches strewn over a silken cashew cream, topped with a crush of glittering pink granita and studded with explosively fragrant Thai basil, was a revelation. Apricity promises a dining experience that combines style and flavour, accompanied by a curated wine selection that hits all the right notes.
Led by visionary chef Chet Sharma, who spent years working in development and cooking at some of the UK’s most exciting and decorated restaurants, as well as a stint at the legendary Mugaritz in San Sebastian: BiBi – meaning ‘the lady of the house’ – is an utterly personal, truly original restaurant. And it’s got a glittering array of awards since opening in 2021 to back this up. Sharma’s cooking style is cerebral and progressive, heroeing prime British produce (think ‘Belted Galloway beef Pepper Fry, Devon scallop Nimbu Pani, strawberry and meadowsweet Shrikhand), but with deep roots in the diverse flavours and ingredients at play across the Indian Subcontinent. This clever chef is conveying some of London’s most exciting plates, drawing inspiration from everything from classic regional dishes, to his mum’s recipe for cauliflower cheese. Don’t miss his most famous dish, the Lahori Chicken.
Comptoir Café & Wine
I once saw a sign that read ‘I drink coffee until it’s time for wine’, and this is very much the MO at Comptoir Cafe & Wine, which transitions seamlessly from a daytime café offering posh toasties, to a lunch and evening wine bar. Though really, I think I’d feel rude sitting here and not sampling a glass from one of the thousands of fine wines carefully curated by founder and Master Sommelier Xavier Rousset. The intimate bar, with its giant wheel of aged Gouda which is scooped to grace the farmhouse cheese and charcuterie boards, transports you to the cosy wine bars of Paris, and downstairs is a glittering wine cellar/boutique wine shop where you can taste and stock up on that special bottle – the regional French selection is especially magnificent.
Native at Browns
Wild and wonderful are two words that spring to mind when it comes to Native – the innovative and supremely creative permanent incarnation of Ivan Tisdall-Downes’ and Imogen Davis’ restaurant, which places provenance and sustainability at the centre of every plate. Located in a serene, artisan tiled room at luxury retailer Browns on Brook Street, there’s a sweet little tree-filled Courtyard out the back in partnership with Rathfinny sparkling wine from Sussex. Be prepared to be amazed by the inventive use of British ingredients and vivid, unusual flavours at play here thanks to the foraged finds from the British countryside – we’re talking smoked carrot hotdogs with curry mayo and hay ash vinegar gel, and Chalk Street trout with elderflower beurre blanc and wasabi flowers along with natural wines, and foraged cocktails.
Roka has been a go-to for me for many years for when I’m in central London, and a recent visit back to the Mayfair site has cemented why this long-standing upscale Japanese favourite has such enduring appeal. Walking into the contemporary dining room and being hit with the sizzling smells from the robata grill, you get the sense that you’re in for a treat before you even open the extensive menu, which revolves around sushi, sashimi, and grilled dishes from the grill. I also never fail to order some tempura, which is feather light and shatteringly crisp. The meaty grilled oysters with zippy ginger pearls are a new favourite, while the yellowtail sashimi with yuzu-truffle dressing, and the lamb cutlets with Korean spices will also be on my table at Roka.
Having established itself as an elite Indian fine dining concept with restaurants in six of India’s busiest cities, it’s telling that the people behind Jamavar chose London’s Mayfair for the first international outpost of this renowned restaurant, and it opened to rapturous reviews in 2016, quickly being awarded a Michelin star for its sublime pan-Indian cuisine. Dreamed up by the family behind India’s luxurious Leela Palaces hotels (who’ve since founded the LSL Capital hospitality group in London), the restaurant’s name is derived from the 16th Century Kashmiri Jamavar shawls, renowned for their intricate patterns and vibrant colours which are echoed in the striking interior. Spanning two floors, this place drips with glamour and buzzes with a lively energy fed by its incredible cocktails and scintillating dishes. Culinary director Surender Mohan’s menu traverses the different regions of India, giving diners a taste of the nuanced flavours at play across the subcontinent, and every plate bursts with fragrance and perfectly pitched spice, from the coconut and curry leaf fried prawns of the South, to the yoghurt, tamarind and mint chutney drenched fried potato tikki patties of the North. Restaurant manager Deepak Dubey runs the floor, looking after guests with his friendly and informative front of house style. Make sure you come hungry.
The Colony at The Beaumont
If you fancy whisking yourself away for a glamorous dinner in New York without having to leave Zone 1, then this is the place for you. Inspired by the 1920s grill rooms of New York, and later London, The Colony at The Beaumont, with its sumptuous banquettes and flattering lighting, is the perfect place for an intimate date or a blow out treat with friends. Sink into its sophisticated clubhouse ambience, pretend you’re in Mad Men, and order the Jersey oysters on the half shell, along with a perfect Manhattan designed by whisky specialist Cosmin Trusca, followed by a dry aged ribeye which is cooked over coal and served with a bone marrow ragout. And for dessert, the fabulous bananas Foster is prepared tableside for a final flourish.
The Barley Mow
Anywhere Ben Tish has a hand in the menu, I want to eat, and the handsomely restored The Barley Mow, a longstanding Mayfair landmark owned by the Cubitt House pub group where he’s Chef Director, is no exception. Downstairs in the pub, you can dig into ‘bar snacks’ that far surpass their menu category in terms of clever attention to detail, sourcing and execution: think Coombeshead Farm sourdough with whey butter; moules marinière with cider, leeks and sugar pit-cured bacon; and haggis Scotch egg with whisky mayonnaise. Upstairs in the cobalt blue painted, parquet floored restaurant, starters of scallops with brown butter, hazelnuts and cauliflower, and smoked eel with pickled rhubarb and horseradish tempt before larger plates of Brixham monkfish with tarragon cream, grilled leeks and mussels are joined by rare breed roasted meats from the carvery, which are served with anchovy dauphinoise, fries or Jersey royal potatoes.
Grill 88 at The Biltmore Mayfair
Grill 88 at The Biltmore Mayfair offers an upscale steakhouse from the capable hands of acclaimed Executive Chef Luis Campos. With a cocktail list that pays homage to the hotel’s Mayfair location in drinks like the Mezcal Mews and the Grosvenor Affair, this elegant new steakhouse delights diners with its art-deco inspired interiors and sultry ambiance. Chef Campos passionately curates a menu that showcases the finest ingredients, featuring aged Lake District sirloin steaks, Japanese wagyu, and exquisite oysters (we especially love the grilled king oyster with wild garlic butter), and his team grill over specially-sourced Holm Oak charcoal for a unique flavour.
This legendary Mayfair institution has been known for its trattoria-style Italian dishes since 1953, but its enduring appeal comes down in part to its capacity to move with the times and cater to more modern London appetites. Recently, Delfino has turned its attention to the art of pizza making, honing its 72-hour proved dough and finest Italian toppings carefully sourced from Italy – like the buffalo mozzarella and aged parma ham in the Delfino, which we love. While their signature pizzas steal the show, there is also an array of pasta dishes, from the classic baked beef lasagne to the vegetarian masterpiece of pasta Integrali with its whole-wheat spaghetti with sautéed broccoli florets, aubergine, sundried tomato, salted ricotta, garlic and chilli. The saffron-flecked, mouthwatering arancini di riso e mozzarella are not to be missed as an opening aperitivo with an aperol spritz.
Hélène Darroze at The Connaught
Only one of five restaurants in the UK to hold the holy trinity of three-Michelin stars, Hélène Darroze at The Connaught epitomises craftsmanship – from the sublime, seasonally-shifting menus name-checking its treasured suppliers – to the elegant, dusky pink dining room designed by French interior designer Pierre Yovanovitch. With her distinctive touch, chef Darroze crafts utterly unique dishes inspired by her French heritage and global travels, taking rigorously sourced ingredients and elevating them with cleverly-combined flavours that dance on the tongue and linger in memory. Prepare to be thrilled by masterpieces like her Cornish crabs with pink grapefruit and lampong pepper, or the umami explosion of Cumbrian beef with white miso, aubergine and fenugreek.
Mount St. Restaurant
If you ever find yourself faced with the conundrum of whether to spend your scant free time consuming art or dinner, then look no further than this groundbreakingly clever amalgam of both. At once a gallery, an interactive art piece and a very good restaurant, Mount St. Restaurant was founded by Artfarm (the hospitality arm of luxe-gallery Hauser & Wirth) and situated on the first floor of the lovingly restored Audley Public House. Mount St. Restaurant itself bathes in natural light and features extraordinary, site-specific art that gives diners the chance to interact with contemporary pieces, like in American artist Rashid Johnson’s Palladian marble ‘Broken Floor’ which constitutes the restaurant’s stunning mosaic floor, or the salt and pepper shakers which are based on Paul McCarthy’s sculpture ‘Tree’. The restaurant is also home to works by Warhol, Matisse and Lucian Freud, all of which can be enjoyed as you crack into one of chef Jamie Shears’ clever, luxurious lobster pies.