With restaurant terraces set to reopen from 12 April and socially distanced indoor dining following on 17 May, Londoners will be clamouring to enjoy eating out once again.
So who better to recommend some of the best fine dining spots the capital has to offer than current MasterChef: The Professionals champion Alex Webb, who at just 25 was one of the youngest participants in the show’s history when he swept to victory at the end of last year.
The Essex-based chef started in the hospitality industry as a pot washer aged 14 in his local restaurant, going to have stints at Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck and The Savoy before winning the BBC show.
Having been described by celeb judge Marcus Warening as “the future of cooking” and with a great knowledge of the London food scene, Webb, who has teamed up with Coffee Friend, revealed his recommendations of where City A.M. readers should treat themselves once things get back to normal.
Marcus at The Berkeley (Knightsbridge)
This Michelin-starred restaurant is run by my MasterChef: The Professionals judge Marcus Wareing inside the gorgeous Berkeley Hotel on Hyde Park Corner. The five course tasting menu there is an absolute joy to experience – it may be on the pricier side, but it’s worth every penny and I hope to be doing a popup there myself soon.
Marcus’ ideas are all classically French, but retaining that simplicity. He lets the flavours speak for themselves and the presentation is immaculate.
Make sure you save room at the end for their cheese trolley, which has about 30 different types of cheese on it and makes for a decadent end to the meal.
Another restaurant run by a MasterChef: The Professionals judge, Monica Galetti’s haunt in Charlotte Street is the perfect post-lockdown experience, full of warmth and elegance.
Monica worked at La Gavroche so it’s her unique twist on French cuisine – it features all the French classics exquisitely cooked with stunning flavours and textures. And often you’ll be greeted by Monica herself at the door when you come in. She changes her menu regularly, but if the bouillabaisse is on the menu, go for it – you won’t be disappointed.
The setting and decor is worth a visit alone, with the ground floor bar giving way to a basement dining room via an incredible staircase. It doesn’t yet have a Michelin star, but trust me when I say it won’t be far off. The team she has around her is special.
Cornerstone (Hackney Wick)
This spot in the trendy Hackney Wick, run by relative newcomer chef Tom Brown, is my pick for a more laid back dining experience. They got their first Michelin star this year, but their signature is a crumpet with potted shrimp, which is one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten.
Most of Tom’s fare is fish-based, but make sure you try a dish which comes with his signature chicken butter sauce, which has an amazingly rich and savoury flavour.
It is perhaps one of the more hearty and rustic choices on this list, but it has a very cool East London vibe which is the antithesis to Soho or Mayfair.
Core by Clare Smith (Notting Hill)
Clare, who used to work under Gordon Ramsay, is the first and only female chef to run a restaurant with three Michelin-stars in the UK. Core in Notting Hill has only been open three years but it’s already one of the most highly rated places to eat in the country.
She has a lot of her dishes based around the apple core, hence the name, which is a fascinating concept. Her tasting menu represents good value and is a great option for a group keen to enjoy themselves post-lockdown.
The food is fine-dining but with a certain homeliness to it, with many dishes based on her Northern Irish roots. The skilful way she presents the food is very much at one with nature, using things including rocks and stones, adding to the utterly memorable experience.
Hide is the one on the list I’ve not actually been to yet, but they have just been awarded their first Michelin Star.
It has three different levels – Above which is fine-dining, Ground, a more casual all-day space, and Below, a moody basement bar perfect for a pre- or post-dinner drink serving some much-talked about cocktails.
The restaurant looks incredible, a light modern affair in vast surroundings. The menu has been drawn up by hotshot chef Ollie Dabbous, and it also boasts one of the biggest wine lists in the UK.
I have a mantra that if a restaurant has just been awarded thier first star, they are at the very top of their game. As someone who wants a Michelin star himself one day, it is good to find out what they have done to achieve that.