It’s safe to say that you’re spoilt for choice if you want to dine in London. From Michelin-star restaurants to pop-up delights, with the odd takeaway thrown in for good measure – just about every cuisine imaginable is available in the capital.
In fact, the range of options is so vast that we’ve decided to ignore the traditional restaurants altogether. Much like our alternative guides to shopping and music venues, this post is about finding places that don’t necessarily spring to mind when looking for somewhere to enjoy London’s finer things.
All that’s left to do now is read about – and visit – the best alternative restaurants in London. Knives and forks at the ready!
On the face of it, a pizzeria doesn’t seem too alternative. But don’t be fooled easily; this Italian restaurant ramps the up theatrics to 11. Expect karaoke, pizza sharing and even the odd celebrity in this rambunctious restaurant. If you’re looking for a quiet night out, Bunga Bunga is not for you. If, however, you desire something different from the run-of-the-mill, you’ll enjoy the crazy antics, upfront staff members and party atmosphere of this Italian delight.
Where: Battersea and Covent Garden
Located in the heart of Mayfair, Sketch serves amazing Michelin-starred food in one of the most breathtaking settings ever. Created by Mourad Mazouz and Pierre Gagnaire, it has all the ingredients (excuse the pun) to be considered the most “instagrammable” restaurant in the Capital… Choose among their five rooms, and make sure to follow the suggested dress code when visiting it!
Where: 9 Conduit St, Mayfair, London W1S 2XG
Bel Canto provides fine French food which, on the face of it, seems fairly normal. Nothing alternative to see here, so it seems. Oh, what’s that? It’s an opera-themed restaurant? Well that’s pretty alternative. Get ready for waiters and waitresses serving your fancy French food while singing opera classics. There are solo, duet and group performances to take in while you’re served lobster bisque, smoked duck, braised pork cheeks, salmon pave and more.
Where: 67 Bayswater Rd, London W2 3LG
Of course you need a breakfast cereal cafe – this is London after all. With a name like Cereal Killer Cafe, this east-end delight was always going to make our list; you can’t discredit one of the best plays on words ever. But back to the crunchy delights – expect to find cereals from all over the world, as well as milk flavours that include bubblegum and salted caramel. Cornflakes at your kitchen table this is not.
Where: Brick Lane and Chalk Farm
Fancy indulging in a top-notch meal while trying to figure out whodunit? On The Murder Express, a pop-up restaurant at Pedley Street station, you’ll travel back to the 19th century (not literally), when taking the train for pleasure was all the rage, and enjoy courses from BBC One’s Masterchef finalists 2016, Billy and Jack. Get ready for a theatre and dining experience with a twist.
Where: Arch 63 Pedley St, London E2 6GS
Have you ever eaten in pitch black darkness? If you haven’t, Dan Le Noir provides the perfect backdrop for your first time with its dining in the dark. The visually impaired staff guide you around as you leave all smartphones and digital watches at the door. Expect to enjoy high-quality food with a gastro experience you won’t forget. If you can find your mouth from the plate, that is.
Where: 30-31 Clerkenwell Green, Clerkenwell, London EC1R 0DU
Cheese, cheese, and more cheese – that’s what you can expect at the cheese bar. If you like dairy, then you’re in for a treat. There is baked camembert, queso fundido, and toasties topped with glorious cheese to dig into at the Cheese Bar. You’d be forgiven for thinking that you were in a swanky London bar, ready to try the latest Martinis. Instead, it’s cheese delights instead of alcoholic ones in this cheesetastic venue.
Where: Unit 93, 94 Camden Stables, Camden Town, London NW1 8AP
The name might be a giveaway when it comes to guessing what type of experience you’ll receive at Circus. The food is Pan-Asian, and each course is delivered to the backdrop of a collection of acrobats swinging through hoops and fire-eating dancers doing fiery stuff around your table. Once the nosh has been nohsed, work off the calories by dancing until the early hours.
Where: 27-29 Endell St, London WC2H 9BA
Wait. What? Food in a prison, you say? People are supposed to break out of prison; not try and gain entry into one. Enter the Clink Charity, who have opened HMP Brixton to regular folk with current inmates providing the waiter service to help attain their catering qualifications. Not just anyone can go, however. As the restaurant is inside an actual prison, there are a number of security checks that need to be carried out, which means you need to apply first, providing with your current job details.
Where: HMP Brixton, Jebb Ave, London SW2 5XF
Unsurprisingly, everything on this menu contains garlic. The settings are dark in this basement bar and restaurant, where garlic shots are the norm. There are 101 different flavours of vodka, with six of those incorporating, you guessed it, garlic. Other delights include garlic beer, chilli cheese, garlic olives and potato skins.
Where: 14 Frith St, Soho, London W1D 4RD
Dining with a difference
People travel from all over the world to experience London’s restaurant scene first hand. Next time you’re thinking of visiting somewhere to satisfy your appetite, go alternative instead. Who needs a traditional culinary experience when you can try quirky, wonderous and outright whacky restaurants?
Let us know your experiences at restaurants that provide a different kind of atmosphere, or any places you think we’ve missed out, in the comments below.