Fine dining, buzzy ambience and conversation at London's most coveted, yet discreet restaurants
Ever sat in a restaurant and struggled to hear yourself speak over the noise? If you’re over 35, chances are you’ll feel slightly alarmed at wishing they would turn the volume down and think about some soft furnishings, even if the place is a trendy, reclaimed warehouse. But where do you choose when you need to talk over dinner with a colleague, or for a romantic tête-à-tête?
We’ve picked the finest restaurants conducive to chat, which still have oodles of atmosphere.
Table Lumière, Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, 53 Park Lane, Mayfair, London W1K 1QA
This must be one of the most dazzling options for private dining in London. Cocooned by a luminescent oval curtain, the Table Lumière is encircled by 4,500 shimmering fibre optics that plunge from the ceiling, allowing you and your dining companion(s) to soak up the atmosphere, while remaining entirely shielded from the gaze of diners. Absolute privacy, Michelin-starred cuisine, refined service, and an armoury of vintage Hermès china and Saint-Louis crystal are there for your enjoyment. What’s not love?
Gazelle, 48 Albemarle Street, Mayfair, London W1S 4DH
London’s acclaimed bartender Tony Conigliaro is rocking it again with chef Rob Roy Cameron, this time at Gazelle. The discreet venue includes a restaurant and a cocktail bar, housed in a two-storey Edwardian building, which can only be accessed via a private elevator. The first-floor dining area pulls off cosy and grand simultaneously, with its red velvet seating, marble tables and gold detailing. The menu showcases inventive, modern European dishes conceived to encourage sharing. The selection surprises and delights in equal measure: strawberry oysters, halibut with orange and elderflower, and beef with caviar. Meanwhile, on the second floor there’s a cocktail bar that’s as intimate and inviting as a private home. The cocktails are rather lovely too. Aside from the champagne-based cocktails, there are unusual interpretations on the classics. We love the rhubarb Negroni and the liquorice whisky sour.
Gymkhana, 42 Albemarle Street, Mayfair, London W1S 4JH
This Mayfair institution is revered for its elevated Indian cuisine and colonial-style interiors. The atmosphere is vibrant, but you can also find a quiet spot to settle in and enjoy the extremely good-value £20 business lunch offerings. Make the most of the specially conceived ‘Quintessentially’ menu, exclusively available to our members. Gymkhana was awarded a Michelin star in 2014.
Quo Vadis, 26-29 Dean Street, Soho, London W1D 3LL
Quintessentially members have access to this bolthole in Soho that has long pitched itself as 'the members' club for foodies'. It's relaxing and casual enough just to drop in and stay the whole afternoon. A classy refuge in the heart of Soho.
XU, 30 Rupert Street, London W1D 6DL
You can’t move for restaurants in London’s theatreland, so to stand out you need a solid USP. XU harks back to the original social clubs and the luxury dining rooms of 1930’s Taipei, serving Taiwanese cuisine, cocktails and tea. It’s a great spot for soaking up the authentic atmosphere while people-watching. In fact, it’s so relaxed here that it’s not uncommon to see solo diners taking advantage of a little lunchtime ‘headspace’.
Bob Bob Ricard, Upper James Street, Soho, London W1F 9DF
There’s fun to be had in spades at Bob Bob Ricard, with the roaring ’20s décor and the ‘Press for Champagne’ buzzers featured in each booth. On the menu, there’s a playful mix of British and Russian comfort food along with some stellar touches, such as platinum vodka shots chilled to -18°C, venison tartare, ‘humble pie’, three-birds burger and chicken Kiev. Lunchtimes are favoured by business diners, looking to lighten up a tricky deal over vintage fizz or a glass of Château d’Yquem in their private booth. Bob Bob Ricard is high-end dining - with tongue firmly in cheek.
Stem, 5 Princes Street, Mayfair, London W1B 2LF
Following on from his success with Anglo, Mark Jarvis’s second restaurant Stem recently opened in a grand Mayfair townhouse, near Oxford Circus. The space is laid out over two floors, with a small open kitchen featuring the Chef’s Table, designed for diners seeking an immersive take. Upstairs is where Stem delivers “a unique and absorbing dining experience” for those looking for a more peaceful environment. Head Chef Sam Ashton-Booth, formerly of Restaurant Story, has put together a very fine menu of seasonal British dishes, in collaboration with Jarvis.
Outside of London - Surrey and Berkshire
Matt Worswick at The Latymer, London Road, Bagshot, Surrey GU19 5EU
Deep in the Surrey countryside, nestled in the oldest part of the original house at Pennyhill Park Hotel, The Latymer was awarded a Michelin Star and 4 AA Rosettes in 2017. The restaurant is admired for its bold use of flavours, brought to the fore using locally sourced, seasonal ingredients under Chef Matt Worswick. The mood is intimate, thanks to plush details that lend homely warmth. If you’ve an agenda to get through over lunch or dinner, the smaller tables are tucked away in corners, so you can do just that. Unusually, there is no music or background din, so, focus on the food and your companions, without worrying about eavesdroppers
The Hind’s Head, High Street, Bray, Berkshire SL6 2AH
The village of Bray is quintessentially British, and The Hind’s Head, which has been in business since the 1400’s, is a historical landmark. The Michelin-starred restaurant here plays with centuries of classic British dishes, laced with lashings of culinary imagination. The Vicar’s Room – an enclave within The Hind’s Head, reserved for private or business dinners - feels secluded, and theatrical even, in its nod to the Elizabethan era. The centrepiece dining table is hewn from a single trunk of oak and is framed by wood-beamed walls and parlour chandeliers. If it’s a private banquet you’re after, there are few locations like it.
For more information on benefits available to Quintessentially members at the restaurants outlined here, as well as many other unique restaurants around the world, be sure to consult your Lifestyle Manager.