Updated on 11 November 2017
What could be better than enjoying a delicious meal outdoors in great company? Whilst Summer is still with us, I thought it might be useful to round up some of the best al fresco dining in London. If the weather won’t play ball, some of these spots also have heaters and blankets although let’s hope we don’t need those for quite a while!
CENTRAL – AL FRESCO DINING IN LONDON
In swanky St James, Boulestin is a breath of fresh air. Its charming paved courtyard is tucked down an alleyway and gives welcome shade when its hot. You’re sure to find dishes that you’ll enjoy on the rustic French menu. It’s inspired by the cuisine of Marcel Boulestin, the world’s first TV chef who used to have a restaurant in Covent Garden.
Four Seasons Park Lane
Who’d have known that the Four Seasons Hotel London in Park Lane had such a hidden treasure? The Veuve Clicquot Secret Garden serves up exquisite Summer food dreamt up by Romuald Feger and Veuve Clicquot including their new RICH champagne served on ice. I love the floral decor of begonias, jasmine and clematis too.
Blessed with a large outdoor terrace and a view overlooking the Thames, Northbank Restaurant and Bar is a favourite with both City workers and tourists. Jason Marchant, Head Chef, has created a Cornish inspired modern British menu – the monkfish in particular is a real delight.
NORTH – LONDON AL FRESCO DINING
There are a number of great restaurants on Granary Square near King’s Cross, including Caravan and The Lighterman.
SOUTH – LONDON AL FRESCO DINING
Did you know that the OXO Tower is one of the first examples of advertising in London? This wasn’t allowed on public buildings at the time so when the tower was built in the 1920s, the architect Albert Moore cleverly incorporated a reference to the OXO beef cube into the design. These days its a smart restaurant, bar and brasserie with a mean line in ice creams – make sure to try the charcoal one, it’s actually very tasty.
Le Pont de la Tour
Le Pont de la Tour is one of the best al fresco locations in London with uninterrupted views of the Thames and Tower Bridge. The former tea warehouse has a light and airy bar which mixes up great drinks and a cosy restaurant with outdoor seating on a pedestrianized riverside street. They offer some keenly priced set menus and the classic French cuisine is a treat.
EAST – LONDON AL FRESCO DINING
I love a good rooftop restaurant and Coq d’Argent is one of the nicest in London. With great views over the City, they hold some fun events like Pilates With a View. I’d certainly be tempted by their Picnic in the Garden too!
A newcomer to London’s dining scene, Coppa Club in Tower Bridge immediately stood out with its super friendly service, well executed dishes, stylish decor and of course, that view of The Shard and HMS Belfast… So I was excited to find out that they’ve recently launched more eateries in St Paul’s, near Oxford Circus and in one of my favourite riverside villages, Sonning-on-Thames.
WEST – LONDON AL FRESCO DINING
If you like a bit of culture with your cuisine then Gallery Mess is the place for you. It’s part of the Saatchi Gallery but open to all and one of my regular haunts for a catch up and glass of wine with friends. They focus on seasonal ingredients and the interior is as attractive as the exterior, with vaulted ceilings and modern artworks galore. The giant shoe sculpture is my favourite.
Kensington Roof Gardens
I think it’s safe to say that Babylon at The Roof Gardens is the only al fresco restaurant in London with its own pink flamingos! They seem to like it here as much as the diners tucking into modern British cuisine.
So there you have it, my top 10 London al fresco dining recommendations, based on places that we’ve eaten at and enjoyed. There are many more that I haven’t yet tried but which I’ve heard are excellent, like River Café, The Ledbury and Lurra.
Which are your favourite al fresco dining spots in London or near you? We’re always pleased to get recommendations.