How many of these have you eaten at?
Archipelago, Goodge Street
They’re more famed for the menu than the decor at Archipelago, but the interior’s exotic in its own right — eat your insect salad or cured snake meat amid a wealth of red silk, gold ornaments, palm trees and peacock feathers.
Archipelago, 53, Cleveland Street, W1T 4JJ
Clos Maggiore, Leicester Square
This French favourite’s seen its fair share of proposals. Though the restaurant itself is nice enough — all warm lighting and oil paintings — it’s the conservatory that hopeful suitors are going to be aiming for; trellises groaning with flowers over the ceiling and archways.
Clos Maggiore, 33, King Street, WC2E 8JD
The Oak, Westbourne Park
The Oak’s beautiful all over, though if you’re willing to give up the run of the full menu in the downstairs gastropub, try Upstairs at the Oak for the tapas menu and even prettier — and more informal — bar. With the dark red curtains drawn and people settled into the sofas, it feels more like the drawing room of your country estate than a London pub.
The Oak, 137, Westbourne Park Road, W2 5QL
Petersham Nurseries, Richmond
Lots of restaurants in London are doing the Outside In thing to good effect — the garden-conservatory at Blixen and the Salon at Spring are also good places to get a fix of foliage indoors — but Petersham Nurseries have been doing it for longer and with a more relaxed feel than most. It’s only open for lunch and tends to book up way ahead thanks to the prettiness of the flower-covered space, and the big-name chefs it attracts — that’s currently Damien Clisby, ex-Cotswold House.
Petersham Nurseries, Church Lane, Petersham Road, TW10 7AB
Crocker’s Folly, St John’s Wood
It’s alright, this gastropub, isn’t it? You know, if you’re into that whole spectacularly ornate, Grade II listed building thing. If you’re into somewhere the chandelier light bounces off the high windows and gilded mirrors, and turns to a dull glow on the dark wood of the walls and the heavy leather furnishings, you could do worse than this pocket of splendour, a few streets away from Lord’s cricket ground.
Crocker’s Folly, 24, Aberdeen Place, NW8 8JR
Campania, Columbia Road
Relatively hard to find, even harder to leave after — in contrast with some of the places we’ve covered here, this small Italian restaurant is less about grandeur, and more about slightly faded, shabby loveliness. Down a narrow Bethnal Green side street, it’s beautiful inside and out in an unassuming, faded wood, bare bulbs and candlelit glow sort of way.
Campania, 23, Ezra Street, E2 7RH
Beast, Bond Street
The menu at Beast isn’t for everybody. Or for every day: man cannot live by crab and Angus steak alone. But the restaurant’s something special, with its candlelight and warmth and long, wooden tables. There’s a definite Game of Thrones, banqueting-hall-of-your-ancestors feel but without the undercurrent of simmering violence. All of the savagery here is happening to the enormous plates of meat and seafood.
Beast, 3 Chapel Place, W1G 0BG
Victory Mansion, Stoke Newington
Victory Mansion’s beautiful like your cool friend’s living room’s beautiful — just about within reach, if only you started being good at collecting interesting objets d’art and scraps of palm-fronded wallpaper. Or started investing in art deco lacquer and dark wood and dark green leather furnishings. You’d also have to get great at making dystopian-themed cocktails and incredible bar snacks. So just accept you’re not going to do any of that and start going to Victory Mansion instead.
Victory Mansion, 18, Stoke Newington High Street, N16 7PL