Three months into lockdown and the prospect of a meal out in a London restaurant has never seemed so appealing. But where would we choose as the first restaurant we'd want to go to when the lockdown is finally lifted? 1500 of you took part in our survey back in May, asking where you hoping to dine once restaurants reopen. Here are the results.
Where: Spitalfields, Borough, Knightsbridge, Seven Dials, Air Street, Guildhall
In a nutshell: It would be easy to say it's Hawksmoor's amazing steaks from grass-fed, native cattle that get Hot Dinners readers all hot under the collar. But actually the love for this restaurant group goes way deeper than that. People have a real connection with the restaurants and the staff. Right now they're particularly loving the company's response to the Coronavirus lockdown - classy even in adversity.
Who doesn't love a great steak, but the main reason is that when lockdown first happened and people were looking to buy vouchers to support them, they suggested that they would survive and to try and back small independents. And for that I want to buy my first meal from them. - Madelene
Hawksmoor for me is the definition of the London dining scene, friendly staff, warm interiors, central locations and simple yet delicious food. No one does steak better than Hawksmoor and it's something I'm struggling to cook to perfection at home. I would order the biggest T bone cut with all the sides and keep the Chateauneuf flowing. - Joanna
I have been there before and the steak was absolutely mind-blowing. Moreover, I receive their newsletter and their communication during lockdown has been earnest, moderate and encouraging. Excellent tone of voice and attitude. - Jette
Anyone who doesn't choose this restaurant wants to have a word with themselves. - Anne Marie
Where: 9 West St, West End, London WC2H 9NE
In a nutshell: Picked almost as much for the restaurant experience it promises, often by readers who haven't yet dined there, The Ivy has a reputation for giving folk a good night out. The classic dishes keep people coming back again and again, but it's also the glamour and the cosseting that made so many pick this London stalwart.
The Ivy have created the very best Shepherd's Pie. Missing it loads! - Kathryn
My favourite, always a great meal and a great evening - Wayne
Where: King's Cross, Covent Garden, Soho, Knightsbridge, Shoreditch
In a nutshell: The last few days before lockdown may have been the only time you're ever likely to have seen no queues outside a Dishoom. Whether you're in Kensington or King's Cross, the wait is almost as much a part of a trip there as the meal itself. From bacon naans for breakfast to their famous black dal for dinner, they are part of the fabric of London life.
There is nothing like the atmosphere of the bustling Dishoom restaurants, especially the King's Cross site. Alongside the fabulous food and drink offerings this is the perfect antidote to all those nights cooking at home. - Suze
It used to be part of our weekend ritual. To go out for a walk into town on a Saturday, dither around deciding where to eat, and invariably end up in one of Dishooms in central London. The perfect food, perfect service, perfect ambience, it always felt like a treat! - Matt
Where: 4 Redchurch St, Hackney, London E1 6JL
In a nutshell: The buzz of the Shoreditch crowd in Brat's dining room is missed as much as the cooking over fire - oh and the wine list too. We've never been without making friends with fellow cheek by jowl diners, so here's hoping that in a socially distant future that remains the same.
I dream of sitting in this lively restaurant, surrounded by happy people enjoying one of life’s greatest pleasures. I’ll make my way through their glorious menu, chatting to the waiters, enjoying delicious natural wines and being beyond grateful to be out of my little flat! The simple things are the ones I miss most. Counting down… Caitie
Being stuck in a small flat, wood-fired food isn’t really an option! Dreaming of young leeks, whole turbot and smoked potatoes! - William
Where: 42 Albemarle St, Mayfair, London W1S 4JH
In a nutshell: Poor Gymkhana. They'd barely reopened after the fire before closing once more with the lockdown. That means there are a LOT of folk who are going to want a table there - good luck fighting Ed Sheeran and Oprah off.
It is my favourite restaurant in London. I used to go every year to Trishna, and Gymkhana when it opened, for my birthday celebration with my twin sister and was very sad when they had the fire. I had made a booking for March 2020 and was really looking forward to it. - Matilde
After never being able to get a table and then the fire which closed it, I managed to get a table for my other half’s birthday due to your newsletter letting us know when bookings opened. Then the virus whipped my plate from under my nose. We now have a couple of birthday celebrations and craving for spice to satisfy. - Ian
Where: Soho, Shoreditch, The City
In a nutshell: Obviously you could have a go at recreating the meat feast that is the Blacklock all-in but you'd be missing out on the fun of a meal here whether you've nabbed a rare table for their epic weekend brunch or a Friday night feast with a group of friends.
Everything is geared towards having the most fun you can have at a restaurant. It's relaxed, it's fun, easy, there's no pretentiousness, and the food, drink and service are excellent. You smile, the staff smile, and then there's the extra dollop of cheesecake that they know you're too polite to ask for, but give you anyway. - Jack
The all-in is one of the best value meat feasts ever and that bread soaked in the juices is the stuff of which dreams are made. Plus a fiver for a top notch Old Fashioned really can’t be beat as a way to celebrate our freedom. - Andrew
Where: 88-94 Farringdon Rd, Farringdon, London EC1R 3EA
In a nutshell: There's a lot to love about chef Shaun's cooking at this Farringdon establishment, but anyone who says it's not mainly about the amazing confit potatoes are pants-on-fire liars.
For that mince and those potatoes!! Plus Shaun Searley's menu and the effortless hospitality from the team - Kevin
It was the last restaurant we went to pre-lockdown, and it'll be the first. We're OBSESSED with the confit potatoes. Of course you can still buy them from the shop, but it's just no way as good as sitting in with a lovely rare steak, a pile of those confit bad boys, and a couple of bottles of amazing plonk. Currently drooling. - Victoria
Where: 58 Brewer St, Soho, London W1F 9TL
In a nutshell: Merely getting a coveted seat up at the counter of this Soho spot used to be enough to make you realise why you really couldn't live in any other city. Where else would you get such delights as their hogget skewers? Who knows how counter dining is going to work when the lockdown is lifted, but we're sure where there's a will there's a way.
I was planning to go here the week before lockdown, having had a craving for a while. Then the news got scary and I stayed away and I regret not making the trip. I'm a decent enough home cook but I don't have the right equipment or access to low volume ingredients to to make those delicious crabby porky glass noodle clay pot, or that cuminy grilled hogget which form the basis of the craving! - Michelle
Spicy, fire-y and a great vibe - these people clearly love food and we love them! The simple pleasure of queueing up for what you know will be an incredible meal makes the wait all the more worthwhile! - Becci
Where: 34-35 Maiden Ln, Covent Garden, London WC2E 7LB
In a nutshell: Vying with Wiltons for the title of London's oldest restaurant, Rules dates back to the late 1700s, opening when George III was on the throne. Its sumptous interiors and game-focused menus make it marvellously old-school and that's just why we love it.
My favourite by far. The food is always scrumptious, the service is impeccable. I love every mouthful and the ice cold Guinness in a silver tankard is to die for. - Glynis
Because everyone should try their delicious steak and kidney pudding once a year accompanied by a pint of chilled porter. - Phillip
Where: Strand, London WC2R 0EU
In a nutshell: The last time we were in the Savoy Grill, Gavin bumped into Sir Michael Caine. Yes, it's that kind of place. If you want to be treated like an A-lister - and who wouldn't after all this - then this is the place to come. No wonder so many readers are wanting to book it.
It has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl. These uncertain times have made me realise that we have to seize the day and not put off fulfilling our dreams. - Sarah
After going through this lockdown I want to be pampered like a special person and hang the expense. - John
Plus at 11-20
- 11. Le Gavroche - “Surely leaving lockdown needs to be celebrated in the most convivial atmosphere, and I can't think anything better than being looked after at Le Gavroche, eating classic French food in good company with good wine!” - Richard
- 12. Aqua Shard - “I had previously booked to take my girlfriend for a meal at The Shard as it is something she has always wanted to do. She is currently still working as a teacher which I know is hard work especially at these hard times and I’m very proud of her for staying positive and teaching the NHS and key workers' kids.” - Antony
- 13. Bao - “I'm currently in lockdown in the Scottish Borders where the bao bun hasn't quite reached yet and I am missing my fix so badly! I'd go with my friend Charlotte as it is our regular haunt and would order the entire menu between us.” - Lorna
- 14. Flat Iron - “I would have to choose Flat Iron. Great steak, wine and sides without breaking the bank. Have definitely missed this place since lockdown started! Wouldn’t say no to a McDonalds either…” - Alex
- 15. Mildreds - “I love everything I’ve had there as a vegetarian. Their cocktails are banging too” - Katie
- 16. Benares - “It's where we have celebrated many happy occasions, the food is always amazing and so is the welcome.” - Claire
- 17. Padella - “Their pasta dishes are sublime! And hopefully, the queues won't be so long post lockdown?” - Arabella
- 18. Smoking Goat - "The Smoking Goat is everything you want: Smart without being stuffy, spicy, non-judgemental about a beer, but such delicious wines too - it can be fancy or a pit stop of a plate of wings (read 2 plates of wings) where you lick your fingers and move on, knowing you've eaten the best single item dish on any menu in London, to going full blow out northern Thai feast and end the night hopelessly still trying to get that one grain of larb rice onto the end of your chopstick before you give up” - Yasmin
- 19. Brasserie Zedel - "I think their 3-course set menu is great value, service is always good and it will just feel fantastic to be in such a large room with so many other people enjoying themselves, listening to live music and laughing.” - Lauren
- 20. Moro - "The best Moorish food ever and rosewater and cardamom ice cream to die for” - Rosamund
And your top high street chains
Along with a lot of Londoners, we're almost as desperate for a fast food fix as we are a sit down restaurant experience. Like reader Nicholas, we really want both - “I will travel to Bond Street station en route to a proper lunch in Mayfair followed by some evening pints. But before I leave the station I won’t be able to resist a quarter pounder or Big Mac meal depending on my mood! Probably both, it been so long.”
Here's what Hot Dinners reader are most desperate for, when it comes to fast food post-lockdown.
- Pizza Express
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