When a Walthamstow pie and mash shop was given Grade II listed status, it got us wondering how many other London restaurants are in buildings of architectural or historical merit and beauty? Well a quick trawl through the files at English Heritage turned up a surprising number - we've listed 10 of the best below.
Soho - 26-29 Dean Street, London W1D 3LL
The eighteenth century terraced house that is now home to the Hart brothers' Soho restaurant is Grade 1 listed on the basis of its very famous former resident Karl Marx who lived in the house from 1851 to 1856. As you'd imagine a lot of the interior is markedly different from anything Karl would have recognised, but there's apparently still some original panelling from the building's earlier years.
224 Piccadilly, London W1J 9HP
Anyone who's stepped foot inside this beautiful restaurant - which more recently played a key role in an episode of Downton Abbey - will probably be unsurprised at its Grade II starred listing. There are still various original interior features in the current restaurant from the 1870s - look out for the tunnel vaulted Long Bar with its glistening gold mosaic decoration (Arthur Conan Doyle had Watson first hearing about Sherlock Holmes here) and the first floor banqueting room.
Hawksmoor Seven Dials
Covent Garden - 11 Langley Street, London WC2H 9JG
Formerly an old Watney-Coombe brewery which by the 1880s was the fourth largest in London, the survival of a Victorian industrial building in central London seems to have been rare enough to get this listed. Look out for the cast iron columns, jack-arched roof and barrel-vaulted cellars in the restaurant. You won't be the first people to enjoy a good bit of meat here - Alderman Coombe held a steak dinner for the Prince of Wales at the brewery back in 1807
George and Vulture
Hoxton - 63 Pitfield St, London N1 6BU
Their website now boasts of their being the tallest pub in London but this East London establishment has also been a coffee house and a chop house in its day. Built in the early 18th century No 3 Pitfield Street, which is now part of the restaurant here serving up Italian food, is a building associated with various literary characters -, but most particularly Charles Dickens.
Dumplings Legend/ Opium
Chinatown - 15-16 Gerrard Street, London W1D 6JE
Today it's the upstairs bar Opium where the design harks back to the historical roots of this building but the downstairs restaurant used to be called the Mont Blanc restaurant back in the 1900s. It's famous for being the place where G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc first met. Chesterton wrote of the momentous meeting "When he came into the door there entered with him the smell of danger...He talked into the night, and left behind in it a glowing track of good things."
Soho - 29 Romilly Street, London W1D 5HP
The building now hosting Kettners has been here since the mid 1730s. Look for the Edwardian panelling if you're ever at a do in one of the upstairs rooms. It's been a restaurant since 1867 when it was opened by Auguste Kettner (chef to Napoleon III).The Apartment private dining room on the first floor is where Edward VII entertained his mistress Lilly Langtry. Apparently there's even a tunnel linking Kettners to the Palace Theatre which was created to enable the couple to meet more discreetly.
Covent Garden - 35 Maiden Lane, London WC2E 7LB
Originally opened in 1798 making it London's oldest restaurant, the current restaurant was designed in 1873 by Alfred Cross for Benjamin Rule, fishmonger and oyster bar proprietor. Lots of what you see here in terms of the design dates back to the 1873 rebuild, and the menu probably hasn't changed that much either. In terms of famous clientele, it would be easier to say who hadn't been to Rules rather than who had. In 1971 when the restaurant was threatened with demolition one of those who spoke up for its survival was Sir John Betjeman.
F Cooke's Eel Pie & Mash Shop / Shanghai Dalston
Dalston - 41 Kingsland High Street, E8 2JS
It may now be a Chinese restaurant with karaoke rooms, but from 1902 to 1997 it was one of six establishments owned by the Cooke family who still run a pie shop in Broadway Market. From the beautiful mosaic floors to the 1930s lamps and the Delft-style panels depicting scenes of eel fishing this is one of the most stunning examples of a pie shop left in London. Go and gaze in wonder.
Quality Chop House
Farringdon - 92–94 Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3EA
Built in the 1890s this has been a restaurant since the early 1900s when the legend Progressive Working Class Caterers was etched into the glass here. English Heritage call it a "unique example of early 20th century working class restaurant, surviving complete with all fittings" including the oak benches (now with comfy cushions) and tables, glazed kitchen hatch and frieze of 'steleorite' decorative tin panels.
The Gilbert Scott
St Pancras Hotel, St Pancras
George Gilbert Scott's Gothic Revival masterpiece was restored to its original splendour in 2011. The room where Marcus Wareing now has his restaurant used to be the ground floor coffee room of the Midland Grand Hotel. The fabulous decorated pillars carved with conkers, pea pods and omegranates were probably added in the late 18th century.
Also worth checking out
- The Old Bengal Warehouse on New Street is now home to restaurants, bars and a wine shop from the D&D group. It's a Grade II listed Georgian warehouse which was built by the East India Company in the mid-18th century as a home for silk and textiles from Bengal (hence the name).
- It's a greasy spoon rather than restaurant, but E Pellicci on Bethnal Green Road is more than worthy of a mention here. Pretty much untouched since it was first kitted out as a cafe in 1946, the cafe's facade has a deep custard-colour Vitrolite frieze. Look out for the Art Deco-style marquetry panelling crafted by local carpenter and family friend Achille Capocci.