8. Evelyn’s Table at The Blue Posts, Soho
When it comes to the ratio of chefs to diners, it’s hard to beat Evelyn’s Table, an intimate counter concept hidden in the dimly lit guts of one of Soho’s best-known drinking dens. There are just 10 seats, with rising star Luke Selby and his brothers, Nat and Theo, creating an elegant five-course tasting menu only twice daily. The Selbys combine British produce with Japanese techniques and classic French training, honed during Luke’s time training in Japan, as well as at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay and Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, and the results are electric. Watch the brothers navigate the tiny space as deftly as ballet dancers while tenderly tucking straw around salt-baked turnips and piping English wasabi onto foraged nettles filled with tartare. Despite the finesse, a hip-hop soundtrack and playful pours from Palomar Group sommelier Honey Spencer ensure things don’t start feeling too serious. Bookings are released on the first of every month, at midday.
Address: The Blue Posts, Cellar, 28 Rupert St, London W1D 6DJ
9. Lore of the Land, Fitzrovia
A slightly kitsch sliver of Victoriana that somehow just works. The building has been a pub since 1829, although it has just been given a shabby-yet-very-chic £1million makeover by new owners Guy Ritchie and David Beckham. Downstairs in the wood-panelled pub, regulars wearing designer baker-boy caps sip beers from Gritchie Brewing Company and nibble snacks such as crusty sourdough with walnut, treacle and Marmite butter, which tastes even more decadent than it sounds. Follow the smell of meat from Ritchie’s Ashcombe Estate sizzling on a custom-built grill to the upstairs dining room, where every inch of wall space is covered in art from his private collection. Menus change weekly but favour fresh flavour profiles such as miso-poached skate wing and foraged herb salads. Pub purists will be delighted to finish off the meal with a sticky toffee pudding with walnuts, caramel and beer and malt ice cream.
10. The Guinea Grill, Mayfair
This venerable restaurant is living proof that staying the same for long enough will eventually mean that fashion swings back around. A pub has stood on the site since 1423 – before most of Mayfair was even built – and the current landlords, Young’s, have been steering the ship since 1888. Inside, old boys putting away red meat and heavy claret like they’ve never heard of gout, patterned carpets and a collection of caricatures make it feel as if it has tumbled out of a Fifties time capsule. This is a restaurant that’s serious about steak: not only is it a founding member of the Scotch Beef Club, but its steak pie is also regularly voted the best in the UK. A honkingly strong potato and Wensleydale pie dusted with truffle is also a dish to savour.