Certain areas of London dominate the headlines when it comes to new openings, fine dining and old favourites (Mayfair and Marylebone, Soho and Shoreditch, Chinatown and Clapham, I'm looking at you). But if you're a West or South-West Londoner, or visiting those areas, don't venture too far out of Hammersmith and Fulham for your next meal. You can find everything from first-class pub fare to Michelin stars, with a sprinkling of international eateries to boot.
The Harwood Arms
For fuss-free fine dining in the comforting, wood-panelled embrace of a good old British public house, look no further than The Harwood Arms, rightly proud of being the only Michelin-starred pub in London (plus it has its own rooftop vegetable garden). Head chef Jake Leach delighted diners at Fera and The Ledbury; here he has turned his attention to game, with a menu that features everything from venison Scotch egg to muntjac pâté en croûte (plus veggie options for each course), and as much wild food as possible.
Walham Grove, London, SW6 1QP, harwoodarms.com
The River Café
If a London restaurant has managed to stay open, and successful, for 34 years, you know it’s a winner. Famed beyond Hammersmith and Fulham, The River Café overlooks the Thames, with its own riverside terrace. Its Italian food, “superlative ingredients… and servers who welcome with genuine enthusiasm”, earned it a Michelin star in 1997, which it retains. Its kitchen has trained, among others, Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall so the calibre of chefs is extremely high. Expect decent-sized portions of perfect pasta and don’t miss the famous Chocolate Nemesis dessert.
Thames Wharf, Rainville Road, London, W6 9HA, rivercafe.co.uk
Befitting its waterside location beside Hammersmith Bridge, the Sam’s Riverside menu features oysters hailing from Northern Ireland, Jersey or the west coast of Scotland plus modern British and Mediterranean dishes, with meat and fish taking centre stage. Sam Harrison knows his crowd; he ran Sam's Brasserie in Chiswick and Harrison's in Balham for a decade, until 2015. Stop by Sam’s Larder before you leave for everything from cheeses from Neal’s Yard, biscuits from Hedone Bakery, bottles from the restaurant wine list and freezer pies by head chef Ashley Tinoco.
1 Crisp Walk, London W6 9DN, samsriverside.co.uk
Endo at The Rotunda
If you’re a gastronome who hugely missed 20-course, fine dining outings during the various lockdowns, Endo should be your next port of call. Chef Endo Kazutoshi, a third-generation sushi master, will lead you through a dining experience known as Omakase (£195), which means ‘I leave it up to you’ in Japanese. As important as the food is to this experience – seasonal, artistic and inventive – the service, inspired by ‘Omotenashi’, the art of hospitality rooted in empathy towards one’s guest, and the surroundings complete the package. From the top floor of the former Television Centre in White City, gaze across West London from within the light, bright minimalist space, complete with a 200-year-old Hinoki wood counter and a cloud light feature.
8th Floor, The Helios, Television Centre, 101 Wood Lane, London, W12 7FR, endoatrotunda.com
We trust Grace Dent implicitly. She got our attention by praising FENN for its “casual yet caring service that verges on Michelin standard, but could equally be the cafe on the corner.” Surely this, plus best of British produce, is everything you could want from your local go-to? Especially if you already know and love its big sister, Nest, in Hackney, and like to dine with a clear conscience. Meat, for example, comes from small-scale sustainable farms across the UK, while shellfish come from Keltic Seafare, sourced from crystal clear ‘Class A’ waters off the coast of Scotland. Executive head chef Johnnie (who’s the founder) and head chef Joe Laker aim with their menus to celebrate the very best the UK has to offer.
194 Wandsworth Bridge Road, London, SW62UF, fennrestaurant.co.uk
First Brixton, then Soho and now W12, its largest restaurant so far, complete with open kitchen and a tropical terrace; Kricket is on a roll. If a menu packed with the likes of parathas, pakoras, bhel puri, curries and suckling pig shoulder vindaloo whets your appetite, this modern Indian favourite is the one for you. Don’t miss its third annual Guest Chef Programme this September, in aid of the Apne Aap Women’s Collection – there’s still time to book for Andrew Clarke and Selin Kiazim (Michel Roux Jr is already sold out), who are collaborating with founder and head chef Will Bowlby for one night only. Enjoy a cocktail followed by a three-course sharing menu designed to showcase the guest chefs’ cooking styles alongside Will’s approach to Indian food.
2 Television Centre, 101 Wood Lane, London, W12 7FR, kricket.co.uk
This is a restaurant that had been there, done that, bought the plant-based T-shirt a good couple of decades before the rest of the world caught on. Founded in 1989, the team has a remarkable 32 years of experience creating delectable veggie and vegan dishes; we can say with authority that many carnivores may walk out thinking this way of life could actually work for them (or at least pledging to commit to Meat Free Monday). Veggies are given star treatment: miso-glazed, smoked, chipotle marinated to perfection – a side of chunky herb polenta chips is a must. Plus there's an extensive list of vegan wines (non-vegan wines are filtered through animal-derived fining agents to remove protein, yeast, cloudiness etc). We'll definitely raise a glass of vegan Merlot Grenache to that.
51 Queen Caroline Street, London, W6 9QL, thegaterestaurants.com