Tome-like menus getting you down? Feeling a bit of FOMO after seeing the dish that you were going to order (but didn't) get eaten by someone else? Yeah, navigating restaurants can be a real stress sometimes – it's why so many of us rarely branch out of the comfort zone of our favourite orders at our favourite neighbourhood joints. While that might be the safest approach to avoid disappointment, ordering the same thing over and over and over again isn't what going out to eat is really about, is it?
Trying new cuisines and exciting dishes is one of the most effective ways of connecting yourself all Matrix-like with a specific time and place. It's a way of understanding cultures you may otherwise know little about and a way of feeling feelings you may otherwise have never felt before. One of the best methods to expand your palate and pelt yourself with a range of those sensations is through a tasting menu – which, hyperbole aside, can be a life-changing experience in the food department.
As anyone who's ever put their trust (and stomach) in the hands of a chef will be able to tell you, tasting menus can be heavy, refreshing, decadent, challenging, and downright fascinating all at once. They can be an assault on your head, meticulously crafted to ascertain a certain response. Or they can just be really ridiculously tasty. Going out to eat a tasting menu can provide a gustatory experience like no other.
Are you ready to take the plunge? Because this is your last chance. After this, there's no turning back. You choose à la carte – the story ends, you wake up in your bed full of tagliatelle and believe whatever you want to believe. You choose the tasting menu – you stay in Wonderland and we show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.
From the affordable to the eye-watering, here's our pick of the best tasting menus in London.
London's best tasting menus: £60 and under
56 Dalston Lane, E8 3AH
Dalston newcomer Angelina combines elements of Italian and Japanese cuisine for an affordable five plate tasting menu that won't leave you feeling uncomfortably full. Dishes like unagi risotto, burnt soy butter and dashi are bursting with umami flavour. Think of this like baby's first tasting menu – a delicious and unpretentious gateway into the world of fine-dining.
£38 per person, additional £35 for wine pairing. angelina.london
The Frog Hoxton
45-47 Hoxton Square, N1 6PD
If you're looking to enjoy a tasting menu where you're actively encouraged to eat with your hands, you could do a hell of a lot worse than The Frog Hoxton. Start with a range of finger-friendly snacks before working your way through a spread of plates including crispy duck pancake, Sutton Hoo chicken, and a plump cheese doughnut. Come for a casual eating environment that still maintains that sense of refinement you want went plopping down your pounds. Desserts with names like 'Milk, milk and more milk' sum up the fun ethos.
£60 per person, additional £60 for wine pairing; thefroghoxton.com
383 King's Road, SW10 0L
Getting value for money in Chelsea isn't always easy. Thankfully, Chicama is a restaurant that offers a relatively thrifty menu inspired the coastal food of Peru and the bold flavours of the region. Traditional Peruvian cuisine is available in the form of sea bass ceviche in soy tiger's milk alongside slightly more exuberant offerings like tapioca marshmallow with ocopa sauce. Bow Chicama-wow-wow.
£45 per person; chicamalondon.com
30 St Cross Street, EC1N 8UH
Located just off Cross Street in Farringdon, Anglo is a restaurant where you can more than get your fill of quality modern British cooking. Chef Mark Jarvis's menu provides a pleasant country ramble through excellent local produce: Jersey Royals with smoked salmon and lemon; Tamworth pork with sage and onion, stone bass with cauliflower and leek. Anglo is sleek and simple, described by Grace Dent as "Noma, if it was born and raised in Norwich".
£65 per person, additional £50 for wine pairing; anglorestaurant.com
1-3 Green Lanes, N16 9BS
Anywhere with a dinner menu that changes with the seasons is obviously doing something right by us. By placing such a refined focus on seasonal (and quality) produce, Perilla ensures that every instance dining there is turned into a memorable experience. Modern European is the predominant vibe though the food is far from fusty. Ingredients sing to their heart's content on every inventive plate. Gurnard fried in beef fat and served with chip shop curry sauce being but one example of that inventiveness in full-force. Hell, even if the menu consisted of nothing but five rounds of Perilla's homemade seaweed sourdough, we'd leave pretty happy customers. For under £50 a head it's also an absolute bargain.
£44 per person, additional £36 for wine pairing; perilladining.co.uk
Pied a Terre
34 Charlotte Street, W1T 2NH
DISCLAIMER #1: Pied a Terre's tasting menus can cost upwards of £100. DISCLAIMER #2: They're all ridiculously excellent. DISCLAIMER #3: The flexible lunch menu might be the most cost-efficient way of delving into Michelin-standard cooking in London. Available as either a six course tasting menu (with a choice of dishes such as Scottish beef onglet or Cornish cod) or a three course version with half a bottle of wine, coffee and petis fours – you won't find it easy making up your mind. Both options also start with a selection of canapés and unlimited freshly baked breads. Just in case you needed any more convincing.
£60 per person; pied-a-terre.co.uk
The Laughing Heart
277 Hackney Road, E2 8NA
Despite the name, eating at The Laughing Heart is no laughing matter. With head chef Tom Anglesea in the kitchen, you can expect nothing less than serious food cooked seriously well at this Hackney haunt. The 'carte blanche' dining option will give you an arsenal of ten or so sharing dishes that change on the daily. Letting Anglesea choose from a selection of bar-setters such as Orkney scallops and contemporary fusion creations like Sichuan crème brûlée is like letting a handsome lion loose at the zoo: gorgeous chaos.
£39 per person; thelaughingheartlondon.com
15 The Pavement, SW4 0HY
There's more to Clapham than prams and hairdressers. Robin Gill's The Dairy is a forward-thinking eatery that doesn't let its focus on seasonal ingredients get in the way of delivering spadefuls of flavour. The tasty tasting menu here is light, refreshing and usually involves some sort of bone marrow. God, we're suckers for a bit of bone marrow.
£48 per person; the-dairy.co.uk
31 King Street, WC2E 8JD
The tasting menu at The Petersham is a real homely affair. We don't mean that it's the sort of food that your mum and dad could easily whip for a weekday dinner – far from it, in fact: it's more so that all the dishes at The Petersham contain a shared sense of care. Family-owned Haye Farm supply poultry, eggs and organic fruit and vegetables to all Petersham Nurseries restaurants (the Petersham included). The seasonal menu here is a great way to see what simple ingredients can do when given room to shine.
£60 per person, additional £50 for wine pairing; petershamnurseries.com
32 Southwark Street, London Bridge, SE1 1TU
Look, we won't mess around here. If you're after a tasting menu or chef's table that'll knock your socks off, Native's new offering is probably one for you. The London Bridge restaurant is already a favourite because of its inventive celebration of wild food. But book yourself onto the new chef's table, and you won't be sat amongst other mere mortals in the main restaurant; instead you'll eat your meal at a gorgeously decorated table just inside the kitchen, where you can see all the action take place. As you'd expect from such an establishment the menu changes frequently to match the produce, but on our visit we feasted on Native's trademark zero–waste snacks of lean and flavoursome squirrel pasty with piccalilli; cod toast with rhubarb ketchup; and wild garlic and nettle borek with labneh. We then moved onto a beautifully presented Cornish scallop with wild garlic and bacon dashi; Dorset brown crab; and Cornish cod, served with sea kale from seasalter and a velvety, umami-laden miso sauce. Mmmmhm. As for meaty bits, oh-so-delicate lardo came draped over Wye Valley asparagus; a mouthful of perfect duck came with sweet fresh peas; and 54-day-aged rump steak was lifted by wild garlic and pickled walnut. Tasting menu? Done.
£60 per person, additional £40 for wine pairing. eatnative.co.uk
London's best tasting menus: £60-£120
Frog by Adam Handling
34-35 Southampton Street, WC2E 7HG
Adam Handling's flagship restaurant delivers just about everything you'd want from a restaurant in the taste department, and it also does bang-up job when it comes to sustainability, too. Many of the ingredients used are grown at the restaurant's partner farm in West Sussex to create the restaurant's two tasting menus. The more luxurious of the two is Adam's Tasting Menu – it's a well-oiled menu that's strewn with tantalising plates. Spare descriptions like 'scallops, oyster, caviar' and 'duck, sausage, foie gras' are more than enough to get our engines revving.
£95 per person, additional £75 for wine pairing; frogbyadamhandling.com
74 Charlotte Street, W1T 4QH
The six-course tasting menu at Mere is one that's designed to be enjoyed by the entire table. Chef proprietor Monica Galetti's restaurant serves up the standard bearers of French fine-dining with an additional twang of South Pacific flavours. Expect elegant plates and equally elegant food balanced on top of those plates. Everything here might be pretty as a peach but don't get ahead of yourself and start eating the crockery. Speaking from personal experience, the food is much, much tastier.
£77 per person, additional £56 for wine pairing; mere-restaurant.com
3 South Place, EC2M 2AF
Who'd have thought you'd be able to find great seafood swimming on the top floor South Place Hotel in Moorgate? Anyone who's ever been to Angler, that's who. With a range of seafood caught fresh from British waters, Angler specialises in grilling, roasting and sautéing just about anything with gills. The tasting menu (available Monday-Saturday) is Michelin-starred for good reason and a pleasant reminder that tinned crab really is the runt of the litter when it comes to crustacean consumption. Get it fresh. Make it Angler.
£100 per person; anglerrestaurant.com
Ametsa with Arzak Instruction
5-6 Halkin Street, SW1X 7DJ
Daughter and father duo Elena Arzak and Juan Mari Arzak are the people responsible for COMO The Halkin's Belgravia-based banger of a restaurant. The menu – which takes cues from the pair's Arzak restaurant in the Basque Country – is a showcase of new Basque cuisine you won't find at many (if any) other places in London. Mythical sounding dishes like Esfera de Txangurro ('Sphere of Txangurro') and Huevo en la Luna ('Egg on the Moon') are simultaneously traditional, modern and not to be missed. Going for the full shebang with wines specially paired by Ametsa's sommelier makes for an evening worth having in the memory bank.
£115 per person, additional £55 for wine pairing; comohotels.com
1 St. James's Market, SW1Y 4AH
There is no à la carte menu at Ikoyi. There does not need to be an à la carte menu at Ikoyi. If you've ever had the tasting menu at Ikoyi, you will quickly understand why. Smoked jollof rice, overripe plantain and rhubarb, aged beef and carrot maafe: a West African influence (and generous smack of scotch bonnets) can be found scattered throughout all of the dishes on offer. The end result for guests is that eating at Ikoyi is easily one of the most exciting dining experiences in the city. Get yourself to St James for a meal you won't forget anytime soon.
£75 per person, additional £50 for wine pairing. Extended menu is £100 per person, additional £60 for wine pairing; ikoyilondon.com
Galvin La Chapelle
35 Spital Square, E1 6DY
La Chapelle is the third restaurant from brothers Chris and Jeff Galvin. Having already achieved notable success with Galvin at Windows and Galvin Bistrot de Luxe, the two really proved that third time was also the charm when La Chapelle opened its swish doors back in 2009. The swanky restaurant serves French food as it was intended; decorated with heaps of care, panache and just the right amount of arrogance. The seven course 'Gourmand' menu is our favoured way to induce a luxury food coma. The menu obviously varies on the availability of seasonal produce (because, again, they're doing it right here), so forgive us for teasing you just a smidge here by uttering perhaps the four sexiest words in the English language: Lasagne of Dorset crab. Offt.
£85 per person; galvinrestaurants.com
85 Piccadilly, W1J 7NB
HIDE is a restaurant and bar collaboration between Hedonism Wines and Ollie Dabbous. Dabbous closed his eponymous restaurant Dabbous to open HIDE back in 2017. Which is, y'know, a pretty ballsy move. But it doesn't look like it's a decision that Dabbous regrets one iota. From six to nine courses with a choice between different dishes within, the tasting at HIDE is the ultimate excuse for indulgence. Glazed veal sweetbread and gently cooked foie gras bring home that hedonistic atmosphere in the tastiest way possible. £115 per person.
Additional wine pairing is available in three prices: Classic (£95), Iconic (£250) and Hedonistic (£495); hide.co.uk
1A Launceston Place, W8 5RL
It doesn't get much more Kensington than a Michelin-starred restaurant nestled inside of an old school townhouse, does it? And trust us when we tell that dining doesn't get much more classic than a meal at Launceston Place. This is the just the sort of restaurant that American tourists imagine when you mention that the United Kingdom does, in fact, have a fine-dining scene outside of fish and chips. Awarded three AA Rosettes in 2019, Launceston Place has more than earned its reputation as one of the city's finest premises. It's also probably the only restaurant in the city that includes egg and soldiers on its tasting menu. A fact which garners nothing but respect from us.
£85 per person, additional £64 for wine pairing; launcestonplace-restaurant.co.uk
10 Lincoln Street, SW3 2TS
Rohit Ghai is our kind of guy. His restaurant, Kutir, is our kind of restaurant. Indulge in Kutir's signature Expedition tasting menu for a proper regional and seasonal cuisine-based tour of the Indian subcontinent. Flavours of fenugreek, tomato, and Kashmiri chilli are incorporated beautifully into an aromatic chicken tikka masala that would put any East End curry house to shame. Dill raita and pickle accompany a tandoori hind of salmon to wallop every one of your taste receptors all at once. This is an excellent feast you'll want to share with equally excellent company.
£65 per person, additional £50 for wine pairing; kutir.co.uk
5-7 Blandford Street, W1U 3DB
Foraging and feeding is the name of the game at Simon Rogan's Roganic. The Marylebone restaurant is an innovative outlet that gathers its produce from some of the best suppliers around the country, including Rogan's 'Our Farm' in The Lake District. Digging into the tasting menu at Roganic is the equivalent of you sending your stomach out to sell the family cow and it coming back with a handful of magic beans. By which we mean it's a fairy tale come true to life. Rogan's L'Enclume might have all the stars to its name, but Roganic still delivers a pretty star-studded eating experience.
£85 per person, additional £65 for wine pairing; roganic.uk
Pollen Street Social
8-10 Pollen Street, W1S 1NQ
Just as alliteration is an aim of ours, provenance is important to Pollen Street Social. Jason Atherton's restaurant is a place for the high-rollers of the world to find out why produce is such a key detail to making a meal. From Colchester crab to Buccleuch beef, each ingredient is carefully sourced and thought over to ensure it makes for the best eating possible. PSS's tasting menu doesn't just play it safe, either: creative dishes such as Jersey rock oyster ice cream with oyster leaf will seduce and challenge your palate in the best way possible.
£105 per person, additional £91 for the 'Classic' wine flight, £160 for the 'Fine' option and £253 for the 'Iconic'; pollenstreetsocial.com
Core by Clare Smyth
92 Kensington Park Road, W11 2PN
"Corr" is definitely the sort of exclamation you'll make after ordering the tasting menu at Core by Clare Smyth. Simply named dishes like 'Lamb carrot' and 'Duck and red grapes' deliver a flavour profile so complex you'll want to ask them about their relationship with their parents. The team at Core pride themselves on professional and perfection – an ethos that shines through in the food. Notting Hill's never been the same since Clare Smyth came to town.
£115 per person, additional £105 for wine pairing; corebyclaresmyth.com
16 Albemarle Street, W1S 4HW
Progressive plates of meetha achaar pork ribs; divine dishes of tandoori scottish salmon: the food at Indian Accent is the kind we could wax lyrical about all the livelong day. The seven-course tasting menu is one of the best ways to taste everything that chef Manish Mehrotra has got to offer. If Mehrotra could serve his blood, sweat and tears on a plate for guests to consume, we're pretty sure it'd be on the menu. Seeing as the Food Standards Agency would likely have a lot to say about that, you'll have to sate yourself with baked sea bass in amritsari masala butter instead.
£85 per person, additional £75 for wine pairing; indianaccent.com
70 Wilton Road, SW1V 1DE
Dining in Victoria and the surrounding area doesn't get better than A.Wong, really. The 'Taste of China' menu delivers just that: a selection of dishes that showcase the plethora of flavours that exist across the country's kitchens. Delicacies such as Chengdu street tofu, Yunnan seared beef, and Zhou dynasty cured scallop are all introductions to regional Chinese cuisine that will have you booking the next flight available.
£95 per person; awong.co.uk
La Dame de Pic
10 Trinity Square, London EC3N 4AJ
Comfortably perched inside the Four Seasons hotel, La Dame de Pic is the epitome of French sophistication. Chef Annie-Sophie Pic's food was deemed worthy of a star by Michelin in its 2018 and 2019 guides. There's obviously more to life (and eating) than Michelin, but we're confident that the tyre barons have got it right when it comes to La Dame de Pic. Order the tasting menu for an assault of French cuisine classics given a 2019 mambo. Chicken poached in Vin Jaune and wholegrain mustard is unlike any Coq au vin you've ever known. Pasta berlingots with St Cera cheese are an utterly adult and utterly gorgeous rendition on the humble bon bon. Come for a treat and leave feeling treated.
£115 per person, additional £85 for wine pairing; ladamedepiclondon.co.uk
London's best tasting menus: £120 or more
9 Conduit Street, W1S 2XG
Yes, Sketch is really, really ridiculously good-looking, but the West London Instagram darling isn't just about the aesthetic. Far from it, in fact: Sketch has got more than enough substance to match its style. The descriptions of the dishes on the tasting menu are frankly poetry to read: slices of Pyrenean milk lamb marinated in kefir; chablis-poached Scottish salmon glazed with nettle velouté. Sketch serves the sort of food that would make Keats swoon into oblivion, and just the sort of food that's worth spending your hard-earned ducats on.
£120 per person; sketch.london
301-303 Chiswick High Road, W4 4HH
Having held onto its Michelin star since 2013, Hedone is an all-star on the London dining scene. A shining example of how to turn a restaurant into an event, an occasion and a cause for an edible celebration. The menu is never fixed and – for that reason – Hedone doesn't include one on its website. A deep dive on those that have dined at Hedone and tagged it on their Instagram, however, reveals mouth-watering morsels such as scrambled duck egg blanketed in a rug of truffles and tuna and sea urchin toast. You won't know exactly what to expect when eating at Hedone. Apart from one of the best damn meals of your life, that is.
£105 per person; hedonerestaurant.com
17 Bruton Street, W1J 6QB
When Fredo rapped "my bitch wants to go out to Hakkasan" – we felt that. Not because we condone his misogyny (in fact, we actually condemn it) – but we related to Fredo's lyricism because, deep down in the recesses of our soul, we know that we are all that bitch. And that there's never a time where we don't want to go out to Hakkasan. The high-end Mayfair restaurant is one of the most consistent purveyors of excellent Cantonese cuisine in the city. The signature menus at Hakkasan are all curated by Executive Head Chef Tong Chee Hwee and his team. Peking duck with Prunier caviar? Wok-fried Tristan lobster with black truffle sauce? Mongolian style lamb chop? Yeah, we're all about that.
£120 per person; hakkasan.com
199 Tooley Street, SE1 2JX
Bear with us for this one. Story is a tad conceptual. If you'll allow us pun a little, it's a restaurant that could even be described as 'novel'. Here's what the foreword on its website says: "As a guest at Story, you will not be presented with a menu on arrival. We will build your meal around your preferences and will typically include a mixture of Story classic dishes alongside new and seasonally inspired creations." Going into Story involves putting your trust in Tom Sellers' capable hands and allowing him to weave you a lovely edible narrative.
£145 per person; restaurantstory.co.uk
9 Waterloo Place, SW1Y 4BE
Fancy yourself a bit of a high-roller, do you? Want to spend lots of money on a menu that's got words like caviar and wagyu all over it? Well, Mr Big Stuff, it's high time you got yourself to Imperial Treasure in St James for some wagyu beef rolls and mounds of caviar. Finesse is the name of the game here and while Imperial Treasure might be very conscious about the overwhelming fine-dining-ness of itself, the food is still excellent. Expensive, yes. But excellent nonetheless.
£128 per person; imperialtreasure.com
127 Ledbury Road, W11 2AQ
Jermaine and Murray might be nowhere to be seen but chef Brett's influence is very much present at The Ledbury. Brett Graham (actually Australian) delivers a real flight of culinary delight to Notting Hill diners; two Michelin star dining that's far from stuffy and stuffed with bold flavour. The Ledbury's whopping tasting menu is a real who's who list of 'things of we like to eat'. Chantilly of oyster with sea bream tartare and frozen English wasabi is a 'thing we like to eat'. White beetroot baked in clay with caviar salt and smoked eel is a 'thing we like to eat'. Everything at The Ledbury is massively eat-able and worth every hard-earned penny.
£150 per person, additional £110 for wine pairing; theledbury.com
43 Upper Brook Street, W1K 7QR
Michel Roux Jr is one of those rare chefs: someone still very much at the top of his game, while still being someone your mother has actually heard of. You'll be pleased to hear that Roux's mainstream success on the box hasn't had a dampener on the food served at his hugely successful Le Gavroche. The first UK restaurant to be awarded one, two, and then three fat Michelin stars, Le Gavroche – and its tasting menu – is still very much worth your attention. Go for a crash course in the French classics (soufflé suissesse, boudin noir) and a wine pairing that's been meticulously thought through. Menu Exceptionnel? Mais oui!
£178 per person, additional £100 for wine pairing; le-gavroche.co.uk
Restaurant Gordon Ramsay
68 Royal Hospital Road, SW3 4HP
Established in 1998, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay is a grizzled vet of a restaurant: a place that's been around the block once or twice and knows its shit. It also knows that it's food isn't. The 'Seasonal Inspiration' menu takes smoked eel to the next level; ushers sorbet to the other side of the tracks; pelts asparagus into a simply different stratosphere. Regardless of what you think about Gordon Ramsay, it's hard to deny that his bonny restaurant is very much a Kitchen Dream. Go in with high expectations and you'll have them matched.
£185 per person; gordonramsayrestaurants.com
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
66 Knightsbridge, W1X 7LA
'Meat Fruit', 'Spicy Ice Cream', 'Rice & Flesh'. I'm going to let you in on a little secret: I made one of those up. The beauty about the Chef's Table at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal is that you could think of pretty much any fantastic food wizardry and it wouldn't seem out of place on the restaurant's innovative menu. The bespoke menu, created by Chef Director Ashley Palmer-Watts, is a tour through the history of food itself with recipes inspired by cookbooks from as far back as the 14th century. Eating dinner at Dinner does more than just sate a physical hunger: it scratches an intellectual itch and culinary curiosity like nothing else.
£165 or £225 per person; dinnerbyheston.co.uk
Claude Bosi at Bibendum
Michelin House, 81 Fulham Road, SW3 6RD
The 'Surprise Tasting' menu at Bibendum is... drum roll, please... a surprise. What's unsurprising is how bloody great it is. Intriguing dishes like 'My mum's tripe and cuttlefish gratin' will give your mind and mouth something to mull over while more traditional fine-dining accoutrements like hand-dived scallops are just plain old delicious.
£120 person, additional £85 for wine pairing; bibendum.co.uk
Hélène Darroze at the Connaught
Carlos Place, W1K 2AL
What's better than one-Michelin-starred dining? Well, according to that fat rubber bastard Bibendum, it's two-Michelin-starred dining. Hélène Darroze's eponymous restaurant is somewhere where that distinction almost becomes obvious. It's that good. Seeing as chef's tables have all been done before – far too blasé now, darling – you're invited at The Connaught to dine at a very special 'Sommelier's Table' instead. Taking place in the hotel's atmospheric limestone wine cellar, guests are assaulted with wonderful wines hand-selected by the restaurant's sommelier which are then paired with exquisite dishes from Hélène Darroze. Not one for the teetotallers, but an absolute dream for the budding Bacchuses out there.
£150 per person; the-connaught.co.uk