The Ten Best Secluded Gardens for Dining Out in London
Originally purchased by the Baglioni family, whose private home with a sensational garden is next door, in order to prevent the garden centre being closed and redeveloped, this is one of the most stylish gardens in London. You may even spot Mick Jagger, a good friend of the Baglioni’s, dining here trying to be incognito.
The garden makes for a bucolic private party as it can be hired out in its entirety. The menu is rigorously seasonal, currently offering enticing high summer dishes such as burrata with pickled cherries, chilli, nasturtium, hazelnuts & rose sumac, Portland crab with Amalfi lemon or Dover sole with agretti and capers. All of which can be savoured whilst admiring the bougainvillea growing up the glasshouses (there are tables both outside and within the plant-filled restored Victorian structures plus a cossetting, heated pergola).
There’s also afternoon tea from Friday to Sunday featuring orange, polenta and Petersham olive oil cake with mascarpone and lemon thyme and pea, broad bean and garden mint tartlet alongside the scones.
For an ultra-contemporary and sophisticated garden experience, visit the seventh floor of The Stratford hotel for a very special farm-to-table restaurant called Allegra after owner Harry Handelsmann’s daughter. It is run by former Chiltern Firehouse chef Patrick Powell whose cooking is superb: intensely seasonal, creative with consummate classic technique and served on the terrace on balmy days.
Ordering pistachio choux buns with liver parfait and gooseberry as appetisers is sacrosanct. Dishes such as Cornish mackerel, sauce bouillabaisse, croutons and aioli; turbot, smoked bacon pain perdu, pickled wild garlic and cured pork cheese, rib eye of grass-fed beef, horseradish, beef fat & beef tomato tart; and chocolate tart with pickled blackcurrants and blackcurrant leaf ice-cream wear their culinary complexity lightly. The sheltered timbered roof gardens have sculptural planters, an elevated meadow of wildflowers and cedar wood benches.
Inspired by traditional English country gardens, Stanley’s is a hidden haven off King’s Road close to the Chelsea Gardener. Though it is strictly more terrace than garden, the planting is sumptuous rather than merely incidental and a clever circular arrangement of booths divided by timbered panels gives a real sense of privacy.
Chef Olivia Potts, formerly at Simon Rogan’s Claridges restaurant, is a definite draw and her delicate, technically astute dishes including the wildly popular Cornish crab and potted shrimp crumpet, halibut with tarragon emulsion. They are strewn with flowers that complement the ingredients rather than act as gratuitous garnish. If it is on the menu, do order the ambrosial poached plums with whipped brown sugar custard tart.
With its wicker chairs, black and white striped sofas and beautiful greenery, the secluded courtyard of Chiltern Firehouse is a glamorous al fresco destination enhanced by the presence of a stylish oyster dispensing truck. Food is respectfully ingredient-led with an American accent.
There’s a notably enticing choice of vegetarian choices including wood-fired aubergine with sancho pepper miso; ricotta gnudi, raw and grilled courgettes, citrus zest and walnut-mint pesto; citrus marinated and grilled daily catch fish with seaweed, trout roe and lemon butter sauce plus a fragrant twelve-herb salad.
The Goring Hotel Garden
A discreet, serene sanctuary right in the heart of Belgravia, the Goring Garden is an exquisite floral oasis where time seems to stand still. Head to the Dell at the bottom of the garden for pre-prandial drinks among the greenery.
From the bar menu, choose beef short rib croquettes with horseradish mayo, a proper Caesar’s salad with lobster, a fine sample of charcuterie or cheese and a cocktail inspired by a far-off destination to yearn after.
Native at Browns
Imogen Davis and Ivor Tisdall Davies, co-founders of Native are daring in their commitment to ultra-ethical dining. Their restaurant has now relocated to within Brown’s Georgian Brook Street fashion flagship, with head chef John Knowlton from Hide running the pass.
The menu offers thrilling zero-waste dishes: fermented potato waffle with mushroom parfait and ethereal fermented onion puree and fish fillet in brioche with seaweed tartare and crab rarebit, a umami rich, multi textured flavour bomb.
For dessert try their ‘marrowmel’ white chocolate and bone marrow. The vividly and abundantly planted courtyard with an extensive pergola providing cover from inclement weather is a gem and provides plenty of inspiration for those with a townhouse-sized garden.
Pantechnicon: Eldr Roof Garden
Inspired by the design cultures of Japan and Scandinavia, this stunning gastro-emporium with exceptional Japanese restaurant Sanshi in its basement, Cafe Kitsune serving Japanese/French patisserie and Nordic Ekte, has a roof garden serving botanical cocktails. They're inspired by Nordic ingredients, including a Seaweed Martini, and it serves snacks with incredible fennel bread and lingonberry butter including tomato, peach and cured pork smorrebrod and cedar plank trout with dill and beetroot.
There’s also a tastefully planted courtyard garden behind the main building, completely hidden from the street, with deckchairs and a Scandi kiosk bar serving up Japanese cocktails, beers and sake.
Surely the grandest restaurant garden of them all. The Ritz has a formally planted terrace leading out of its exquisite dining room with such splendid views over Green Park that it seems like an extension of the terrace. Executive chef John Williams MBE, an Escoffier devotee with a modern outlook, has an incredible reputation for training up brilliant chefs-in-the-making.
His present young head chef won the Roux Scholarship and spent his stage at Stockholm’s thrilling Frantzen restaurant. Ballotine of duck liver, peach and hazelnut, Cornish halibut with razor clams, mussels and grapes, and, at The Ritz one has to finish with a seasonal souffle. Choose a sunny day for lunch, and this may seem like an earthly Garden of Eden.
Rosehip and Rye pop-up in Highgate Woods
Catch it if you can. For the next two Tuesdays 10am-4pm until 31 August, Russian caterers Rosehip and Rye have created what’s billed as a “pop-up dacha” and it is truly convincing with a large wooden veranda for dining with bucolic, forest bathing like views across Highgate Woods. Try spiced fritters, oladushki made with new season corn, and badrijani, Georgian aubergine rolls.
Rathfinny Estate pop-up at The Refuel Terrace, Soho Hotel
Almost as fleeting a treat is Rathfinny Estate’s pop-up at the exceptionally stylish Refuel Terrace at The Soho Hotel where the planters are as gloriously bold and beautiful as owner Kit Kemp’s interior schemes. There’s Rathfinny Rose with Mangalitsa ham, peaches and thyme; Rathfinny Blanc de Noir with grilled lamb cutlets, black olive glaze, apple and tarragon relish and masterclasses too.
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