At this time of year, there are days when nothing will do but cosying up in a nook and hunkering down on a hot plate of bang-in-season food with a juicy glass of red (or two). Always hungry for eating up the best of what the capital has to offer, we couldn’t resist sharing our top London pubs and restaurants to hang out in, get warm, and get fed – places run by people who share our belief in championing small producers, local farms and the provenance behind their dishes, whilst enjoying a darned good eatings.
1. The Dairy, Clapham
With a sourcing philosophy that makes us swoon, the Dairy knows how to do British seasonal eating at its unpretentious finest. The bar and bistro’s reclaimed interior is home to chef Robin Gill’s (Noma and Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons alumni) sumptuous small plates and hail from ‘sea’, ‘land’ and ‘garden’ – their actual rooftop garden of herbs and vegetables and their own beehives. The changing seasons and honest flavours of quality ingredients are championed, inspiring dishes such as ‘delicia pumpkin, toasted seeds and almond milk’ and ‘charred English leeks, smoked yolk, chestnut’.
Alice, Buyer, says: “The in-house baked bread is amazing and their tasting menus are really imaginative, varied and reasonable too.”
Alice, Team Chef, says: “The menu is clever without trying too hard. I love it’s sharing plates that don’t have too much dairy (despite the name!).”
(Our team really love it here.)
The Dairy, 15 The Pavement, Clapham Oldtown, London, SW4 0HY
2. The Harwood Arms, Fulham
Have you paid a visit to London’s first and only pub to hold a Michelin star? Nestled in the backstreets of Fulham, its setting might be casual and relaxed but the industrious team are serious about sustainable provenance. Brought to you by chef Brett Graham of Notting Hill’s acclaimed The Ledbury, chef Mike Robinson behind The Pot Kiln pub in Berkshire (heralded as the ‘home of field to plate food’), and Edwin Vaux of the famed Vaux Brewery, together they champion the best in British produce with a focus on game and wild food. There’s also a rooftop garden providing vegetables and salads from which Head chef Sally brings her experience at Claridges, The Ledbury and Elystan to comforting heights in cauliflower croquettes, game scotch eggs, venison brawn, lemon curd doughnuts and Michelin star roasts. Haunch of fallow Berkshire deer anyone?
Rosanna, Marketing Assistant says: “I really recommend it – it’s serious food with provenance but it genuinely still feels like a warm and friendly pub. Word of warning, book ahead for the roast!”
The Harwood Arms, Walham Grove, London, SW6 1QP
3. The Smokehouse, Islington
Coined one of London’s best smokehouse restaurants by the Evening Standard, chef Neil Rankin (formerly of fellow smoky stalwart Pitt Cue) has nailed the art of rich and punchy flavour with a tenderness that simply can’t come about from relying on big ol’ smoke to do all the legwork. It’s certainly not all meat and grease at The Smokehouse. A beautiful boozer that’s cosily lit by candlelight indoors and fairy lights in a secluded garden outdoors, blackboards hanging from simply decorated walls proudly display the restaurant’s transparent sourcing philosophy (nestled next to a specials bursting with excellent coal-grilled prime cuts and slow cooked specialities). Serving up information on the sourcing and farms behind their meat, fish, and fruit and vegetables alongside the sustainable English oak that goes into their smokers, quality and provenance reign supreme whilst delivering on deliciousness. Also, anywhere with a ‘This week we’re butchering’ board wins our hearts.
Julien, Head of Marketing, says: “All the food is really good! It’s well sourced with a fantastic charcuterie board and cosy dining room.”
The Smokehouse, 63–69 Canonbury Rd, Islington, London, N1 2DG
4. The Marksman, Bethnal Green
This East-End boozer (yes, it really still is a pub with a bar, extremely local beers on tap, and wood-clad walls), hit headlines for making it’s mark (sorry) as Michelin’s pub of the year 2017. Having already established itself with locals as a haven for excellent execution in British fare since its refurbishment in 2015 by two former St John chefs, Tom Harris and Jon Rotheram, the inspectors said they enjoyed the “devilled mussels on toast, skate with shrimps and turnip tops, and pheasant and trotter pie – all carefully cooked, perfectly balanced and full of flavour”. Inspired by the rich and diverse culinary history of London, its menu focuses on the best of British seasonal produce and the devil is in the detail. Dive into horseradish cream, homemade relish, and ‘fried potatoes’ – a heavenly mash up of fondant potato meets giant triple-cooked chips. Or book the gang into a seasonal feast in their recently opened private dining room.
Lizzie, Recipe Developer, says: “Love their spot-on snappy service and incredible, honest, no-faff food. It’s the perfect place for a Sunday roast.”
The Marksman, 254 Hackney Road, London, E2 7SJ
5. The Three Stags, Kennington
Just over the road the Imperial War Museum, this classic Victorian high-windowed pub is a founding member of the Sustainable Restaurant Association. The proprietors are passionate about provenance and the sustainability of people as well as the environment – the roof is home to a beehive surrounded by pots of herbs and proceeds from the sale of their raw unfiltered ‘Lambeth realness in a jar’ honey are donated to a children’s sanctuary project in Bali. The pub lists the suppliers of their Welsh lamb, line caught fish, free-range meats and homegrown fruit and vegetables and all scraps are composted.
Susan, Content Manager, says: “Camp out in the glass-walled corner booth ‘Chaplin Corner’ and while away the hours over a sharing slow roasted whole shoulder of lamb.”
The Three Stags, 67-69 Kennington Rd, Lambeth, London SE1 7PZ
6. The Pear Tree, Fulham
Off the beaten track and tucked away behind Charing Cross Hospital, this quintessential neighboured Victorian pub ramps up the comfort factor with its tartan throws and open fire. The menu changes constantly depending on the ingredients available from a local market, resulting in classic British gastropub dishes happily reliant on what’s in season. An oasis of comfort in one of the oldest buildings in the area, the pub is complete with booth-style benches, candlelight in the evening and a pear-tree shaded garden.
Myles, Senior Developer, says: “Cozy atmosphere, good food and tucked away from the high street so it’s less busy.”
The Pear Tree, 14 Margravine Road, Hammersmith, London, W6 8HJ
7. Franklin’s, East Dulwich
Franklin’s occupies a neat corner spot of a converted boozer on Lordship Lane and takes the provenance of its produce seriously. The restaurant is run in partnership with actor and celebrity Masterchef finalist Neil Stuke who owns the farm shop of the same name opposite. His father worked his way up from the Army Catering Corps to the Savoy as a chef, and opened his own restaurant in Sussex where Stuke worked his first job. With a menu of seasonal British dishes made with fruit, vegetables, meat, milk and cheeses sourced from named Kent farms and the same small specialist producers that stock the farm shop, Neil says: “I believe in small producers, provenance, zero air miles, no packaging..I’m about small local shops, anti-supermarket, so [having the shop] it was an emotional thing.” We’re right with you there, Neil.
Gem, Head of Operations, says: “A great local spot for a proper British seasonal supper.”
Franklins, 157 Lordship Lane, London, SE22, 8HX
Fancy some more? Meet the ethical restaurants backing better food and farming and bars pushing zero-waste boundaries.
This article originally appeared on the Farmdrop blog in November 2016 and has been updated.