Jun. 28th, 2010

London's Best Alfresco Restaurants

City Guides: Here are Bon Vivant's suggestions for London's best alfresco dining options.

River Café, Hammersmith
Widely regarded as London's best Italian restaurant with great pedigree in the kitchen that has produced many successful alumni and imitations, the River Café, with its minimalist, sleek design and light colour scheme that blend effortlessly with the riverside setting, creates an unforgettable dining experience.

Odette's, Primrose Hill, NW1
Odette's has been a Primrose Hill institution for decades, but is now under the reign of Bryn Williams, winner of the Great British Menu television series. The mood is dark and seductive in the downstairs restaurant and the tables that open out on to the streets of Primrose Hill are ideal for an alfresco lunch.

The Ledbury, Notting Hill
The Ledbury, with its Notting Hill location and neighbourhood restaurant feel, had been quietly making its mark on London's dining scene until its second Michelin star catapulted it into the mainstream earlier this year. As expected, Brett Graham's cooking is now in huge demand, but as the terrace does not accept reservations, it's a great way to skip the long wait list and try one of London's best restaurants whilst enjoying the sun.

The Albion, Islington
The Albion is a traditional English country pub in the heart of London, with the main attraction being its garden. The French windows in the restaurant area open onto a terrace of over 450 sq metres, which can seat over 120 people for dining and drinking surrounded by herb beds, fruit trees and an original Georgian walled garden. In the summer months, the outdoor barbeque is a real draw, as well as the whole roast suckling pig for 10 to share.
The Engineer, Primrose Hill
A Primrose Hill institution, the Engineer can do little wrong for the regulars who flock there for favourites such as miso-marinated sea bass with bok choi. Despite the ample dining space, the bar area is on the small side, but there is respite in the form of a back garden, which is an ideal spot for long summer lunches.

Tom's Terrace at Somerset House
The River Terrace Cafe at Somerset House has been taken over by Tom Aikens for the summer, with an informal menu, including mini burgers and triple cooked chips, to accompany the evening drinks and splendid views of the Thames. The Admiralty Restaurant will also be transformed into Tom's Kitchen at Somerset House, serving signature dishes from Tom's Kitchen in Chelsea.

Rooftop at the Boundary, Shoreditch
One of the latest venture from Prescott & Conran, the rooftop restaurant at the boundary, a 48-seat grill, has 360° views of London and includes a designer garden, a large bar, an open fireplace and luxury blankets for the chillier evenings.

Le Pont de La Tour, Tower Bridge
Le Pont de la Tour has a beautiful riverside setting from which to enjoy its modern French menu, with a focus on seafood, and vast wine list. The outside terrace is very popular in the summer as it has a superb view of Tower Bridge.

The Gun, Docklands
With a beautiful riverside setting and a large decked terrace to embrace the British summer, The Gun is one of the best dining experience in the Docklands offering a great British pub menu. In the summer, be sure to visit A Grelha at The Gun, an al fresco Portuguese BBQ of fresh fish and meats on the decked terrace.

Bleeding Heart, Clerkenwell
With a rustic look to match its location and history, the Bleeding Heart offers traditional French fare in a welcoming and intimate setting, but the real attraction in the summer is the large terrace, which brings a bit of Paris to the streets of Farringdon.

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Carol Driver
A journalist with more than 12 years' experience writing, subbing and editing at national and regional publications and websites in the UK.

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