The newest al fresco spots in London
The freshest places to dine outside this summer, featuring brand new rooftops, urban terraces and leafy pub gardens
The famous Japanese restaurant brand are finally extending their London offering. The Shoreditch Nobu outpost will first and foremost be a hotel, but it will also have a hefty outdoor terrace. It will mirror the approach of the Mayfair restaurant by serving modern Japanese food, with a separate sushi bar and private dining space. The restaurant itself – within the new Nobu Hotel – will be Herculean, at 200 covers.
This classic French restaurant on a rooftop in the City refurbished their al fresco dining for summer 2017. In ode to the beauteous gardens of Paris, the rooftop terrace at Coq D'Argent features refined flower beds, and elegant seating to reflect the formal feel of the fixtures and fittings, largely using aged brass and bronze glass.
Barrafina Drury Lane
Spanish tapas giants Barrafina, popular with Londoners for their counter top dining, opened their third restaurant on Drury Lane last year. Steeped in history in the famous theatre district, the Drury Lane branch serves the group's familiar array of aperitivi, alongside small plates to share that largely focus on fresh fish.
The terrace: There's parasols and heaters, so they're weather-prepared, but with a no-reservations policy you'll be lucky to grab a table at busy times. Mon-Sat: Noon-3.00pm, 5:00-11.00pm, Sunday: 1.00-3.30pm, 5.30-10.00pm. More information
Selfridges Roof Deck
The twice-yearly rooftop reinvention at Selfridges is both clever and anticipated. Londoners can't resist to see the latest look, and since the wastED pop-up moved out, the rooftop has become an ode to Californian-inspired cuisine. Food will career from grilled meat to health-kick salads, and six resident artists will display their work as part of the simple, beach-inspired look.
The terrace: with a big retractable roof, you'll be lucky in any weather, and given that it's open all-day, there's often space without reservations. There isn't much of a view, but the feel up here, surrounded by shoppers with Selfridges bags, is truly glam. Book by emailing [email protected] Monday-Sat: 11.00am-11.00pm, Sun: 12.00-6.00pm. More information
Pergola On The Roof
Taking the rooftop formula and re-shaping it, Pergola On The Roof offers more of a formal restaurant setting for a rooftop. Four restaurants pop up on the roof, and tables are shared, but dining is sat down, with proper cutlery. The flagship is atop the ex-BBC Television Centre in White City, and there's a new-for-2017 version in Paddington. This year's traders are Patty & Bun, Salt & Sauce from Bonnie Gull, 8 Hoxton Square and Breddos Tacos.
The terrace: needs to be booked ahead of time, as it fills up, especially at weekends. The vibe is exquisite; hanging foliage dangles from pergolas, to re-create the feel of a Mediterranean vineyard. Wed-Fri: 6.00pm-11.00pm, Sat: Noon-11.00pm, Sun: Noon-9.30pm. More information
You'll need to be a member for access to this City rooftop, but at twice the size of Shoreditch House, and with the same amenities (a pool, loungers, access to great food and drink) you don't need to think long about becoming a member. Across the building there are nine restaurants, but the rooftop is proving to be most popular, and alongside the relaxation aspects (including heaters and a retractable roof) there are tables for casual dining with a view.
This pub in St John's Wood is nothing like The Ned. More approachable, and free to enter (!), The Clifton, having closed for a number of years, has been brought back to life as a fanciful gastro pub with good food. North London locals will love its generous outdoors seating, and newcomers to the area should make the trip to St John's Wood for the splendidly authentic neighbourhood feel, so close to Regent's Park. Open all day, there'll be a relaxed cafe feel with light food and coffee throughout the day, then British classics at night with Sunday Roasts too.
The terrace: The non-bookable terrace is more of a verdant beer garden in this instance, but upscale pub food out here – surrounded by nature – is one of our must-dos this summer. Mon-Fri: 10.00am-11.00pm, Sat: 10.00am-11.00pm, Sun: 10am-10.30pm. More information
Smokestak has survived the BBQ meat trend – as pioneers of it. David Carter's no-nonsense pricing (mains are all £8.50) and straightforward cuts of brisket, and pork and beef ribs, are now comfortable and familiar to the Shoreditch crowd. There's seasonal cocktails too, including a rather sensational rhubarb number for summer 2017, and thankfully an outdoor terrace has also been added, as the feel inside is a little too gloomy for the high summer months.
The terrace: There's room for 70 on the brand new sun-facing Smokestak terrace, which merges with the restaurant at glass-panelled floor-to-ceiling glass doors, which swing open in the summer to connect the moodier interior with the al fresco terrace. Mon-Sat: 12.00-3.00pm, then 5.30-11.00pm, Sun: Noon-9.00pm. More information