London is a cosmopolitan city that has been at the forefront of cultural trends for centuries. London has long been celebrated for its tea and crumpets, but there are plenty of other curious and innovative culinary delights waiting to be sampled in imaginative dining rooms that are worth experiencing.
Cafe in the Crypt
If sipping coffee and snacking on pastries surrounded by tombstones in an 18th-century crypt is your idea of a good time, a visit to Cafe in the Crypt is an absolute must. Cafe in the Crypt—which is located beneath St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church—also features an art gallery, music venue, and gift shop. The music venue regularly hosts jazz and classical performances. Every dollar that patrons spend at Cafe in the Crypt helps support historic St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church. If someone in your party is a bit squeamish about taking their afternoon tea in a crypt, gently remind them that the tombs of Cafe in the Crypt have been vacant since the 1800s.
St Martin-in-the-Fields Church, Trafalgar Square, Westminster
The Churchill Arms
Dating back to 1750, The Churchill Arms is a historic pub that was once frequented by Winston Churchill’s great-grandparents. The exterior of The Churchill Arms is covered in vibrant flowers, and the interior features Winston Churchill memorabilia galore. The Churchill Arms also serves Thai food, a rarity among English pubs. About 25 years ago, the owners of The Churchill Arms decided it was time to reinvent the pub, so they decided to hire a Thai chef. Visitors can order traditional Thai dishes such as Pad Thai, curry, and spring rolls—all of which pair exceptionally well with English beer. If you’re not a fan of spicy food, there are plenty of mildly spiced options on the food menu. Spice lovers always have the option to spice their food to the max.
119 Kensington Church St,
Victoria and Albert Museum Dining Rooms
When the “Refreshment Rooms” in the South Kensington Museum—which is now known as the Victoria and Albert Museum—were first constructed in 1856, critics said that the space was “hideously ugly.” In 1868, the South Kensington Museum responded and built a new trio of “Refreshment Rooms” designed to spark public interest in the arts. The ornate trio of cafes were named after the men who designed them: The Gamble Room, the Poynter Room, and the Morris Room are the world’s oldest museum dining rooms. Visitors can sip gourmet coffee, munch on pastries, or eat a scrumptious sandwich amidst stained glass windows, stately columns, and ceilings with gold accents. After you’re done snacking, you can take a stroll through the Victoria and Albert Museum, which features a captivating collection of art from various mediums including manuscripts, costumes, and designer shoes.
Victoria and Albert Museum
London, England, SW7 2RL
Horizon Edible Insects
Horizon Edible Insects is the final frontier for adventurous eaters. Horizon Edible Insects is a farm and not a restaurant, but visitors can still take tours, cooking classes, and sample some of Horizon’s crunchy bugs. The proprietors of Horizon claim that insects are the wave of the culinary future because they’re highly nutritious, sustainable, and affordable. Edible insect enthusiasts claim that insects have a pleasing earthy flavor that is similar to mild mushrooms or nuts. After you sample some Italian bruschetta garnished with crickets, insect nuggets, and crispy chocolate mealworm cupcakes, you can decide for yourself if creepy crawlies are a viable food source. If you’re a fan of the taste and texture, you can purchase some dried crickets to add a little pizzazz to your favorite pasta dish or salad.
9 Queen Anne’s Grove
Hidden behind the Jade Door in Chinatown, Opium is a moody, mysterious cocktail lounge adorned with red curtains and maze-like decor that houses three separate bars under one roof. Visitors can order 1920s-inspired cocktails and snack on Dim Sum. The Peony Bar is intimate and candlelit, the Apothecary Bar is stocked with vintage medicine bottles, and the Academy Bar is adorned with maps. If you’re searching for a bar where you can maintain an air of mystery and sip elegant vintage cocktails in soft, low light, a visit to Opium is an absolute must.
15-16 Gerrard St,
The Courtesan is a sultry bar that serves Dim Sum and sumptuous cocktails that are infused with tea and served in elegant ceramic cups. Inspired by the craft and elegance of ancient Chinese courtesans who entertained nobles, The Courtesan celebrates the cultural and culinary contributions of women. The Courtesan’s wine and spirit list has the distinction of being the only Female Wine and Spirit List in the world—meaning that every item is either grown or produced exclusively by women. If you’re in the mood for a burlesque or cabaret performance, The Courtesan regularly hosts provocative live entertainment.
69-73 Atlantic Rd,
London SW9 8PU,
Dans Le Noir?
If you’re afraid of the dark, Dans Le Noir? is not for you. Dans Le Noir?—which means “in the dark” in French—serves food and wine in total darkness so that guests can experience a whole new level of taste perception. Guests are served a surprise menu which is in constant flux, depending on which ingredients are seasonally available. After a meal that is served by a team of “guides” in a pitch-black room, guests are debriefed with photos of the food that they have just consumed. Dans Le Noir? offers special tastings for children, students, and groups wishing to participate in team-building exercises.
69-73 St John St,
London EC1M 4NJ,
Bacchanalia is an opulent Mediterranean restaurant with a sumptuous menu and ostentatious decor that pays homage to Bacchus—the Greek god of wine and festivity. Patrons dine in a lavish dining room with marble statues of mythological figures such as Medusa and Pegasus overhead. The bulk of Bacchanalia’s menu is heavily influenced by Greek and Italian cuisine, but patrons can also order standard fine dining fare such as caviar. Needless to say, Bacchanalia has a stellar wine list that includes a House Champagne and a House Super Tuscan red. You may need Zeus to deposit some money into your bank account so that you can afford to dine at Bacchanalia, but Bacchanalia’s food is truly fit for the gods, so your meal will be worth every penny.
1-3 Mount St,