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It's nearly time to dine outside! Restaurants with outside dining areas in London - open from April 12. By James Pembroke

Blog | By James Pembroke | Mar 10, 2021

By Peter Trimming

Alfresco Dining On Monday, April 12th, we are allowed to eat and drink outside in groups of up to six people. There will be no early curfew nor will you have to order a substantial meal at a pub. Rural readers will know of many local pubs with beer gardens but London and other cities are short of such spaces. And tables are being booked up. So, don’t miss the biggest street party since the Silver Jubilee….. and be willing to eat mid-afternoon.

Here is a list of restaurants across London which have outdoor spaces. If you can’t get a table, head to Soho because Westminster Council has confirmed that, from April 12th, they will repeat last year’s Open Streets scheme when a total of 60 roads — including 17 in Soho alone — were transformed through temporary closures and pavement widening. Over 500 restaurants were granted pavement licences. Pedestrianised Heddon Street (off Regent Street) is also awash with terrace seating.

Central

Saint Jacques, St James’s

National Gallery Cafe

The Oystermen, Covent Garden

Petersham Nurseries, Covent Garden

Barrafina, Covent Garden

Folie, Soho

Dalloway Terrace, Bloomsbury

Bleeding Heart Yard, Holborn

Truckles of Pied Bull Yard, Holborn

Bentley’s, Mayfair

Hush, Mayfair

Scott’s Mayfgair

The Orrery, Marylebone High Street

Chiltern Farmhouse, Marylebone

The Ritz

North

Drapers Arms, Islington

Michael Nadra, Camden

Red Lion and Sun, Highgate

Smokehouse, Canonbury

South

The Berkeley, Knighstbridge

Wright Brothers, Battersea

Fiume, Battersea Power Station

Pear Tree Cafe, Battersea Park

Seabird, South Bank

Ivy Chelsea Garden

La Famiglia, Chelsea

Polpo, Chelsea

Bibendum, Chelsea

East

Bird of Smithfield

Padella, Shoreditch

Pont de la Tour, Tower Bridge

Coq D’Argent, Mansion House

West

Gold, Notting Hill

Ognisko, South Kensington

The Orangery at Number 16, South Kensington

River Cafe, Hammersmith

Sam’s Riverside, Hammersmith

Villa Geggiano, Chiswick


Soho in the Last Break between Lockdowns - James Pembroke


Prior to the era of Harvey Weinstein, ‘NSIT’ (Not Safe in Taxis) was the epithet awarded by mothers to swathes of young (and old) blades raised on Carry on Cabby. My patient wife, Josephine, has officially dubbed me NSAL (Not Safe at Lunch) due to my overflowing diary over the last four weeks. Literally tens of post-Covid escapers have shone a Fatmansearchlight into the night sky. And, lo, I have arrived at 1pm, napkin a-go-go. David from Chester even brought his friend, Piers the surgeon, for two lunches in a row; the first in my garden which morphed into a takeaway Greek mezze; the second at that temple of joy, Boisdale, with its packed post-prandial cigar terrace.

Apart from that, all my dates were concentrated on sunnier-than-ever Soho, whose table-strewn streets will remain car-free until the end of October. The Editor and I cycled down to Polpo, in Beak Street, owned by Oldie shareholder, Richard Beatty and his chef wife, Florence Knight whose new menuoffers the closest-to-the-real-thing Italian food in Soho. Then, Jim, whose Northern vowels break glass, took me to Vasco and Piero’s, the long-established and under-rated Umbrian restaurant in Poland Street. Joyous Joey from Notting Hell swigged Bloody Marys at Prix Fixe in Dean Street – a bargain set menu in the ultimate bargain menu street. Then, for my birthday, I took the Oldie sales team and art editor to YallaYalla, part of the excellent Lebanese chain, in Winsley Street, which offers a massive mezze for just £19.95 for two. We were all thrilled with the Lebanese Ksara wines at just £24.95 a bottle. Best of all, the manager let me open the bottle of 2014 Chateau Moulinet Lasserre which my lunch guests had generously given me that morning, without knowing that three bottles of the 2015 vintage of the same wine were ready my Safe Six birthday dinner. Even the Editor, who bypassed childhood due to ‘all that nonsense about fairies’, conceded the odds of two near-identical wines in the same day were in the thousands.

Josephine could take it no more, and she chose Lunch of the Month, at the Gay Hussar’s recent reincarnation, Noble Rot, in Greek Street. I was nervous, of course. Why hadn’t they incorporated the old name with the new? Would they have kept Martin Rowson’s cartoons of Labour party regulars like Michael Foot and Roy Hattersley? Richard Ingrams either had lunch there or at the Star Café, in Great Chapel Street. So, countless Oldie staff lunches of Hungarian wild cherry soup and roast duck were devoured under the wicked eye of John Wrobel, the devoted manager. 25 years ago, I booked one of the private rooms to interview the three Goodies for my doomed magazine, Cult TV. My best childhood moment was when I was plucked from prep at my prep school to appear in an episode with the trio. So overjoyed was I by our reunion that I ordered for them. ‘You’ll love the duck. It’s magnificent’, I yelped. ‘I bet it was’, gasped a sullen Bill Oddie, Britain’s most famous bird-watcher. Well, Mr Goodie-Two-Sandals, you must return. Rowson’s cartoons are in the Naional Portrait Gallery but their £18-set menu (smoked trout and sausages) is the best deal in the West End. I ordered a bottle of a Hungarian ‘Aidas Bikaver, in memory of the glorious founder, Victor Sassie who was as Hungarian as I was the fourth Goodie.