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Al Fresco dining in the capital


Let’s go outside


London’s best restaurants for eating al fresco


Chiltern Firehouse
Soak up the glow of celebrity as well as the sunshine in the courtyard of London’s most star-spangled noshery, where a no-reservations policy means that eating alfresco is the easiest way to get a table. The oyster cart was only meant to be here when natives were in season but has now been promoted to a year-round fixture, serving rock oysters during the summer months; otherwise, pick something from Nuno Mendes’s short all-day menu: the steak tartare is one of the best in town, the lobster noodles a modern classic. Spike your appetite beforehand with one of of the bar’s herb and vermouth aperitifs. 1 Chiltern Street, W1U 7PA;


Coq d’Argent
The secret garden atop No.1 Poultry that first made the City a dining destination in the late Nineties remains as mesmerising a spectacle as ever, an oasis of greenery affording ever-changing views of the Square Mile skyline. Order from the simpler grill menu on the bar terrace (rib-eye and chips, whole roast lobster) or go full-on French with côte de veau and loup de mer with the à la carte menus on the restaurant terrace. Champagne from the 20 producers on offer is the obvious thing to drink, but there are upwards of 70 blends of whisky, too. 1 Poultry, EC2R 8EJ;


The Ivy Chelsea Garden
The Ivy is coming back into full bloom at its new Chelsea diffusion brand and not since the mid-1990s has a table at The Ivy seemed so desirable. The reason? The expansive terrace (tucked behind a handsome dining room) bounded by climbing roses, draped with trailing wisteria and studded with  pergolas, fountains and Lloyd Loom furniture. It’s like a dress rehearsal for a Caprice Holdings entry to the Chelsea Flower Show. On-theme dishes include avocado and spinach benedict, pea and asparagus risotto – but give me the steak, egg and chips any day. 197 King’s Road, SW3 5ED;


The River Café
There is nowhere else I would rather be on a hot day than sitting here by the river in Hammersmith. The River Café is the Italian restaurant of your dreams; no wonder that if you ask any chef about their favourite places to eat, they will invariably name it. The simple, seasonal food is as its best in summer and much of what you see in the garden around you – herbs, salad leaves, edible flowers – ends up in the cooking, which even if it hasn’t been grown on site is as fresh as can be. Vitello tonnato, beef carpaccio, buffalo ricotta ravioli: the roll-call of classics tastes better here than it does anywhere else. Thames Wharf, Rainville Road, W6 9HA;


Vintage Salt
Opened on 1 May for a five-month residency on the roof of Selfridges, Vintage Salt is restaurateur Des McDonald’s third collaboration with London’s glitziest department store. Taking inspiration from a Cornish fishing village (if your idea of a Cornish fishing village is Rock), there is lobster with truffle fries and beer-battered fish and chips to eat, craft beer, English sparkling wine and gin cocktails to drink, deck chairs to lounge around on and beach huts to escape the sun. To top it all off, a retractable roof will protect against that most quintessential British summertime experience: a sudden downpour. Selfridges, 400 Oxford Street, W1A 1AB;


For more ideas, look at the original article from Ben McCormack for the Daily Telegraph here.





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