This week we’re taking a look at some unique, and at times downright quirky dining experiences in London. From circus performances to Russian grandmas and scorpion salads, it’s all here… and there’s some Michelin-stars too.
“Is it possible to fall in love over a plate of onions” writes Graham Greene as the characters of his novel begin their passionate love affair seated at a table of the Rules restaurant. The novel in question “the end of the affair” is loosely based around Greene’s own relationship with the femme fatale Catherine Walston, but its not the only novel, nor high profile extramarital relationship to involve the Rules throughout its very, very long history.
Established in 1798, the restaurant is only 20 years younger than the United States of America and is the the oldest in Britain,( if you’re wondering which one is the oldest in the world is, it’s this Spanish gem). It has survived two world wars, witnessed sparks fly between King Edward VII and the actress Lilly Langtry and the likes of Dickens, Greene and John le Carré have had the honor of feasting on its steak and kidney pies and immortalizing it in their works. History buff or gourmet, you owe it to yourself to book a table here.
Bringing the dinner and a show concept to a whole new level, the Circus restaurant is possibly the only eat in the world where complaining about a stray (thankfully still firmly attached) digit in your soup may not be so far fetched. Acrobats dance on and dangle above your table, fire eaters turn up the heat in between meals and sensuous dancers perform on stage and in the aisles of the restaurant. Yes it is as crazy as it sounds. To see the show at its best, head there on a Saturday where there’s also a DJ spinning until 2am.
Grandma Vanna hates seeing her children go hungry or cold. Her solution, plates of heartwarming Russian comfort food and for the older kids, a sprinkle of Vodka here and there. Flavorsome, filling and generous the dishes here are exactly what the doctor ordered to chase away the blues, whether its the Russian winter or London weather you seek solace from. Filled with chandeliers, mirrors, pictures, candles and all sorts of paraphernalia from Russia, the setting couldn’t be cosier and offers nostalgia whether or not you can tell the difference between a bowl of shchi or ukha.
If you can’t go through the rabbit hole for a tea party, this is the next best place. The multi roomed sketch is as decadent and quirky as it was upon opening over 10 years ago and with the number of restaurants competing for the title, that’s no small feat. Award winning artists let their imagination run wild across seven rooms for a potpourri of mismatched elements including alien pods for toilets and the flashy elegance of the Lecture Room. But it’s not just art on the walls, with Michelin-starred dining by award winning chef Pierre Gagnaire, the Sketch is a serious destination for epicures too.
Galvin La Chapelle
Michelin starred dining in a heritage listed chapel is bound to impress anyone sitting across the table from you… especially when it looks as gorgeous as this. The French gourmet menu is to die for, and the restaurant claims to have the largest selection of Heritage La Chapelle bottles in the world.
Last but not least, the Archipelago is probably the oddest item on this list. If you’ve ever wondered what zebra, scorpion or even smoked python would taste like, then this is the place to go. The decor is as eclectic as the menu, featuring all sorts of effigies, Buddha statues, masks and giant peacock feathers. It’s odd but tasteful, just like what’s on your plate.