Where the chefs eat: Hélène Darroze shares her 7 favourite London restaurants

From Italian comfort food to first-rate sushi, these are the top chef’s must-visit foodie spots in the capital

With six Michelin stars to her name, Hélène Darroze is one of the most legendary female chefs of her generation. Cooking is in her blood – born in the Landes region of southwest France, her family owned and operated a Michelin-starred restaurant in the area. After training under Alain Ducasse, she returned to run the family business before opening her own restaurant in Paris in 1999. She launched her eponymous restaurant in The Connaught to great fanfare in 2008 and within two years it had gained two Michelin stars, with a third to follow in 2021. Here, Hélène shares her favourite London restaurants.

Where The Chefs Eat

Hélène Darroze’s favourite restaurants in London


Hélène Darroze Shares Her 7 Favourite Restaurants In LondonPin

Top of my list to visit as soon as it opened was Claude Bosi’s new place, Socca. I’d heard so many wonderful things about it from people who’d been already. The food is very simple and rustic, all French-Mediterranean dishes but made with wonderful produce and filled with emotion. I loved being able to try a variety of Bosi family dishes, from homemade tripe and lamb stew from Nice to la pissaladière [a local flatbread from the South of France topped with caramelised onions, black olives and anchovies] and Provençal-style beef cheeks. And for dessert? Orange blossom madeleines and crème brulée. It’s simple, French cuisine at its most delicious.

41A South Audley Street, Mayfair, London W1K 2PS


Hélène Darroze Shares Her 7 Favourite Restaurants In LondonPin

I recently went for Sunday lunch at Lisboeta, Nuno Mundes’ new restaurant, and had a great time. The room is bright and cheerful, flooded with natural light and filled with colours that evoke the Mediterranean. I ordered the speciality when I went, the Arroz de Marisco (red prawn and seafood rice), and it was incredible. To finish off we had the Bolo de Bolacha, which is a ‘Maria’ biscuit cake with buttercream, coffee and ice cream. Everything we ate was so delicious and well executed. I’m planning to go back for dinner soon, as I know the atmosphere in the evening will be completely different.

30 Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, London W1T 2NG


Hélène Darroze Shares Her 7 Favourite Restaurants In LondonPin

If you were to ask me where was the last place I had a particularly memorable meal, I’d have the answer straight away: Kol. I went with my two daughters and my nephew, who are all young; my daughters are 13 and 15, and my nephew is 21. It’s not always easy taking teenagers to a fine dining restaurant – you worry the meal will be too long, that they won’t like the food because it’s too sophisticated. But they loved every part of the experience and every dish. The best thing I ate was the taco with langoustine and smoked chilli, which is one of the chef’s signature dishes. It was incredible, and I’m in a hurry to go back and have it again. I think that’s a meal I’ll remember forever. 

9 Seymour Street, Marylebone, London W1H 7BA

The Clove Club

Hélène Darroze Shares Her 7 Favourite Restaurants In LondonPin

For a special occasion, I go to The Clove Club. It’s somewhere I return to again and again. I’m a big fan of the chef there, Isaac McHale – I love his food, the restaurant (which is fine dining but casual), that part of London, right in the heart of Shoreditch. The dishes are simple but made with beautiful produce from the UK, particularly from Scotland, where Isaac’s from. One of my favourite dishes has to be the raw Orkney scallop with hazelnut, clementine and Périgord truffle. For me, that’s what fine dining is about – taking great produce from the place where you grew up, where you learnt about food, and putting your personality into it. And that’s exactly what Isaac does. 

Shoreditch Town Hall, 380 Old Street, Shoreditch, London EC1V 9LT


Hélène Darroze Shares Her 7 Favourite Restaurants In LondonPin

Japanese restaurant Cubé is another local spot that I visit a lot – it’s my go-to in the neighbourhood for great sushi and sashimi. With sushi, it’s all about the quality and freshness of the fish, and you get both of those here. The room is fairly simple and understated, but I always sit at the counter, where they make the sushi right in front of you. I don’t have a particular dish that I always go for, as the chef uses whatever has just come in from the market to make their sushi and sashimi. Normally I’ll just say, “I trust you, send me whatever dishes you recommend.” And they’re always wonderful.

4 Blenheim Street, Mayfair, London W1S 1LB


Hélène Darroze Shares Her 7 Favourite Restaurants In LondonPin

If I’m looking for a livelier spot in Mayfair, I’ll head to Sabor. I go there often; it’s a great place to take my daughters, my work colleagues or friends passing through London. The founder, Nieves Barragan, is a friend and there’s always a party vibe there, especially if you go after the theatre. The atmosphere is great, with everyone catching up over tapas. I particularly like the tapas bar downstairs, where you can sit at the counter and watch the chefs at work. They also have a very beautiful terrace in the summer, which is a lovely place to spend an afternoon when the sun is shining. My favourite thing to order is the Segovian suckling pig, which is incredible. I also love the Galician octopus and the black rice, which are both excellent.

35–37 Heddon Street, Mayfair, London W1B 4BR

Café Murano

Hélène Darroze Shares Her 7 Favourite Restaurants In LondonPin

I live in Mayfair and Café Murano is one of my favourite local neighbourhood restaurants. I go there with my daughters a lot because we all love the way Angela Hartnett cooks. We’ll start with the cicchetti and antipasti that you can share, which are always so fresh. And then afterwards we’ll order pasta. Angela has a way of cooking it that tastes just like the way the grandmothers in Italy make it. One of my daughters particularly loves the carbonara there. It’s not always on the menu, but if we come in, they’ll cook it specially just for her.

33 St James’s Street, St James’s, London SW1A 1HD

The Glossary Logo
Subscribe to our curated London guides for the very best in contemporary culture across the capital. Plus the latest style and beauty news and reviews.
Share to...