Food & Drink

The 8 best hidden restaurants in London

Published On 11/25/2014 Published On 11/25/2014
Kitchen Table
Kitchen Table

However many restaurants you think London has... it has more. Because there are a few eateries that brazenly dismiss passing trade by almost entirely concealing themselves from view. And because one of our best qualities is that we're terrible at keeping secrets, we're giving you the lowdown on them right here...

Rochelle Canteen

Rochelle Canteen

Shoreditch
What you’re getting: Whatever they’ve got going that day
If you’re available for breakfast or lunch, Monday-Friday only, don’t mind a daily changing menu of only a handful of dishes, and are fine with ringing a buzzer on the back gate to a primary school, then Rochelle Canteen is going to be perfect for you. Housed in the school's former bike shed, the interior and style will feel a bit like St. John Bread & Wine, which is appropriate, because the Canteen comes from the talents of Margot Henderson and Melanie Arnold, which means you can expect farm-fresh dishes and a distinct lack of frills.

Flickr/Ewan Munro

La Bodega Negra

Soho
What you’re getting: Tacos. All of them.
Odds are you’ve walked past the brightly lit cafe on Moor St and are thinking this is anything but hidden. Well, that's just a bluff! Go around the corner, onto Old Compton St and find the neon-lit sex shop. Now that’s where you’ll get your jollies off -- in the culinary sense. Make your way down into the cellar, where a gorgeous den of Mexican goodness awaits.

Disappearing Dining Club

Back in 5 Minutes

Brick Lane
What you’re getting: Tasting menu
At the very top of the hipster end of Brick Lane is a rather eclectic clothes shop called Ante, however if you pop round Wednesday-Saturday after 6:30pm, don’t be surprised to find it still open. Keep your eyes front and center and head to the back where candlelit tables are set (and generally packed), covered with seasonal dishes. This almost full time resto is from the creative brains of the Disappearing Dining Club, so you can expect a rotating assortment of dishes like scallops w/ white chocolate and caviar, BBQ pulled pork, and chorizo-crusted salmon.

Pix Bar

Pix Confessional Cocktail Club

Notting Hill
What you’re getting: Lots of pintos
By now we have all seen the pin cushion-looking plates at the various Pix restaurants that have been popping up around town. Little skewered bites of Brie, bacon & foie gars, garlic mushrooms & chorizo, honey-glazed cod fritters, and the like. While the atmosphere of these joints are fine, their Portobello Rd location has a special something hiding down below; a secret confessional, big enough for eight guests, with menus in hollowed out Bibles, served through a small hatch in the door.

Flickr/Steve Cadman

Oslo Court

St. John’s Wood
What you’re getting: Beef Wellington
Situated just off Regent's Park, this classic French restaurant has been quietly doing its thing for 40 years to much success, despite the fact that most people don’t know it exists. There is a large block of fairly grim residential flats, which somehow house a restaurant that the changing of time has forgotten, still clinging to peach shades your great aunt Jane might think is charming. The food, however, is still showstoppingly great, and very reasonably priced at that.

Gremio de Brixton

Gremio de Brixton

Brixton
What you’re getting: Huevos Rotos Con Txistorra (that's cracked duck eggs with txistorra sausage)
It’s time to go to to church. St. Matthew's Church, in fact, over in Brixton. But instead of heading in the main door, instead go through the big creepy-looking gate to the side, and down to the basement where a wonder of Spanish tapas awaits you. The interior is an atmospheric mix of melting candles and exposed brick work, while the huge menu boasts cured meats, grilled fish, and some fantastic veggies.

Kitchen Table

Kitchen Table

Fitzrovia
What you’re getting: 12-14 courses of whatever they want to send you
While Bubbledogs is practically a household name these days (hooray for Champagne and hot dogs!) tucked back by their kitchen -- just ask the waiter to guide you there -- is actually a Michelin-starred restaurant that showcases the real talents of James Knappett and his team, sitting guests around the steel countertop, and serving them pretty much directly from pan to mouth.

Sirenas

Sirena's

Vauxhall
What you’re getting: The lasagna
Tucked on a little side street off Embankment is a massive serviced office block that looks more like a correctional facility rather than anywhere a restaurant should be. Hidden underneath, and accessed through cold stairs with peeling paint and metal bannisters, however, is a quirky Italian spot that generally goes against everything we know in a modern culinary world, yet thrives on a heaving lunchtime business thanks to a solid lineup of classics like Spaghetti Bolognese, Pizza Vivaldi, and Pollo Alla Milanese.

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1. Rochelle Canteen Rochelle School, London, E2 7ES (Shoreditch)

Bring your own beverages to this secretive, secluded joint and enjoy the simple aspects of a hearty meal.

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2. La Bodega Negra 9 Old Compton St, London, W1D 5JF (Soho)

There are two distinct parts to this bodega: the cafe (16 Moor St) is more relaxed and is clearly marked, while the restaurant (9 Old Compton St) definitely gives you the sexy, underground “negra” aspect of its namesake. Beyond the Amsterdam-esque neon lights at the entrance, the place is dark, loud, loads of fun. Start with a habanero soft shell crab, char-roasted mushroom and/or lamb tacos, and the spicy blue fin tuna ceviche, and keep the party going with classic margaritas, 30 plus types of tequila, and signature cocktails like Diablo (blanco tequila, ginger beer, creme de cassis). Pro-tip: make a reservation.

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3. Back in 5 Minutes 224 Brick Ln, , London, E1 6SA (Shoreditch)

The Disappearing Dining Club's Bi5M is a dark and intimate den whose varnished communal tables host their unique brand of "dinner parties, long lunches, and late nights". Fare is classic British (slow-roasted pork shoulder, haddock fillet w/ Welsh rarebit crust...), while the dozen-strong wine list is stocked on a "one case only" basis.

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4. Pix Confessional Cocktail Club 185 Portobello Rd, London, W11 2ED (Notting Hill)

Hidden below Pix restaurant in Notting Hill, this secret "confessional" is big enough for just eight guests and features menus in hollowed out Bibles, served through a small hatch in the door. What happens in confession, stays in confession.

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5. Oslo Court Oslo Court, Charlbert St, London, NW8 7EN

Situated just off Regents Park, this classic French restaurant has been quietly doing its thing for more than 40 years to much success, and yet most people don’t know it exists. There is a large block of fairly grim residential flats, which somehow house a restaurant that the changing of time has forgotten. The food, however, is still show-stoppingly great, and very reasonably priced at that.

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6. Gremio de Brixton The Crypt, St. Matthew's Church, Coldharbour, SW2 (Brixton)

To find this basically hidden resto, head to St. Matthew's Church in Brixton and instead of heading in the main door, dodge and go through the big creepy-looking gate down to the basement where a wonder of spanish tapas await you. Their menu is massive, and you’ll feel pretty smug sitting among the melting candles and exposed brick work chowing down on cured meats, grilled fish, and some seriously tasty veggies.

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7. Kitchen Table 70 Charlotte St, London, W1T 4QG (Fitzrovia)

Tucked back by the kitchen of Bubbledogs, this Michelin-starred resto showcases the talents of James Knappett and his team as you sit around home-style and get served directly from their pans to your mouth.

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8. Sirena's Southbank House, Black Prince Rd, London, SE1 7SJ

Tucked on a little side street off Embankment is a massive office block that looks more like a correctional facility than anywhere a restaurant should be. Hidden underneath, accessed through cold stairs with peeling paint and metal bannisters is a quirky Italian spot that generally goes against everything we know in a modern culinary world, yet thrives on a heaving lunchtime business.

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