We have made it through four months, ladies and gents. And finally, our long lockdown wait is definitively over and from Monday we can eat and drink together in pubs and restaurants.
April 12 is the day when food and our social lives can lawfully coalesce again. But only outdoors of course.
While this is exciting, here are a few safety guidelines in place for the current allowance of terrace and outdoor dining: You can eat and drink together on the same table outside with separate households, but only up to 6 can be together; Customers will have to wear a mask when not seated at a table; and everyone will be required to “check in” using the NHS Covid-19 app individually for monitoring the spread of the virus.
As this is a financially strapped time for the food and beverage industry, some restaurants have their own set of guidelines around reservations and deposits so we advise calling or booking a table before arriving without notice.
On the boozy side, the previous 10pm hospitality curfew will not apply and bars do not have to serve ‘substantial meals’ with their drinks.
We also recommend diners to check for rain and bundle up appropriately in London’s unpredictable weather. If the restaurant doesn’t have cover in their outdoor area, they would not be allowed to move you to a table inside. That would have to wait till 17 May, when indoor dining is set to begin.
It’s worth noting that hospitality workers have no choice but to enforce these public health rules in order to keep their buisiness alive. The least we can do as diners is to cooperate and support the local businesses that make up the fabric of our neighbourhoods.
Now that ground rules have been established, we’ve compiled a list of exciting restaurants and drinking serving what most of us cannot whip up at home. What’s the point of going out without trying something new?
Arch 2 Deptford Station, London SE8 4NS
Housed under Archway 2 at Deptford Station, this cocktail bar and small plates restaurant’s interior is pure industrial chic – not that you’ll notice, as you will be dining on the spacious heated area in front from 14 April onwards.
Mediterranean and European inspired plates are made to order, with the likes of baby octopus with white wine, potatoes and olives (moscardini in guazzetto), Tuna tatare, and Chimichurri steak. Pair bites with Bluethroat’s own cocktail creations which range from floral tipples like the Rose Royale, with Hendricks gin and touches of rhubarb, rose and peach to the spicy Iron Cure, spiked with Calvados, rye whisky, Pilsner beer reduction and cardamon.
3-4 Resolution Way, Deptford, London SE8 4NT
A Proud Jamaican instituition in Depford, Buster Mantis is housed beneath two archways – one as a bar, café and eatery, the other as a creative space for events, art exhibitions and screenings. The jerk specialist returns with a bang on 14 April with a month long BBQ menu featuring, and I quote: “BBQ tings. Rum Punch, Jerk drum.” They are taking bookings but always welcome the stray walk-ins. Go if you like curries, spiced shrimp, jerk pork belly, aged beef burgers and desserts that sing you to sleep.
272 New Cross Road, New Cross Gate, London, SE14 6AA
The Rose serves up classic gastropub goodness with wood-fired pizzas, Sunday roasts and an impressive seasonal menu that goes hand in hand with their list of draught beers and wines. Students and families are welcomed to gather in the heated beer garden, where dogs are also highly encouraged. Click on their website to book a table from 12 April or simply to gaze at their hearty menu.
199 Cambridge Heath Rd, London E2 0EL
The offbeat all-day bar and kitchen has a covered heated outdoor area for hungry hopefuls to chow down on their new menu of Modern American Classics. A taste of California in Bethnal Green, their massive menu features starters like Honey and pineapple squid, nacho platters and fried pickles; Burgers are laden with buttermilk chicken and their brunch section involve the likes of bacon pancakes and Huevos Rancheros. Let’s not forget their selection of tacos (on Tuesdays only) and sourdough pizzas, which would wash down well with any of their craft beers across 16 taps. Vegan and gluten free menu items are also available, along with low ABV beers and drinks like Kombucha.
Sager and Wilde (Paradise Row)
250 Paradise Row, London E2 9LE
The paradise row restaurant branch of wine specialist Sager + Wilde spotlights contemporary European dishes with a British flair. Pair small plates like Grilled radicchio with pickled pear, goat cheese, walnut and pasta offerings such as Paccheri with swordfish, cherry tomatoes and black olives with their extensive wine list which includes Pet Nats, sparkling rosés, skin contact… Thank goodness their staff is as helpful as they are wine knowledgeable. Book now to avoid disappointment – Paradise Row’s branch has heated outdoor seating which lends well to cosy late night drinks.
35 Sclater St, London E1 6LB
London Barbeque Smokestak has been a cult favourite since founder David Carter doled out his out his famous brisket and pickled chili buns in pop-ups all over London. The star of the show is obviously the smoker and grill, which churns out succulent, beautifully blackened, impossibly tender meats and vegetables. (In the words of Jay Rayner: “not everything here once had a pulse.”). Heart-stopping heroes like smoked cod roe, crispy ox cheek, smoked pastrami buns, 30 day dry-aged beef rib and coal roasted aubergine are more than worth the food coma afterwards. Finish it off with their famous sticky toffee pudding, and possibly a burnt peach old fashioned. Bookings of 4-6 people are opened for April 12 and smaller tables for 2- 4 are available for walk-ins only.
195 Hackney Rd, London E2 8JL
Offshoot of its trailblazing Exmouth counterpart, Morito Hackney draws inspiration from North Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean and Southern Spain to showcase punchy tapas that doesn’t hold back on flavours. With a menu that changes everyday, your favourite item might not be there when you visit, but expect offerings like Labneh with deep-fried chickpeas and chilli butter; Seared artichokes, peas, asparagus and mizithra; and Chargrilled rabbit with romesco and braised chard (12 April Menu). Along with an array of mediterranean cocktails, Morito is home to an unending list of sherries, as well as Greek, Spanish and Lebanese wines. Unfortunately, their vegan Monday menu is on hold until mid-May, when they reopen for indoor dining again. Morito is open for breakfast, lunch and dinners bookings.
People’s Park Tavern
360 Victoria Park Road, E9 7BT
One of the largest beer gardens in London, we would be remiss to leave out the onsite brewery, BBQ kitchen, pop-up cocktail bar that is People’s Park Taven in the very heart of Victoria Park. Its microbrewery, Laine Brew Co, supplies draught beers from sours to stouts and they’re currently working on a new BBQ based menu for the big opening. Covering a vast area, outdoor seating encompasses some spaces with heat lamps, umbrellas, and the Greenhaus, a clear heated and covered marquee for the colder months. While bookings are open for parties of up to 4 or 6, groups of 2-3 are able to make use of their walk-in tables.
Queen of Hoxton
1 Curtain Road, London, EC2A 3JX
Hold rooftop bars near and dear to our hearts – this is their time to shine. Queen of Hoxton is a music venue in Hackney, and usually features a neon basement which splits off into two booming club rooms sans pandemic. Luckily for us, bookings are open for cheeky alfresco drinks and food on their rooftop bar, which boasts a kitchen, bar and BBQ, with a view to boot. Vegan burgers, champagne slushies and margaritas anyone?
The Oval Tavern
131 Oval Rd, Croydon CR0 6BR
The Oval Tavern is solid the way it is, building its reputation around community, music and their reliable food and booze. It’s been without its pub quizzes and live music for a few months now, but the beer garden is available for locals to book once again. Enjoy real ales on tap with robust homecooked dishes like mushroom rarebit, mac and cheese, and loaded chips. If you’re lucky, you may get to hang with friendly pub cats Chorizo, Ollie and Camembert!
25 Westow Hill, Upper Norwood, London SE19 1TQ
On top of Westow Hill, Faber Fox boasts a lovely heated outdoor garden and terrace with some of Croydon’s best views. Their menu highlights fresh produce and showcases an impressive selection of bites for any group gathering – the whole baked camembert, mezze plate, flat iron steak, slow cooked lamb flatbread and slow roast pork belly are mouthwatering examples. Vegan and vegetarians have their pick of brunch items, with options like warm baked butternut, new potato and parsnip salad and the vegan Sunday roast. Wine, beers, ciders, champagne, cocktails and even alcohol-free beers are aplenty.
Units 58-62, Boxpark, 99 George St, Croydon CR0 1LD
After the long wait, Boxpark Croydon with it’s myriad of vendors like Eat Lah (Malaysian street fare), Chilango (Explosive Mexican flavours), Thela (Paratha Rolls and Chaat), and MeatLiquor (American burgers) are finally serving up the street food we all love and crave. Indulge in BAOBAO, a taiwanese-style street food joint with a variety of steamed and fried buns stuffed with the likes of braised pork, fried chicken and crispy tofu. Outdoor dining on benches are available with the rule of six. Please note that all visitors will still need to register with the Boxpark black card to gain entry, and that Boxpark asks that everyone wears a face covering when not seated at a table.