Best Restaurants Near Museums in London
Rain or shine, but especially rain, museums are a great place to head with the kids to let them run around and learn something new. But we know how fast it goes from screaming with delight to screaming tantrum if the little ones (or hangry-prone parents) aren’t fed quickly. Below is our list of great places to eat within a ten minute walk, and usually much less, of family-friendly London museums.
Running the gamut from the Rosetta Stone to the Elgin Marbles and so much more, you’re sure to work up an appetite.
Great Queen Street is our go-to spot around Covent Garden, serving season-led, gutsy, seductive food that majors on British ingredients with a Gallic twist. It’s informal yet elegant atmosphere proffers a warm welcome over airs and graces.
What to eat? Pig’s head terrine and piccalilli, Moroccan ratatouille, confit duck leg and Welsh rock oysters. The Sunday lunch is a stonker: pre-order by Tuesday on the week of your book for a ‘family-style’ roast dinner for the whole table to share.
Pipsqueak tip The kitchen will do its utmost to cater to younger diners, adapting dishes where possible if they are less inclined to share from the day’s menu.
It’s all about the cow here: beef, beef and more beef. Which, incidentally, all comes from happy native beasts and is dry-aged. Hawskmoor steakhouse has capitalized on it success and opened several branches in the city (children are welcome at them all), and has expanded the menu too, to take in fish and seafood sourced with the same meticulousness as their meat: they are passionate advocates of the best of British produce. All this doesn’t come cheap, and neither should it
What to order If you’re bedding in with the kids for a more immersive meal, start with Gloucester Old Spot belly ribs or Salcome crab on toast, perhaps, and follow with a large cut to share, with beef dripping fries or triple cooked chips.
Pipsqueak tip Order the mac and cheese!
The National Gallery and attached National Portrait Gallery contain a stupendous collection of many of the most famous and inspiring works of art. It is also central located so weave past some of the tourist traps and choose someplace special.
A boon when you’ve spent the day touring the National Gallery, or just escaped the throngs around Trafalgar Square, with hungry kids, this smart all-day operation in a bright, calm room has truly gawp-worthy views from the 3rd floor of the National Portrait Gallery. British-Med fare is the deal, done safe and consistently well.
What to eat? Red wine and radicchio risotto with salsify and pine nuts, and we’d also recommend the pork chop with savoy cabbage and mustard sauce. Breakfast from 10am offers boiled eggs and Marmite soldiers.
‘Relaxed excellence’ is Tredwells’ calling card, and it’s certainly the most casual of his trio of acclaimed chef and restaurateur (and MasterChef judge) Marcus Wareing’s London dining rooms. Named after an Agatha Christie character, the three-floor West End restaurant’s menu is anchored by British ingredients and French technique, but travels across continents.
What to order The slow-cooked salmon with kimchee pancake, daikon and black sesame or the pea tortellini with soya ricotta and Kalamata olives.
Pipsqueak tip The kitchen goes out of its way to excite young palates, and the junior menu is a wholesome carte: ‘magnificent meatballs’ with tomato sauce, ‘green garden’ burger or ‘cheery chicken lollipops’ with sweet potato, peas and broccoli at the time of writing. Instead of a carton of super-sweet juice, children can wash down their food with a pineapple mojito or ‘The Funky Beet!’ made with beetroot, apple and rhubarb. Check the website for ‘kids eat free’ offers in school holidays.
‘Frenchie’ is Gregory Marchand’s nickname, coined by Jamie Oliver when Marchand ran the kitchen at Fifteen in Shoreditch. His roots are in Nantes, but after training and cheffing far and wide – including a long stint in the UK – it was Paris’s garment district where he opened his first (tiny) place, a celebrated ‘new wave’ casual restaurant and key player in the bistronomy movement. In 2016, the Anglophile brought Frenchie to London, bang at the heart of things in Covent Garden. His open-minded, innovative food, influenced by the many stops on his culinary journey, results in some cracking dishes, all finely wrought and intensely flavoured.
What to eat? The bacon scone with maple syrup and clotted cream is a must-have, and while little ones might like to get busy pulling apart the whole roasted artichoke and citrus aioli, you can move on to honey-roasted duck with aubergine, miso, hazelnuts and plums or sea bream tartare with chestnuts, yuzu and quinoa.
Pipsqueak tip Let them know you’re bringing along children when you book and they will happily prepare a suitable dish. Upstairs is a tad cramped, so book downstairs dining.
Following a wildly successful stint as a pop-up, this modern Indian small-plates joint got their hands on a proper bricks-and-mortar site in Soho in early 2017 and the plaudits just kept on coming. First things first: book well ahead. You can reserve a table for lunch at the communal dining area downstairs, which – with children – you’d be better off doing than joining the intimidating queue.
What to eat? Ingredients matter, and only the best of British makes it onto the plate. The single-sheet menu of breads and rice, sides, veg, fish, meat and pudding offers plenty to choose from but not overwhelm. Tuck into goan sausage, or if you’re there for brunch on Sunday, the kichri (kedgeree).
Pipsqueak tip Children might opt for tomato pilau, bread from the tandoor and delicate samphire pakoras, KFC (Keralan, not Kentucky) and bhel puri (puffed rice snack).
Jacob Kenedy’s Soho restaurant has sustained an acclaimed reputation as purveyor of regional Italian food since it opened its doors over a decade ago. An enlightening gastronomic tour offering adaily-changing menu of small and large plates, each attributed to its region of origin (20 regions in all) taking in familiar, exquisitely rendered cucina rustica.
What to eat? Depending on the day’s menu, arancini, or aubergine parmigiana from Campania, perhaps – or the more obscure tripe with guanciale, or Tuscan sweet salame of pig’s blood with chocolate for pudding.
Pipsqueak tip For children, pasta is a good bet, perhaps spaghetti with clams or tagliatelle with ragu. You can’t go wrong with a bowl of gelati (Kenedy runs the successful geletaria Gelupo across the street) or ‘grandpa’s balls’ of deep-fried ricotta and chocolate.
Natural History Museum, Science Museum and Victoria & Albert Museum
Each museum could be an entire day in itself, and while most kids would naturally choose dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum, try to convince them that their real passion is art and design and go to the V&A.
Celebrated French chef Claude Bosi took the helm at the iconic Michelin House in Kensington, once the HQ for the Michelin Tyre Company, and remarkably (though rather aptly) has already won the kitchen two Michelin stars. The menu reads as a paean to haute cuisine – delicate dishes of unabashed luxury – until Bosi makes his inimitable mark and takes you off-road with ‘my mum’s tripe and cuttlefish gratin with pig’s ear and ham cake’, a dish close to his heart yet just as painstakingly wrought as everything else. He reimagines other classics of French cuisine too, and draws on his Lyonnaise heritage to make Bibendum fully his own. The oyster bar on the ground floor offers a more casual set-up yet the restaurant proper upstairs is what’s garnering the rave reviews, and children are welcomed.
What to eat? Opt for the set lunch – unless younger diners are up for the fully immersive experience – which is half the cost of going a la carte. Dishes might include roasted celeriac consommé with Medjool dates and English kohlrabi, followed by Cornish cod ‘Grenobloise’ or anything from the lunch carvery broche, finishing with the ice cream trolley (including warm honey Madeleines), seasonal dessert or cheese.
Pipsqueak tip Request a high chair or space at the table for a pram when you book. The kitchen can prepare something simple for children, based on the produce they have that day; maybe plain fish, vegetables, or some roast chicken.
This izakaya-style Japanese is budget-busting, but when you consider its large plot in a swanky Knightsbridge postcode and exemplary sushi, this doesn’t come as a surprise. At Dinings, Japanese cuisine coalesces with European ingredients to create forward-thinking Japanese tapas, sushi and sashimi – finger food of the highest order.
What to order Start with the tiny tar-tar chips, loaded with tuna or yellowtail, then load up on sushi and sashimi. Also, there’s amazing Legado Iberian pork with sage and grilled chili garlic black cod.
Parent tip Do yourself a favor and book a reservation, especially to request to dine on the terrace during warm weather.
Pipsqueak tip The staff will be happy to tailor dishes to kids’ preferences.
Instead of hanging up his apron in 2016 after leaving The Square, his celebrated restaurant in Mayfair, Philip Howard headed straight for a new venture in Chelsea, which has been reaping the rewards from the outset (including a Michelin star). The highly accomplished ‘chef’s chef’ and his team at Elystan Street have put together a menu that’s lighter on the tummy and lighter on the fine-dining sensibilities than his former residency. The elegant and warm dining room is the setting for self-assured, colourful and fiercely seasonal cuisine that gives vegetables a front seat.
What to eat? Rooted in traditional French technique yet altogether modern, expect dishes like black figs with burrata, prosciutto, fennel, pine nuts, basil and balsamic vinegar, breast of chicken with coco beans, smashed tomatoes and courgettes, girolles, spring onions and pesto to appear on the lunch men. Lemon tart or damson soufflé makes for a winning finale.
Pipsqueak tip Children are welcome, and the kitchen will simplify any of their dishes on request, or can just prepare some pasta or chicken.
The chance to run around the great generating hall of this former power plant is enough to convince any kid to go, and of course you can then work in a stroll through the collection of modern art.
For excellent British food, served in an elegant and historic setting at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. The majestic river view only adds to the ambiance.
What to order The chef’s signature marinated scallops with Granny Smith apple and squid ink mayonnaise or fish stew at the fancier upstairs dining room. Or a fabulous bar menu—chorizo, Scotch eggs or fish & Chips—downstairs.
Pipsqueak tip There’s a really good kids’ menu, plus a Shakespeare-themed activity sheets for them at the bar area.
There’s nothing staid about the Sea Containers restaurant (part of the glitzy Mondrian hotel), named in homage to its former shipping company tenants. Styled in the guise of a 1920s cruise ship and oozing glamour, it’s an Anglo-American all-day affair (open from 7am) with a plum spot on the Southbank, and brasserie-style dishes designed for sharing while you sit in the copper-walled ‘hull’.
What to eat? Dishes, divided into field, sea and land sections, are designed for sharing – you might go for crab on toast, ceviche or mixed kale salad, followed by cheeseburger and chips or braised short ribs with spring greens, grelot onions and bone marrow gratin. Brunch, a technicolour combo of transatlantic goodies, takes in burritos with spicy BBQ beans, a reuben, Brooklyn Sandwich (buttermilk waffles, bacon, syrup and ice cream), breakfast hash, cobb salad and a seafood platter (and more), with weekend roasts served British style, to share. Should the sun be shining, eat on the terrace where there’s a set-menu affair taking in the likes of Mediterranean flatbread, hanger steak and roasted cod, with Mondrian’s Oreo Iced Parfait to finish.
Pipsqueak tip Kids can choose cheese pasta, sautéed vegetables, steak and chips, ham and cheese ‘melt fingers’ or fish and chips from their own menu, and eat free between 12 and 4pm every weekend.
Roast, overlooking the bustle of Borough Market, is somewhat of a stalwart having been on the scene for over a decade, yet it still frequently appears on ‘best Sunday lunch’ lists and – being bookable and large – is a welcoming prospect for families with youngsters in tow, particularly for the set Sunday lunch.
What to eat? The quintessentially British comfort food aims to please on all fronts, with breakfast on the go from 7am (eggs how you like them, kippers, or a Full Borough, perhaps), more formal offerings at lunch or – brace yourself – the ‘Roast’ burger (beef sirloin and all the familiar roast lunch trimmings in a bun), arguably either a work of genius or a culinary obscenity, depending on your predilections.
Pipsqueak tip Young diners have their own menu (2 courses £12.50) from which they can opt for fish fingers and chips with mushy peas, cheesy omelette, penne with tomato sauce or roast chicken breast with mash, with knickerbocker glory or another fiendishly sweet pud to finish. Kids eat free during school holidays.
Museum of London
An underappreciated gem, the Museum of London at the edge of the old Roman wall, takes you on compact and delightful tour of London through every major era from prehistoric through Roman, medieval, Victorian and recent past.
The Jugged Hare is a slick operation with a machismo hum and a thing for wild birds (not to mention taxidermy) – should your visit coincide with game season, you’re in for a treat. Vegetarians and vegans beware: the menu majors in meat, namely British classics and plenty of flesh from the grill or rotisserie, including a ‘Billingsgate’ selection of fish dishes, fresh from the famous London fish market.
What to eat? Expect the likes of terrine, braised pig’s jowl, retired dairy cattle bavette with Mrs Brown’s black pudding and fried duck egg. Hefty stuff. There’s also pie of the day and the eponymous Jugged Hare with creamed mash, cabbage and bacon.
Pipsqueak tip Don’t be put off by the City suits at weekday lunchtime: this is a child-friendly spot, and a good bet if you’re in the Moorgate area (not exactly replete with fine places to eat). The children’s menu is served from midday–7pm and includes cheese on toast, chicken goujons with fresh vegetables and mini sausages with mash and gravy.
This vast brasserie from the Gordon Ramsay empire has swagger (why, of course) and its globally-inspired menu is a please-all affair, which fits the bill both for the suited and booted city types on their lunch breaks or post-work hangouts and tourists with St Paul’s Cathedral in their sights. Diners expecting kitchen alchemy may be left wanting, but the touch of finesse amidst bistro classics makes for satisfying plates of food.
What to eat? Half the extensive menu features lighter fare – starters, salads and sides – and the rest is gutsier meat and fish dishes, with a Josper grill giving Dingley Dell pork chops, poussins, rib-eye steak and lamb cutlets, not the mention the native and rare breed prime beef cuts, a deep, flavoursome char. We also like the chalk stream river trout, late summer vegetables, clams and mussels in an aromatic broth, and the burger with Monterey Jack cheese and chips.
Pipsqueak tip Kids eat free all day, every day. And on Sundays there’s entertainment, including face painting and a magician.
A former stately home and now museum just north of the bustling shopping of Oxford Street, the Wallace Collection features an impressive collection of 18th century French art and furniture, and did we mention — an armoury.
Giancarlo and Katie’s Caldesi’s Marylebone restaurant, bar and café has been quietly going about its business, feeding locals and those in the know traditional no-frills Italian food, for over 15 years, while the couple’s enterprise has been steadily expanding. Now there’s are cookery school next door, a high-end restaurant in Bray and a clutch of well-regarded cookbooks to their name. Gluten-free diners are well served, as the kitchen offers an entirely separate gluten-free menu (including gluten-free pasta and bread).
What to eat? Giancarlo’s Tuscan heritage looms large on the regional menu, structured in typical Italian fashion with antipasti starting things off, then secondi (think beef ragu and spaghetti alla carbonara) with tiramisu, Italian cheese or pannacotta bringing up the rear. Weekend brunch – the Big Tuscan cooked breakfast will sate the most voracious of appetites – is a big hit with parents.
Pipsqueak tip Families with young kids will likely prefer dining in the more casual ground-floor area. Oh and if you have time, be sure to sign up for one of the cooking classes for kids that they run.
Every day is a dim sum day at Royal China, this upmarket Cantonese restaurant chain, which has been plying its trade in the capital for over 20 years. Of its six outposts the Queensway branch is very popular with feasting families, and the flagship Baker Street branch (also the largest) comes a close second.
What to eat? The buns are freshly steamed or fried to order and come stuffed with a cornucopia of different fillings, from scallops, prawn and chive and minced pork and shrimp to bean curd and the signature springy Shanghai pork dumplings. For the adventurous among you, there are chicken feet, or get hands-on and wrap your own crispy duck pancakes. There are classic Cantonese noodle and fried rice dishes, too.
Pipsqueak tip Sharing is a given, so order what you want and let the little ones pick and explore what they like.