La grande réouverture is nearly here: if the easing of lockdown all goes according to plan, hospitality in England can open for outdoor service from 12 April and we, like you, cannot wait. Alas, old Blighty doesn’t have the sprawling pavement cafés of France or the piazzas of Italy, but in the course of compiling this list we realised how many secret courtyards we have and how resourceful restaurateurs are being to ensure a wonderful al fresco experience, not to mention local councils who have been able to relax planning permission rules for external spaces.
So here’s our curated list. This isn’t designed to be exhaustive but is a selection of places we’ve reviewed favourably in the past or just know to be really rather special. After months of lockdown ennui, you deserve it. Each restaurant or bar listed below is re-opening for outdoor service from 12 April unless otherwise indicated in brackets. The links to each venue’s website are in the venue’s name (in red).
We also have some exciting morsels of food-related news in our ‘news canapés’ section at the end of this article.
9 Seymour Place, Marylebone, London, W1H 5BA
Whilst there’s still uncertainty about travelling to northern Spain this year, the courtyard and outdoor tables at Lurra promise to provide much-needed escapism. The courtyard (pictured above) will be fully heated and covered in the event of inclement weather. Their Galician beef and burnt Basque cheesecake are now the thing of legend so it’s very pleasing to hear their full menu will be on offer along with daily specials.
Whitehall Place, Westminster, London, SW1A 2BD
Tom Kerridge’s eponymous restaurant at The Corinthia has managed to squeeze in some outside space for a temporary four-week pop-up commencing 12 April. Whilst Tom will be preparing for his new Camden venture ‘Bad Vegan’ (due to open soon), the modern British menu will be led by head chef Nick Beardshaw.
Meanwhile, the hotel’s Mediterranean garden lounge under chef André Garrett (of The Northall) will also be open. See the links above for the Garden Grill and Garden Lounge respectively.
4-5 London Road, London, SE1 6JZ
This delightful Latin American enclave in Elephant and Castle is throwing open its courtyard garden from 12 April. Empanadas, ceviche, blue corn churros and Pisco Sours await.
30 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 8NA
We could barely contain our excitement either. Cora Pearl – the restaurant with those chips – will be serving diners outdoors on Henrietta Street (both covered and heated) from 12 April.
374 Helmsley Place, Hackney, E8 3SB
Michelin-starred Brat is continuing its residency at Climpson’s Arch, complete with an insulated marquee structure in the courtyard. An April shower shouldn’t stop you enjoying a cheeky bottle of Albariño with Cornish velvet crab and mutton chops.
60 St. John’s Wood High Street, London, NW8 7SH / 9 Islington Green, Angel, London, N1 2XH / 55 Aldwych, Holborn, London, WC2B 4BB
We may have to wait a little longer for an epic return to Corbin and King’s Brasserie Zedel or The Wolseley, but in the meantime European vibes can be enjoyed on the tables outside Soutine (St John’s Wood), Bellanger (Islington) and The Delaunay (Aldwych) from 13 April.
Quality Chop House (from 13 April)
90 Farringdon Road, Farringdon, London, EC1R 3EA
We were pleasantly surprised to learn the ever-reliable QCH is planning to serve diners on the pavement outside from 13 April. Their delivery service has been a godsend during these Covidian times but we cannot wait to return for the real thing.
NEW: The Farrier (from 15 April)
Camden Stables Market, 87/88 North Yard, Chalk Farm, London, NW1 8AH
The Farrier is one of those rare things to come out of lockdown: a brand new pub and restaurant! Whilst we can’t personally vouch for it yet, its interesting location ensconced in Camden Market and its menu sound rather appealing. Expect lamb scotch eggs, crusty game pies, roasted bone marrow and toffee popcorn cake. Note they’re only taking bookings for tables of 4 to start with. Walk-ins welcome.
Café Deco (from 13 April)
43 Store Street, Bloomsbury, London, WC1E 7DB
Café Deco opened for restaurant service briefly in December 2020 and we loved it (see our review here). From 13 April they will be serving a small number of tables outside from 10am to 6pm.
106 Cromer Street, London, WC1H 8BZ
The King’s Cross branch of the consistently-excellent Casa Tua will be turning its patch outside Cromer Street into a mini Italian piazza! In the shade of the trees and Holy Cross Church, this hidden gem in the backstreets of King’s Cross promises to be a welcome break from lockdown. We still maintain they do the best carbonara in London.
Thames Wharf, Rainville Road, Hammersmith, London, W6 9HA
Well this needs no introduction really. Book early to avoid disappointment.
Parsons (from 15 April)
39 Endell Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2H 9BA
Parsons will be open from Thursdays to Saturdays only until the full return to normality from 17 May but in the meantime they’ve gone to great efforts to make their small but perfectly formed outdoor area wind and waterproof. Shrimp croquettes, turbot, those amazing fries and a steak sandwich for dessert please. If you can’t get to the restaurant, their delivery service via Dishpatch is also fantastic (see our Home Kit reviews).
Sister restaurant The 10 Cases across the road will be re-opening on 17 May.
40-41 Rathbone Place, Fitzrovia, London, W1T 1HX
Gloria’s ludicrous sister restaurant Circolo Popolare will be opening its Fitzrovia terrace serving everything on their menu from pizzas to the ‘incomparable lemon pie’ with the Morrissey quiff of meringue.
16-18 St James’s Place, St. James’s, London SW1A 1NJ
The sedate American Bar at The Stafford and its discreet courtyard is a truly magnificent experience and, on a personal note, a favourite of Palate’s co-founders. On 24 April there will be a Hawksmoor pop-up which has sadly already sold out at the time of writing (tickets were snapped up in one hour!), but guest chef Lisa Goodwin-Allen is confirmed for 1 May and there will be a whole summer of barbecues taking place. Follow the link above to learn more about their barbecue programme for the summer.
Brunswick House (13 April)
30 Wandsworth Road, Vauxhall, London, SW8 2LG
Now with twice the seating capacity thanks to an understanding landlord, Jackson Boxer’s Brunswick House will be open for meals on the terrace from 13 April.
15 Langham Place, Marylebone, London, W1B 3DE
Michel Roux Jr’s gastropub near Broadcasting House is opening a Summer Terrace from 12 April. Lazy Saturday afternoons sinking their unique punches and beer cocktails await.
12 and 7 Old Compton Street, Soho, London, W1D 5JE
These two wonderful bars are opposite each other and will again share an outdoor space on pedestrianised Old Compton Street. Bar Termini is well known for its pre-bottled Negronis served directly from the freezer without any of that dilution nonsense. Meanwhile, Swift is regularly recognised as one of the top cocktail bars in the world – and rightly so. I very much enjoyed their refreshing ‘Golden Years’ and ‘Olympia’ in their Soho and Shoreditch branches last summer and hope to do so again. Tables outside Bar Termini can be booked whilst Swift is open for walk-ins (note they get very busy so if booking becomes possible I’d recommend planning ahead – see their respective websites above for further information).
Trivet (from 13 April)
36 Snowsfields, Bermondsey, London, SE1 3SU
We were mightily impressed by The Fat Duck alumni Jonny Lake and Isa Bal’s Trivet when it opened in late 2019 and fortunately reviewed it just before the first lockdown. You can see our review here. From 13 April they will be serving diners with their wonderful food outdoors.
5 St James’s Street, St. James’s, London, SW1A 1EF
One of our favourite openings of 2020, this unashamedly Gallic restaurant in St James has a private courtyard, open for your confit de canard, steak tartare and rum baba needs from 12 April. As noted above, The American Bar will also be open in The Stafford’s cobbled courtyard across the road if you fancy an aperitif beforehand.
1 King’s Boulevard, Kings Cross, London, N1C 4BU
Sadly Herman ze German was one of Covid’s many restaurant casualties but fear not: you can get your currywurst, sauerkraut and Pilsner fix outdoors at D&D’s German Gymnasium betwixt St Pancras and King’s Cross stations.
55 Shirland Road, London, W9 2JD
Excellent Sunday roasts and French-leaning fare at this wonderful pub in Maida Vale are the order of the day, which is thankfully opening its outdoor areas from 12 April. Sister pub The Coach in Farringdon will also be opening outdoors from 1 May.
Meanwhile, The Hero of Maida’s former chef director, the legendary Henry Harris, announced his departure from the Harcourt Inns group in autumn last year and will now be working with Wright Brothers.
Llewelyn’s (from 14 April)
293-295 Railton Road, Brixton, London, SE24 0JP
Lovely, lovely Llewelyn’s next to Herne Hill station will be throwing open its terrace from 14 April until 16 May. Note, some tables may not have any cover from the elements so bring a brolly just in case.
Wilton Place, Knightsbridge, London, SW1X 7RL
The Berkeley in Knightsbridge have created a set of temporary beach huts channelling the seafronts of Whitstable and Southwold. Each hut can accommodate up to 6 people and requires a minimum spend of £500. The Garden Terrace, which opened last summer, is also available without any minimum spend policy.
16 Playground Gardens, Shoreditch, London, E2 7FA
Last but by no means least in our round-up of London’s al fresco re-openings is Melanie Arnold and Margot Henderson’s legendary Rochelle Canteen in Shoreditch. This walled English garden is simply a must for a springtime treat.
A selection of al fresco re-openings outside of London
Rick Stein (various locations)
Rick Stein’s restaurants in Sandbanks, Barnes and Newquay (Fistral beach), Padstow (St Petroc’s Bistro) and St Merryn (The Cornish Arms) are all opening their outdoor areas from 12 April. His restaurant in Winchester is open outdoors from 15 April.
Lime Wood (New Forest/Hampshire)
Lime Wood, Beaulieu Road, Lyndhurst, Hampshire, S043 7FZ
Lime Wood, the wonderful country retreat in the New Forest with Angela Hartnett and Luke Holder’s restaurant at its heart, is opening for outdoor dining and self-contained stays from 12 April.
The Parker’s Tavern (Cambridge)
52-42 Regent Street, Cambridge, CB2 1AD
This modern British brasserie in the University Arms hotel is re-opening on Parkers on the Piece from 12 April.
The Pig (various locations)
Small hotel chain The Pig will be opening its venues in Hampshire, Somerset, Dorset, Devon, Kent and Cornwall for al fresco dining and self-contained overnight stays (without full hotel service) from 12 April.
And finally some April food news canapés…
Corbin and King are making hot cross buns available for nationwide delivery via The Wolseley. For more information see: https://www.thewolseley.com/product/hot-cross-buns/
Simone Remoli is expanding his pasta take-away empire with another branch in St Pancras International station: https://www.pastaremoli.co.uk/st-pancras-int
Adam Handling has announced his first pub with rooms venture outside London. The Loch and the Tyne will be opening in Windsor from 17 May.
Chef Daniel Adams, who we interviewed back in the summer (see the interview here), is making beef wellingtons available for nationwide delivery the weekend of 10 April. Order yours here: https://chefdanieladams.com/
‘Chefs at Home’, a book of comforting lockdown recipes compiled by 54 of the UK’s best chefs, is now on sale. All profits are going to Hospitality Action to help hospitality people get back on their feet after a very difficult year.
And fellow bon vivants rejoice! Noble Rot will be opening up their first wine shop in Bloomsbury later this summer.
This article was last updated on 1 April 2021.
Photo of Lurra’s courtyard provided courtesy of Lurra. All other photos by J A Smith.