London’s Most Charming Garden Restaurants
As the Chelsea Flower Show packs up for another year, visitors looking for a floral fix should head to one of these lush garden restaurants.
The Ivy Chelsea Garden: A new outpost of the celebrity hotspot recently opened in up-market Chelsea. Inside, the all-day bistro is glossy and smart; outside there’s a pretty greenhouse and huge terrace filled with roses, fountains and trailing wisteria. Here, you can savor grilled halloumi and kale hash browns ($14) for breakfast in a venue that’s beautiful and sceney, just like its King’s Road location.
The Keeper’s House Garden at the Royal Academy: Royal Academy members do well to keep this courtyard a relative secret. It’s attached to the Keeper’s House, an elegant modern British restaurant, and serves the same menu of garden soups and salads along with carefully sourced meat and fish (mains from around $19). High walls create a sense of privacy; plants including huge ferns are, like the art inside, creatively displayed. The tiny oasis is frequently the setting for large-scale sculpture by high-profile artists (currently Allen Jones’s Artisan II).
Blixen: East London florists Grace and Thorn have filled the garden of this informal Spitalfields bistro with potted cacti and trailing Ivy. Tables have been built around trees or are surrounded by Cheese Plants, and the crowd-pleasing food is classic and well priced (sea bream with white beans and broccolini for $14). Given the inclement British summer weather, its location next to old Spitalfields market means the garden helpfully is outside but undercover.
Salon at Spring: Salon is the just-opened offshoot of Skye Gyngell’s lauded Spring—an affordable, no reservations sibling in the conservatory on the same Somerset House property. Wicker chairs and striped yellow cushions give it an outdoorsy feel, trees and grasses surround the tables, and huge botanical-themed tiles line the walls. Dishes such as Ortiz anchovies on toast ($8) or St. Jude with shaved fennel and rye crackers ($7) are light, seasonal and best served with a cocktail from the small but perfectly formed list.
Petersham Nurseries: One of the original (and probably still the best) of London’s outdoor dining spots (pictured at top), this classic restaurant is attached via trellised walkways to a charming garden center (the kind filled with old terracotta pots and tumbling lavender). The hand-written menu nods to Slow Food with shaved albigna artichokes with Amalfi lemon, parmesan and pea shoots ($9) or roast speckled hen with mascarpone prosciutto and wild tops ($25).
Jimmy’s Secret Garden: This temporary rooftop restaurant above a pub in Clapham, South London, is the brainchild of TV chef and pop-up maestro Jimmy Garcia. It’s fun and funky—you can book to eat “from the patch,” at a picnic table, or order a “hangover-curing” cocktail to drink in the hammock. Lurid astroturf, fake trees and a bright-yellow caravan mural add to the fun. Until August only.