One of my biggest pet peeves about eating out in London is the whole no-booking policy many restaurants have adopted. It drives me mad. Especially when the places that do it are all the places I want to eat in…Barrafina, Copita, Polpetto, Mildreds, Dishoom, Spuntino, 10 Greek Street, Hoppers etc. (Just FYI, Copita, Polpetto and 10 Greek Street take lunchtime reservations, just not evening ones and Dishoom will take evening bookings but only if you’re a party of 6+, as will Blacklock)

This no booking system puts an end to any planning. When my friends and I want a night out, we want to know we can all meet up in one place and know we will have a table reserved for us to sit at for the next couple of hours. What we don’t want is to be wandering through Soho from queue to queue, working out which queue will go down the fastest whilst we get colder and grumpier. Eating out should be a pleasure, not an endurance test.

Photo: Andy Hall/Observer

And now that its getting colder in the evenings its even more miserable.  In the summer I didn’t mind standing outside with a glass of wine in my hand, waiting to be seated. But no restaurant is good enough to make me stand outside in the cold, wet, miserable rain on the off-chance that I might get a table sometime in the next 30-40 minutes.

Don’t even get me started on the whole “we can’t sit you until your whole party is here” nonsense. What the hell is that all about? What difference does it make to the restaurant if one of your mates is running 10 minutes late? The rest of us are clearly going to be knocking back the wine while we wait.

I do understand the reasoning behind it. Every week I see chefs and restaurants tweeting that they have had a certain number of no-shows that week and have subsequently lost lots of money because of it, but why not just take a deposit? I don’t think people would mind paying a deposit if they were really serious about eating there. Or do half booking, half walk-ins which a lot more restaurants are doing these days. That way we all have a chance.

With this in mind, I’m constantly being asked by friends what restaurants they can book in central London so I decided to do a little research…for myself as much as for them. The list below by no means covers all the restaurants you can book into in these areas, I’m sure I’ve missed out a lot.  However, these are some of my favourites in the areas I tend to frequent the most. I hope it helps you out a bit!

Dean Street Townhouse, Dean Street
Ducksoup, Dean Street
Quo Vadis, Dean Street
Shackfuyu , Old Compton Street (closed until mid-Nov)
La Bodega Negra, Old Compton Street
La Polenteria, Old Compton Street
Balans, Old Compton Street
Bó Drake, Greek Street
Ceviche, Frith Street
Chotto Matte, Frith Street
Jackson & Rye, Wardour Street
Viet Food, Wardour Street
Ember Yard, Berwick Street
Duck & Rice, Berwick Street
Blanchette, D’Arblay Steet
Andrew Edmunds, Lexington Street
Aurora, Lexington Street
Bocca di Lupo, Archer Street
The Palomar, Rupert Street
Bob Bob Ricard, Upper James Street
Yauatcha, Broadwick Street
Randall and Aubin,Brewer Street
Kiln, Brewer Street
MASH, Brewer Street
Hix, Brewer Street
Social Eating House, Poland Street
Brasserie Zédel, Sherwood Street (by Picadilly Circus)
The Wright Brothers, Kingly Court

Cichetti, Wellington Street
Opera Tavern, Catherine Street
Balthazar, Russell Street
Terroirs, William IV Street
Hawksmoor, Langley Street
Tredwells, Upper St Martin’s Lane
Sticks ‘n’ Sushi, Henrietta Street

Picture, Great Portland Street
Portland, Great Portland Street
Riding House Cafe, Great Portland Street
Roka, Charlotte Street
Tsunami, Charlotte Street
Salt Yard, Goodge Street
Honey & Co, Warren Street
Clipstone, Clipstone Street

Best of luck! And if you know of any I have missed out, please do let me know.

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  • Reply Linda 19th December 2015 at 11:49 pm

    Hey, nice to know all those cafes and restaurants do take a booking. But I do like to goto those with no booking too. hahaha I wish they use an app like QTix (QueueTix) to manage their queue so I can do other things while waiting.

    • Reply spoonfulofsugar 20th December 2015 at 3:54 pm

      Well a lot of them will take your number then call you when they’re ready for you. I had a 30 minute wait for WC in Clapham last week but we just went for a drink nearby then they called us when they had a table free. Perfect! But yeah, I do agree, I love all the ones you can’t book into. 😉

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