Plan your Day

Central London's food scene can be a tough nut to crack. Most AUL Experts agree that we dine outside of central London 9 times for every time we dine within Tube Zone 1. However there are both culinary wonders and reasonably priced good restaurants in central London - you just have to know where to look. Here are a few of our favourites for lunch and dinner, please ask your experts on the day if you require any other recommendations:

Afternoon Tea with a twist...
Sketch, Conduit Street
Sketch Davinia Says: This is afternoon tea with a twist. More traditional options like Claridges or the Ritz are fine if it is your first time partaking in the tradition, but at Sketch it is far more fun. It is half formal, half Mad Hatter's tea party, and is perfect after an Arts Unlocked tour as the restaurant is re- designed by a different artist every few years: the present design is by David Shrigley. I guarantee that after tea here you'll want to stay on for evening drinks or dinner.
Reservation required

Lunch near the National Gallery...
The Crypt Cafe at St Martins in the Fields Church
The Crypt Cafe at St Martins in the Fields Church Antonia Says: This subterranean cafe is literally in the crypt of the Church at St Martin in the fields. It is friendly and usually peaceful, even when the cafes above ground have you waiting for a seat. It is an oasis in this busy area of London and their soups & salads are hearty and worth the price. It's a good place to go with children also.
No need to reserve

Gaby's Deli (For a Picnic)
Gaby's Deli (For a Picnic) Alex Says: When you work at the Portrait Gallery this is a sunny day staple. Gaby's do the best falafel in London and if you're lucky you may be served by Gaby, pictured left. You can go to the counter, choose 5 Mediterranean salads and they will come in a box with falafel and homemade hummus. Then you take it outside and eat it on the steps of Trafalgar square on in a deck chair in St James' park. Only attempt in summer. This is London after all!
No need to reserve

Notes Cafe, St Martins Lane
Notes Cafe, St Martins Lane Estela Says: For good coffee Notes is the best cafe in Covent Garden. It is on the site of an old record store, hence the name. I was sad to see the music shop go, but Notes is a wonderful replacement.
No need to reserve

Dinner near the National Gallery...
Asia de Cuba at the St Martins Lane Hotel486ft. away
Asia de Cuba at the St Martins Lane Hotel Davinia Says: I have loved Asia de Cuba's fusion of South-East Asian and Latin cuisine since I first tasted it over a decade ago. The St Martins Lane Hotel was designed by Philippe Starck and reflects London so well, its best bits being hidden inside an unassuming exterior. Tip - newly refurbished!
Reservation required

The Portrait Restaurant at the National Portrait Gallery0.0 ft. away
The Portrait Restaurant at the National Portrait Gallery Estela Says: I love the NPG's restaurant because it has a glass wall, giving diners a panoramic view of London's rooftops, and it feels more hidden than other high rise restaurants in the city. Go at night or in the rain - it is particularly charming at those times. Also, being on the 3rd floor as opposed to the 33rd, it is far less terrifying than others!
Reservation required

Fire & Stone, Covent Garden0.2 miles away
Fire & Stone, Covent Garden Davinia Says: This is a great option if you don’t have time for a reservation; it is also a good bet if you are travelling with children. The food and cocktails are lovely and there are pizzas inspired by the cuisine from cities across the world. My favourite is the Canberra - chicken, cream cheese and roast potatoes! My tip is to avoid it on weekend evenings as there will be a long wait.
No need to reserve (usually)

Lunch near the V&A...
The V&A café0.0 ft. away
The V&A café Kajal Says: This is the best place for tea and a scone in the area; their salads and hot food are lovely too. Not to mention that it is the most convenient if you are on a V&A tour. It has been described as an exemplar of postmodernism because of the interdependence of its functional furnishing and ornate William Morris shell. My advice? Go for brunch or a late afternoon tea. Lunch time is best experienced elsewhere unless you don’t mind standing to eat.
No need to reserve

Crêperie Crêmerie: The Kensington Creperie0.1 miles away
Crêperie Crêmerie: The Kensington Creperie Nicola Says: Kensington boasts the highest concentration of French people in London. No surprise then, that it has one of the city's best creperies; the surprise comes when you realise that it is run by Italians. This is perhaps why the place also boasts fantastic gelato, and the combination of wonderful savoury crepes and delicious ice-cream has meant that this place is one of the most popular cafes in the area for both lunch and dinner. I most certainly recommend it, especially if visiting with children.
No need to reserve

Dinner near the V&A...
Mango Tree, Belgravia1.3 miles away
Mango Tree, Belgravia Antonia Says: It's a short cab ride from the V&A and is in my opinion some of London's best Thai food, with a lovely atmosphere. On a weekend evening you will need to reserve. It is lovely and quiet for lunch, and is close to Buckingham Palace and Hyde Park for sightseeing.
Reservation required

Babylon at the Kensington Roof Gardens1.2 miles away
Babylon at the Kensington Roof Gardens Davinia Says: This restaurant has been a treat spot for me since my early 20s. Another restaurant with lovely views, excellent food, well designed space and in the summer, access to the roof gardens; It's celebrating 30 years of being owned by Richard Branson.
Reservation required

The Beirut Express0.3 miles away
The Beirut Express Kajal Says: This place is small and slightly unpretentious, as are many of the restaurants where you will find London's best food. I have loved eating here since studying for my MA at the V&A. It specializes wonderful, authentic Lebanese food, being a branch of the Maroush chain that began on Edgware road, the heart of Middle Eastern London. If you want the real deal, the Beirut Express is for you. Listen to the conversations of your fellow diners; you may well be surrounded by V&A staff after work!
No need to reserve