A trip to London wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the family-friendly but eminently enjoyable (for everybody) South Bank. Stretching all the way along the, yes, south bank of the River Thames from Westminster Bridge to Tower Bridge, it’s jam-packed full of supreme attractions; not just the populist favourites like the London Eye, the Sea Life London Aquarium and The London Dungeon, but also the awesome culturally significant venues that are the National Theatre, the Southbank Centre, the British Film Institute (BFI; with its specialist cinemas), the Tate Modern and the Shakespeare’s Globe would-be-Tudor/ Jacobean playhouse.
So then, simply so much to see and do… but what about sustenance? You’ll doubtless be ravenous after checking out all that (too hungry perhaps to wait for a meal on your return to your accommodation, however esteemed it may be; like San Domenico House, one of the many hotels near Sloane Square), so where can you eat in this vicinity…?
(Royal Festival Hall SE1 8XX)
Skylon Restaurant is set in the middle of the vibrant Southbank with its floor-to-ceiling windows looking out across the Thames. Serving up a menu as magnificent as that view, and we can vouch that the Brunch is something very special indeed.
Bao Fa Garden Restaurant & Bar
(County Hall, Riverside Building Queens Walk, Westminster Bridge Road SE1 7PB)
This stylish Chinese restaurant’s interior boasts the atmosphere of an old country house drawing room, with views over the water to the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, while its head chef possesses more than 28 years’ experience; 14 years in Chinese cuisine, during which time he won many awards, as well as 14 years in classic fusion cuisine working in Poland and Canada as well as elsewhere in the UK.
(Concert Hall Approach SE1 8XU)
This restaurant and wine bar is something of a South Bank landmark in itself, set in to the old railway arches surrounding Waterloo Station. The first restaurant in its area, The Archduke’s gone through several incarnations since its 1979 opening but is still as fresh as ever; with sleek, simple furniture set against the old bare brick walls and contemporary glass frontage. Meanwhile, jazz melodies gently float on the air throughout the establishment, performed by artists six nights a week live in the place’s bar, as diners indulge in comforting modern European cuisine including excellent steaks and simple roast chicken served with a choice of sides dishes.
(1 Addington Street SE1 7RY)
Located just minutes away from Big Ben and all the sundry South Bank attractions (as well as, of course, Waterloo Station), this highly acclaimed restaurant serves up an Italian–inspired menu in a relaxed and family-friendly atmosphere. Its chefs prepare freshly baked authentic Italian pizza, tasty pasta dishes, succulent steak and so very much more. Be sure to ask about the daily specials – they’re always supreme; you can be guaranteed of that.
Troia Bar & Restaurant
(3F Belvedere Road, County Hall SE1 7GQ)
Finally, this smart glass-fronted café -cum-restaurant-cum-bar, effectively next-door neighbour with the Royal Festival Hall and more, can be called on to rustle up different 82-dishes daily (excluding set, special and children meals) and – in particular – it offers a comprehensive taste of Turkey’s national (and, don’t doubt it, healthy) diet. That means there’s kisir, a cold starter of nuts, bulgar wheat, herbs and spring onions all going on, all day long. Hearty mains include kuzu guvec, a lamb casserole, and a delicious marriage of runner beans and onions served with a rich tomato sauce and rice called yesil fasulye. Plus, there are fish, pasta, rice and special veggie dishes too. Desserts make a refreshing change from treacle pudding and cheesecake as well – how about kaymakh kestane (sweet chestnuts sprinkled with chestnuts and served with home-made cream)? How about it, indeed!