London

Like a Local: 7 of the best restaurants in Barbican & Farringdon

by Paul Joseph  |  Published April 27, 2018

Separated by less than a mile, the bustling London districts of Farringdon and Barbican are both at the heart of the city’s business and commercial life. While Barbican is known for its law firms and financial institutions, Farringdon has a more cutting edge reputation, thanks to the large number of creative design agencies located here.

The bar at St John restaurant in Farringdon (Photo: Andreas Ivarsson via Flickr)

When it comes to where to eat in Barbican and Farringdon, there are no shortage of options, whatever your tastes. So whether it’s fine dining or hipster joints that are more to your liking, you’re guaranteed to find it here. We’ve picked out 7 of the best restaurants the two areas have to offer.

La Ferme

Exmouth Market is one of London’s busiest and most cutting-edge foodie hotspots, lined with street stalls by day and augmented by an array of exceptional restaurants that stay open long into the evening. Among them is this oh-so-charming bistro-style eatery that specialises in traditional provincial French food. The space is simple, rustic and elegant and you can be certain that all the ingredients are carefully selected and sourced from the very best producers in France (including local farms), ensuring one of the most authentic French dining experiences anywhere in the capital – all delivered with a quirky and creative twist. There’s a sister restaurant in Primrose Hill, north London, too.

102-104 Farringdon Road, EC1R 3EA

La Ferme

A delicious-looking terrine dish at La Ferme (Photo: La Ferme)

Gatti’s

A consistently popular choice with Barbican’s suited and booted city gents and ladies (not to mention the occasional celebrity from the world of sport or entertainment), this stylish Italian restaurant serves up traditional fare with a modern twist. Open for all day dining, it offers a formal dining experience – think crisp white napery, polished cutlery and sparkling glasses – in a relaxed atmosphere that tempts guests to indulge in extended work lunches and post-office dinners. Cooked to order, all dishes feature fresh ingredients and there’s a regularly changing ‘specials’ menu. A large bar area invites you to relax before and after meals, and for special occasions there’s also a private dining room for up to eight people.

CityPoint, 1 Ropemaker Street, EC2Y 9AL

Gatti's

An elaborate fish dish at Gatti’s (Photo: Gatti’s)

The Quality Chop House

An historic venue and one that’s famous for its hearty food, The Quality Chop House is a regular on lists of London’s best restaurants. And for sheer character and charm, many would even place it as number one. Open since 1869, it boasts an eye-catching Grade-II listed Victorian décor that includes black and white chequerboard flooring and dark wooden furniture. It’s spread over two dining rooms and there’s intimate table as well as booths for larger groups. As for the food, as the name suggests the signature dishes here are the pork and lamb chops, both using meat sourced from renowned British producers. But there’s plenty else to get your mouth salivating too, not least the spectacular confit potatoes, thinly layered into wedges and fried in beef dripping. The wine list is excellent too – and if you have time, there’s a wine shop next door.

88-94 Farringdon Road, Clerkenwell, EC1R 3EA

Bluebird

A signature chop dish at The Quality Chop House (Photo: The Qualiity Chop House)

Osteria

A performing arts centre may not be an obvious location for a funky, modern Italian restaurant, but Osteria bucks the trend in emphatic style. Located on the second floor of the acclaimed Barbican Centre, this excellent eatery has an achingly cool vibe thanks to chequered fabric seats, low lighting and a sax-heavy jazz soundtrack. Dishes are elegantly presented and simply cooked, with standout options including a saddle of rabbit draped with endives, a soft-poached egg perched atop al dente asparagus and aromatic pearl barley. Competing with the food for centre stage are spectacular views over the Barbican Lakeside and fountains. So grab a window seat and buckle up for a meal to remember.

Barbican Centre, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS

Osteria

The swish dining room at Osteria (Photo: Osteria)

Comptoir Gascon

This French bistro-cum-deli is a haven of tranquillity amid the bustling trade of nearby Spitalfields Market. The more casual sibling of its Michelin star-owning counterpart around the corner, the rustic interior is dotted with wooden furniture, and after night falls dimmed lights and twinkling candles lend a touch of romance. But the while the venue’s décor has a distinctly pastoral and stripped-back look and feel, there’s no lack of sophistication when it comes to the food. Specialising in the cuisine of Gascony in southwest France, pig and duck features heavily on the menu, including a superb charcuterie board with saucisson, pâté, rillettes and slivers of cured tongue. Needless to say for a top class French restaurant, the wine doesn’t disappoint either.

63 Charterhouse Street, Clerkenwell, EC1M 6HJ

The Ivy Chelsea

A shot of the entrance at Comptoir Gascon (Photo: Comptoir Gascon Chelsea)

St John

Renowned for its ‘nose to tail’ approach to food which encourages (virtually) no part of an animal to go uneaten, this pioneering restaurant has been attracting adventurous gastronomes for more than twenty years. Part of a mini-empire across the capital which includes a bakery and wine dealership, the Farringdon venue is the mothership and has a coveted Michelin-star to its name. Walking into its minimally decorated confines to discover bare white walls, battered floorboards and tables lined up canteen-style, you feel a world away from fine dining. But once your first dish arrives, the brilliance is revealed. The restaurant is most famous for its revival of offal, and you should certainly try something offal-ey from the menu. Other notable dishes include black cuttlefish and onions served in a supremely deep-flavoured ink-based sauce, and ox tongue with horseradish.

26 St John Street, Farringdon, EC1M 4AY

Made in Italy

Mouth-watering fare at St John (Photo: Ewan Munro via Flickr)

Hix Oyster & Chop House

A mainstay on the London restaurant scene for two decades now, this buzzing eatery is known for its atmosphere as much as its acclaimed food. White wall tiles and a large neon sign that reads ‘fucking beautiful’ is your first indication that pomp and ceremony is not on the agenda, while the informal dress code also adds to the laid-back ambiance. The fare here is contemporary British, with most ingredients sourced from British shores, including Isle of Mull scallops, asparagus and oysters from across these isles. For mains, crusty-topped beef-and-ale pie is a perpetual favourite and don’t be too quick to turn down dessert, either – the sweet treacle tart is one of the best you’ll find anywhere.

36-37, Greenhill Rents, Cowcross Street, EC1M 6BN

Rabbit

Bottles of alcohol sit up high at Hix Oyster & Chop House (Photo: Ewan Munro via Flickr)