Victorian London - Entertainment and Recreation - Restaurants - list of restaurants

DINING-ROOMS.—In the matter of dining London presents many aspects. The visitor may dine well and respectably for a shilling, or luxuriously for a guinea. He has all the choice between a quiet chop or dish of meat and vegetables, at rooms like the Clarence, in Leadenhall-street, for about a shilling or fifteenpence; and a "three-course and dessert" spread at the Cafe de I'Europe, the St. James's, or Verey's. If he wishes to take a middle line, neither expensive nor too saving, he may go to Dicks, the London, the Rainbow, or the Mitre, in Fleet-street; Simpson's, in the Strand; or John o' Groat's, Rupert-street, Haymarket. If his taste and business take him to the City, he will find himself well served at Lake's, in Cheapside; Cheshire Cheese, Wine-offlcecourt, Fleet-street; His Lordship's Larder, Cheapside ; or, indeed, at any of the Cheapside or Bucklersbury houses. For a first-rate chop or steak go to Joe's, in Finch-lane, Cornhill; for admirable boiled beef, there is Williams's, in the Old Bailey ; for a capital dinner, well served with real turtle and cold punch, there is Painter's, the Ship and Turtle, in Leadenhall-street; for a rapid meal, well cooked, there is the Thiee Herrings, Bellyard, Temple-bar; for a good, pluin, cheap dinner or luncheon, quickly served, go to Reeves', in Pope's-head-alley, Cornhill; everything is capital there. But if you want anything very cheap, and not particularly nice, you may find it in almost every bye-street, where hot joints smoke and steam in the windows, and you may get your appetite appeased by the scent of the dishes before you have put a morsel in your mouth. Remember Mr. Punch's advice to diners—What to eat, drink, and avoid: Turtle, Champagne, and Ham Sandwiches for a penny!
    Many excellent hotels and taverns have a luncheon-bar, at which during the day you may have a chop, or a snack and a glass of ale for sixpence, or a plate of hot meat, with vegetables and bread, for about eightpence. These are plentiful in the Strand, Fleet-street, Cheapside, and Holborn. For a good cup of tea and a chop try Wyatt's at the corner of Wellington-street, Strand ; or Purcell's, pastrycooks, Fleet-street; or Birch's, pastrycooks, Cornhill ; or Button's, Chancery-lane, at which there is, as also at Purcell's, a reading and chess-room ; and if you want to smoke, play chess, take coffee, and lounge at one and the same time, go to the Divan in the Strand, nearly opposite Exeter Hall. Most of the pastrycooks have now a wine license; and for a light meal, when you have a lady with you, there are several admirably conducted houses between Brompton and the Bank.
By all means dine once at Billingsgate; and once at Strange's—the Saloon Dining-room at the Crystal Palace; and before you leave town do not neglect to take a chop and hear the singing at " Paddy Green's," Evans' Hotel, in Covent Garden. Chops and steaks are among the specialities of this and most good London taverns.

The Popular Guide to London and Its Suburbs, 1862


    IN THE CITY: Dolly's, Queen's Head Passage, Paternoster Row; the Cock, 201 Fleet Street; the Cheshire Cheese, 16 Wine Office Court, Fleet Street; "Joe's" and "Ned's," Finch Lane, Cornhill: these houses have a celebrity for steaks, chops, and kidneys. The Three Tuns Billingsgate, is noted for its fish ordinary (1s. 6d. with meat and cheese, daily at 1 and 4 p.m.); the Salutation, Newgate Street, provides a good 1s. 6d. ordinary for 1s. 6d.; Williams's, Old Bailey, has a reputation for its boiled beef; the Ship and Turtle, Leadenhall Street, for turtle; while for general excellence we may name the Rainbow, Dick's, the Mitre, and the London, all in Fleet Street.
    WEST END: The Wellington (late Crockford's), 160 Piccadilly; St. James's Hall, Regent Street; Verrey's, corner of Hanover Street, Regent Street; Bertolini's, St. Martin's Lane; Rouget's, Castle Street, Leicester Square; Simpson's Divan, 103 Strand; Cooper's Albion, Drury Lane; Jaquet's, Clare Court, Drury Lane (famous for its a-la-mode beef); the Blue Posts, Cork Street, Piccadilly (for steaks and punch); the Albany, Piccadilly; John o' Groat's, Regent Street, Haymarket; Pye's Dining-Rooms, Church Place, Piccadilly; the Green Man and Still, Oxford Street; and the Scotch Stores, corner of New Burlington Street, Regent Street.
    A man with the wherewithal may always dine and sup well in London, and at no extravagant cost. The Restaurants and Dining-Rooms of Continental cities are less comfortable, less cleanly, provide no better fare, and charge no lower rates.
    Supper-Houses: Simpson's Divan, Strand; Wilton's, Great Ryder Street, St. James's; the Albion, Drury Lane; Evans's, Covent Garden; the Coal Hole, Strand; the Cyder Cellars and Rule's, Maiden Lane; Duboury's, Heming's, the Hotel de l'Europe, Scott's, and Quisen's, in the Haymarket; Dr. Johnson's, the Cock, the Rainbow, and Dick's, in Fleet Street.
    For White Bait: Lovegrove's, and the Royal Brunswick Blackwall; The Ship, and the Trafalgar, Greenwich; and Palliser's, Gravesend.
    For Fashionable Dinners: The Star and Garter, and the Castle, at Richmond.

Cruchley's London in 1865 : A Handbook for Strangers, 1865

DINING-ROOMS. - In the matter of dining London presents many aspects. The visitor may dine well and respectably for a shilling, or luxuriously for a guinea. He has all the choice between a quiet chop or a dish of meat and vegetables, at rooms like Lake's in Gracechurch-st.. for about a shilling or fifteenpence; and a "three-course and dessert" spread at the Gaiety Restaurant, Strand, the St. James's, the Burlington, Regent-street. Verey's well-known cafe, Regent-street, or the "Lombard" an admirable and economical restaurant in Lombard-court, Lombard-street. Those who require a good dinner at a moderate price may go to the London, the Rainbow, or the Mitre, in Fleet-street; Simpson's, in the Strand; or John O'Groats, or the Solferino, Rupert-street, Haymarket. If his taste and business take him to the City, he will find himself well served at The London, in Fleet-street, corner of Chancery-lane; Spiers and Pond's great dining room at the Mansion House Station, or their excellent restaurant at Ludgate Station; The Cathedral, St. Paul's Churchyard; Crosby Hall, in Bishopsgate, or the King's Head, Fenchurch-street, in which are capital billiard-rooms. A great variety of dishes, and two, three, four, or five course dinners at very moderate' prices, from one to ten shillings, may be obtained at the City Restaurant, Milk-street, Cheapside, where there is a first-rate smoking- room, a large, airy billiard-room, and special provision for ladies. For real turtle and cold punch, there is Painter's, the Ship and Turtle, in Leadenhall-street, and the well-known Birch's, in Cornhill.
    Many excellent hotels and taverns have a luncheon-bar, at which during the day you may have a chop, or a snack for sixpence, or a plate of hot meat, with vegetables and bread, for about eightpence.  These are to be found in the Strand, Fleet-street, Holborn, and the City. For a first-rate cup of tea or coffee try Crosby Hall; or the King's Head, Fenchurch-street, at which there is a reading and chess-room ; and if you want to smoke, play chess, take coffee, and lounge at one and the same time, go to Spiers and Pond's at Mansion House Station, to the Lombard, to Milk-street (City Restaurant), or to Simpson's Divan in the Strand.
    By all means dine once at the fish ordinary at Bird-in-hand-court, Cheapside; and once at the Saloon Dining-room at the Crystal Palace. Ladies will find special provision for comfort at Crosby hall, Bishopsgate; at Spiers and Pond's, Mansion House Station ; at Lake's, Gracechurch-street; at the Cathedral, corner of St. Paul's Churchyard ; at the Burlington, Regent-street (corner of Burlington-street) ; and at almost all the principal stations on the Metropolitan line of railway.

Routledge's Popular Guide to London, [c.1873]

Dining-rooms and Restaurants.

    § 21. For large public or private dinners:      
    Willis's Rooms,
King-street, St. James's.
    St. James's Hall,
Regent-street and Piccadilly; and Piccadilly (rebuilt and enlarged, 1875).
The Pall Mall, 14, Regent-street, SW.
Albion Tavern, in Aldersgate-street City.
The Freemasons' Tavern, Great Queen-street, Drury-lane.


    Ship and Turtle, Leadenhall-street, famous for its turtle. 
15, Cornhill, confectioner, famous for soups, jellies, &c., one of the oldest shops in London. 
5, Gracechurch-st., confectioners, luncheons, &c. 
    The Palmerston,
34, Old Broad-st. and 93, Bishopsgate-st., dining, luncheon, smoking, and billiard rooms. 
Queen's Head Passage, Paternoster-row
    Crosby hall, Bishopsgate-street, interesting for its history and Gothic architecture (see § xxv.), is now a restaurant, with a luncheon bar, much frequented, prices moderate.
The King's head, Fenchurch-st. (rebuilt. Queen Elizabeth is said to have dined here on her return from the Tower, 1554).
Anchor, Lake and Turner's, 66, Cheapside.
Simpson's, 38½, Cornhill, and Ball-court.
The Jamaica, St. Michael's-alley, Cornhill, chops, steaks, &c.
Pursell's, 78, Cornhill, and Finch-lane, frequented by foreigners.
Thomas' (the old George and Vulture of Pickwick renown), George-yard, Lombard-st.
The Lombard, Lombard-court.
The Colonial and the Commercial luncheon rooms, Nos. 9 and 38 Mincing-lane, respectively.
Three Tuns Tavern, 8, Billingsgate Market, is the celebrated fish ordinary, at 1 and 4 p.m., 2s.
Pimm's, 3 to 5, Poultry.
Woolpack, St. Peter's-alley, E.C.
The Gresham, 21, Bucklersbury (Lake and Turner).
Salutation, 17, Newgate-street.
    In the neighbourhood of Cheapside there are several clean and excellent dining-rooms, where you may lunch from 3d. upwards.
    In Fleet-street, the Cock, No. 201, for steaks and chops.
The Old Cheshire Cheese, 16, Wine Office-court, famous for its beef-steak puddings.
    Also The Rainbow, and the Mitre.
The London Restaurant, corner of Chancery Lane, good for chops, beefsteaks, or joints, at moderate prices. N.B. A separate dining-room for ladies.
Messrs. Spiers & Pond's Refreshment Rooms at the Holborn Viaduct, Ludgate-hill, and Mansion House Stations, are good.
    It is customary to give the waiter 1d. if your dinner is under 1s., and so on in proportion, but never to exceed 6d. each person.


    The Criterion, Piccadilly, Spiers & Pond, contains luncheon and dining-rooms, besides a theatre and music-hall, decorated in sumptuous style. Table d'hote daily, 3s. 6d. Parisian dinner daily, 5s. Capital grill-room.
St. James's Hall, Piccadilly and Regent's Quadrant - Luncheon hall for ladies. Table d'hôte daily 3s. 6d., band, &c.
Rule's, 24, Maiden-lane, Covent Garden, for oysters
Verrey's, 229, Regent-street, corner of Hanover-street - good French cookery and wines. Expensive.
Café Royal, 68, Regent-street - good foreign cookery and French wines.
The Holborn, High Holborn, dinner a la carte, 3s. 6d., band, &c.
Gaiety Restaurant, Strand, rebuilt 1878, good and reasonable. Dinner, 3s. 6d.
The Grosvenor Gallery Restaurant, 134, Bond-street, good table d'hote, 5s., luncheon off the joint 2s. 6d. 12 to 4 daily.
The Burlington (Blanchard's), 169, Regent-street, corner of New Burlington-street. Dinner a la carte, or at fixed prices, varying from 5s. to 10s. 6d.
Lucas, 37, Parliament-street, Westminster.
Vaudeville Restaurant, 399, Strand, reasonable.
Pamphilon, 17, Argyll-street, Oxford-street.
Blanchard's, 5, Beak-street, Regent-street, good; moderate.
Beadell's, confectioner, 8, Vere-st. good for ladies' luncheons.
Kuhn's, 29, Hanover-street, Regent-street.
Simpson's Divan Tavern, 103, Strand. - The great saloon is fitted up like a French Restaurant.
The Royal Aquarium, Westminster. Dinners at 3s. 6d. and 5s., exclusive of 1s. entrance money.
The Albany, 190, Piccadilly, cheap.
Wilton's, 2, Ryder-street, St. James's. Oysters and stout in perfection.
    For foreigners:-
Panton Hotel, 28, Panton-street, Haymarket.
Hotel Previtali, 14, Arundel-street, Covent Garden.
Kettner's, 29, Church-street, Soho.

The Albion, in Russell-street, Covent-garden. 
in Covent-garden, ballad and glee singing, admission 1s.
Hotel de l'Europe, close to :the Haymarket Theatre, and the fish-shops, such as Scott's, top of Haymarket; Rule's, 24, Maiden Lane; Baron's, Haymarket, and many others.
    CITY SUPPER-HOUSES - The Cock, the Rainbow, Lynn's, 70, Fleet-street, for oysters, &c -, Prosser's, 202, Fleet-street, and Mitre Tavern (all in or off Fleet-street), are the chief houses resorted to after the theatres.
    CITY DINNERS. - The stranger who wishes to see City feasting in all its glory, should procure an invitation to one of the banquets of the City Companies in their own halls. The Goldsmiths' dinners, given in their magnificent hall, behind the General Post Office, exhibit a grand display of gold plate. The Fishmongers', Merchant Taylors', &c., Companies are famous for their cookery, and the antique character of their bills of fare - still maintaining the baron of beef; the boar's-head, the swan, the crane, the ruff, and many other delicacies of the days of Queen Elizabeth. After these dinners "the loving cup" goes round. In the Carpenters' Company, the new master and wardens are crowned with silver caps at their feast; at the Clothworkers', a grand procession enters after dinner. Similar customs prevail at other of the great Companies' banquets, and all the dinners are first-rate.
    The suburban dining-houses are the Star and Garter, the Queen's, and the Castle, at Richmond; the Ship, and Trafalgar, at Greenwich, and the Ship at Gravesend; these are famous for their white-bait. Crystal Palace Restaurant, Sydenham. A lexandra Palace, Muswell Hill. Royal Hotel, Purfleet, &c.
    CAFES on the foreign principle, where light refreshment, coffee, chocolate, cigars, &c., may be had, are:-
Gatti's, Adelaide-street, W.C., and Villiers-street, Strand, under the Chaining Cross Station.
Café Monico, 15, Tichbourne-street, W.
Café Royal, 68, Regent-street.

    CONFECTIONERS AND PASTRY COOKS - Gunter & Co., 7, Berkeley-square, famous for ices; Gunter, 15, Lowndes-street, Lowndes-sqre. ; Grange, 176, Piccadilly; Michels, 19, Sloane-street; Rope, 27, Hyde Park-place; Searcy, 55, Connaught- street, W. Duclos, 86, Oxford-street; Elphinstone's, 188 & 227, Regent-street; Bonthron's, 106, Regent-street.

Murray's Handbook to London As It Is, 1879

[ ... back to main menu for this book]

Restaurants.—A very few years ago the expectant diner, who required, in the public rooms of London, something better than a cut off the joint, or a chop or steak, would have had but a limited number of tables at his command. A really good dinner was almost entirely confined to the regions of club-land, and with one or two exceptions, respectable restaurants, to which a lady could be taken, may be said hardly to have existed at all. Artful seekers after surreptitious good dinners, who knew their London well, certainly had some foreign houses in the back settlements of Soho or of Leicester-square, to which they pinned their faith, but the restaurant, as it has been for many years understood in Paris, practically had no place in London. Time, which has changed the London which some of us knew, as it has changed most of the habits of society, has altered all this. It is probably trite that even now it is impossible to dine in public in London as well as that important ceremony can be performed in Paris. We have still no Café Riche or Café Anglais. The Maison Dorée of London that shall compare with that gilded and delightful, but all too expensive show in Paris, has still to be organised. Bignon is not for us as yet, nor Vachette. But so much has been done in twenty years, that those among us who are still respectably young, may look forward to the day when the glories— and the prices—of the Boulevard des Italiens may be ours. However that may be, one thing is certain ; that if you know where to go, and how to arrange your campaign, you can dine as well in London, in all styles and at all prices, as any reasonable gourmet can wish. Whether the hungry man or woman chooses to dine a la carte or on the table d’hote system, he or she must be difficult to please if London cannot produce something satisfactory. All that we propose to attempt in this article is to give some guide to the gastronomic chart of London. To box the entire compass would be impossible in the space at our command, and we must still leave whole continents to the curious explorer. If any table d’hote Stanley, or a la carte Cameron will communicate their future discoveries to us, the compilers of the Dictionary will do their best in future editions to keep the public properly posted on this most important subject.
Perhaps the oldest of the real restaurants in London is Verrey’s, in Regent-street, which still holds an excellent position among the a la carte houses. Somewhat in the line of Verrey’s, though on a larger scale, is Nicols’s, Café Royal, 68, Regent-street. At both these houses, people who know how to order their dinners will be thoroughly well served. It should be noted that the visitor who wishes to dine well at the Café Royal, or to dine in a private room, should go upstairs. Almost, if not quite as good as these houses, are Spiers and Pond’s Criterion, Piccadilly; the Grosvenor Restaurant, 136, New Bond-street; and the St. James’s Hall, Regent-street and Piccadilly. The specialty of these houses lies in their table d’hôte dinners. At the Criterion the table d’hote is served daily in the Grand Hall from 5.30 to 8 (on Sundays at 6), at 3s. 6d. ; the French dinner at the same hours, in the West Room, is 5s. per head. There is also a “joint” dinner at 2s. 6d. in the room on the right of the Piccadilly entrance ball. The table d’hote at the Grosvenor Restaurant is served from 5.30 to 8.30 at 5s.; and at St. James’s Hall the hours are 5.30 to 9, and the price 3s. 6d, and for the French dinner 5s. The Burlington, at the corner of New Burlington-street and Regent-street, is also well known for its set dinners at 5s, 7s. 6d, and 10s. 6d. The same prices are charged at the Pall Mall for the same sort of entertainment. Bertram & Roberts at the Royal Aquarium, provide two excellent dinners, one at 3s. 6d. and the other at 5s. The entrance to the hall is 1s, which must be added in estimating the price of the dinner. Strangers (even if not staying in the house) can also dine in the coffee-rooms, or at the table d’hote dinners at the following, among other, hotels: the Langham, 6s, at 6 o’clock; Inns of Court Hotel, 5s., at 6 oclock; the Midland (6 and 7.30, on Saturdays, and Sundays at 6 only), at 5s; and for a quieter dinner, Dieudonnes, in Ryder-street, at 6.30, for 4s, is well spoken of. It is worth a pilgrimage to the City to taste turtle soup and “fixings” at the “Ship and Turtle,” Leadenhall-street. Among other dinners may be mentioned the table d’hote at the Gaiety Restaurant of Messrs. Spiers & Pond, adjoining the Gaiety Theatre (3s. 6d); of the Holborn Restaurant at 218, Holborn (3s. 6d), with the specially of a selection of music by a good band during dinner-time; of the “Horseshoe”, Tottenham-court-rd (3s. 6d.). The Caledonian Hotel, Robert-street, Adelphi, also offers a 2s. 6d. table d’hote at 6 o’clock. Houses of a foreign type are very numerous, and of every order of merit; Kettner’s, Church-street, Soho (table d’hote, also a la carte), and Provitali’s, 14, Arundel-st, Coventry-street (table d’hote, 6.30 at 2s. 6d) enjoy as good a reputation as any. The “Globe,” 4, Coventry-street; the “Solferino,” 7, Rupert-street; the Sablonière Hotel, Leicester-square; Vargue’s Hotel de L’Europe, Leicester-square, and Bertolini’s, 32, St. Martin’s-street, Leicester-square, are alternative foreign houses, where a dinner may be had at moderate prices. At Romano’s Vaudeville Restaurant, 399, Strand, an unpretentious but well-cooked dinner may be relied on. If you take the trouble to order your dinner some hours beforehand, few of the smaller houses in London will do better than this. The old-fashioned fish and joint dinner, where the hungry Briton can “cut and come again,” still holds its own here and there. The best houses of this class are the “Albion,” Great Russell-street (opposite Drury-lane Theatre), where during the season an excellent haunch of venison is served every Tuesday and Thursday at 6 o’clock; Simpson’s, Strand; and the “Rainbow,” Fleet-street. The average charge for joint, cheese, &c, may be taken at 2s. 6d., with fish usually a1. extra. Carr’s, 265, Strand, where also the cut off the joint is the staple commodity, has the credit of having been the first house in London to recognise the public want of a cheap bottle of claret. It must be specially remembered in ordinary dinner a la carte at the foreign houses, that, as a general rule, “what is enough for one is enough for two.” If the waiter, on taking an order for two persons, enquires whether you wish one portion or two, it is certain that one is enough. If the point be not raised by the Waiter, the enquiry should be made by the diner.
It will be gathered from the foregoing summary that there are plenty of good dinners to be got in London, and of every kind and class, but unfortunately there is one point on which the conservatism of London caterers has not yet given way. The prices charged for wines—except so far as regards the light kinds of claret &c.—are uniformly absurd. Now that dining in public has become a recognised institution, it seems preposterous that a man should be charged twice as much for a bottle of champagne at a restaurant as it will cost him if supplied by his own wine merchant. Of course there is an obvious answer to this. Such matters as interest of money &c.
are always brought forward in justification of exorbitant prices for wines. When you come to vintage clarets and old bottled ports, this is no doubt all very well; but when, in 1879, you are called upon to pay 10s. or 12s. a bottle for wine bottled in about 1877, it would certainly seem as if there must be something wrong somewhere. (Also see CHOPS AND STEAKS, DINNERS, and FISH DINNERS.)

Charles Dickens (Jr.), Dickens's Dictionary of London, 1879

I do not find many places to dine. There is the Cafe Royal, in Regent Street, a first-class restaurant much frequented by French refugees ; Verrey's, a bit more sedate; Scott's, at the top of the Haymarket ; the St. James', given over to the jeunesse doree; and Simpson's, in the Strand. You cannot get a meal anywhere after ten o'clock  at night, except at old Dolaro's supper club, in Percy Street, off the Tottenham Court Road, where the prices are high and no change is given. Selina Dolaro, his wife, who used to be a comic opera singer, is the chief barkeeper. You can also get a fair meal at the Continental Hotel, at the foot of Regent Street, but it isn't a very ideal place. If an average Londoner has a visiting friend, he either takes him to his house for lunch or dinner, or to his club. The clubs are usually crowded at seven, the dinner hour, during the season. Just now they are deserted, for 90 per cent of the members are on the moors in the North, shooting grouse and partridges. It is good to be in London again. I love to sit on the top of an omnibus watching the vista of black silk hats, like dark poppy fields. You can no more separate a Londoner from his top hat and his shiny black brief bag, which every self- respecting Briton carries to and from his office, than you can separate the Ethiopian from his skin. Had lunch at Groom's, in Fleet Street to-day, with Mr. Cock, Q.C., a famous lawyer. Groom's is a funny narrow little shop frequented mostly by lawyers from the adjoining Temple. You get an excellent chop for a very small sum. 

R.D.Blumenfeld's Diary, October 3, 1890