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How to Visit London like a Chef

Chef Jonathan Waxman lays out his favorite places to eat in London, what to do, and where to spend the night.

Chef Jonathan Waxman recently masterminded Jams at 1 Hotel Central Park in New York City, and then soon after opened Brezza Cucina at Ponce City Market in Atlanta. Despite his busy summer, he made time to escape to one of his favorite cities, London. Here, he shares his favorite spots in the English capital.

Where to Stay

The Beaumont
Jeremy King has fashioned a new/old vintage hotel in an art deco garage. The hotel is the paradigm of splendor—think butlers and heated marble floors—and there are teapots in every room so you can self-brew. The restaurant is a version of what New York luxury palaces must have been like in the '20s and '30s, with wood-paneled walls, tons of real silver, a menu that speaks well and simply to plain luxury, and a comfortable environment in which to hang out. Perfectly located just one block from Selfridges and two blocks from the American embassy, the Beaumont is a wonderful, welcoming hotel."

The Connaught
“I have been going to The Connaught for 40 years. I have sat next to Lauren Bacall, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., and I have exhaled the delicious odor of pure luxury. It is like a private club that requires no membership, just a credit card. The restaurant (now run by chef Hélène Darroze, who hails from the southwest region of France) is perfect—breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The parlors are great for tea or a quiet conversation with someone you love. The rooms still have an old luxury, melded with all the modern conveniences. But it is the service, which is very British and friendly, that sets it apart; they would do anything for you!”

Where to Eat

Afternoon tea at the Wolseley
The Wolseley
“The Wolseley is the premier restaurant in London. Run by my dear buddies Chris Corbin and Jeremy King, this is the place you want to be. The restaurant has magnificent 1920s décor from an ex–auto showroom, stunning service, a very friendly, knowledgeable staff, and a menu that I want to eat. It’s open breakfast, lunch, tea, pre-theater, dinner, post-theater, and brunch. Restaurants don’t get any better than this!"

St. JOHN

“St. JOHN is the citadel of British farm cookery. Chef Fergus Henderson is a legend and a national treasure. Basically self-trained, he has transformed British food. He loves the raw (perfect oysters, served plain), offal (bone marrow, beef heart, and so on), the sublime (grouse, pheasant, and partridge in season), and British schoolboy desserts (such as treacle pies). The restaurant is located in a stark, all-white former 18th-century dairy and serves just about the best food I can imagine.”

Hix 
“Mark Hix is funny, smart, laid-back, and above all, the expert on British country recipes and ingredients. He loves the amazing bounty of the local seas and land and is totally enamored with old recipes from different culinary spots around the British Isles. Whether he’s cooking with slip sole from the Jurassic Coast, Scottish Highland beef, or Dublin Bay prawns, he structures his menus to mirror the seasons. Asparagus is prepared only when it’s good, strawberries when they are bursting with ripeness, and oysters when they are at their briniest best. His cocktail bar downstairs is a must-see.”

What to Do

Tate Modern
Museums: "The Tate Modern and Tate Britain are spectacular. The British Museum is daunting. The V&A Museum is truly a gift. But my favorite is the National Gallery."

Shopping: "Jermyn Street for clothes and cheese, and Fortnum & Mason in Islington for fun shopping. I also love Harrods and Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge."

Theater: "The venues are much smaller than our NY equivalent, so they are intimate and visceral."

Street scenes: "I love walking along by the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens are just a delight."

Food Market: Borough Market is a food odyssey.

>>Next: 5 Reasons to Explore England Outside of London