Wine, dine, and sunshine: New London al fresco spots to try this summer

Good food and good weather is not as frequent a combination as we’d like – here’s where to enjoy the former while the latter lasts.

Barrafina’s contribution to London’s dining scene cannot go unrecognised. It continues with Parrillan, their latest off-shoot found outside Barrafina’s King’s Cross branch. The outdoor restaurant homes in on the summer vibes with simple grilled meats, seafood and vegetables – such as duck, red prawns, and peas in the pod – cooked on portable grills (or ‘parrilla’).

After a hiatus, Atul Kochhar’s brilliant cooking has thankfully found a central home. Just off the main drag of Oxford Circus, no less, making it a good spot for weary shoppers. A handful of pavement tables line the restaurant, but you should be more concerned about what’s coming out of its kitchen – lamb biryani, banana leaf steamed sea bass, and Atul’s signature chicken tikka pie.

 Coal Office
This being a historic building with an interior kitted out by designer Tom Dixon, you’d be forgiven for wanting to stay inside. Booking ahead for a spot outside, however, will net you views over the new and architecturally spectacular Coal Drops Yard. The terrace, which catches good sun due to its height, is made even more appealing when Assaf Granit’s widely celebrated cooking (found in London, Tel Aviv, and his place of birth, Jerusalem) comes with it.

Market Halls Victoria
Market Halls, since its introduction last year, has successfully beefed up Victoria’s lunch credentials with dumplings, roti canai, pastrami sandwiches, udon noodles, and the rest. The space has levelled up for the summer months with an open-air roof terrace overlooking the station and the addition of Soft Serve Society, hoping to cool off visitors with vanilla affogatos and matcha ice cream.

Mayfair newcomer Emilia takes its cues from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy (think aged balsamic vinegars, prosciutto, and, of course, Parmesan). Italophiles can enjoy classics like vitello tonnato and tagliatelle with rabbit and roasted garlic. As Fay Maschler’s guest suggests in her Evening Standard review, on a sunny day the restaurant may provide one of the best lunches in London.

Kricket White City
Kricket’s rise, from a shipping container in Brixton to a trio of restaurants across London, is as assertive as it is welcome. Their latest, out west, is their largest (therefore better for bigger groups). It is also perhaps, their most unique, with a new menu (though some favourites like the samphire pakoras and Keralan fried chicken remain), and a terrace sitting at the foot of the former BBC Television Centre.

The Ivy in the Park
In fashion with what the chain has accomplished throughout the nation now, The Ivy put a lot of its chips into the aesthetic of its Canary Wharf site. Given its surroundings, welcomely so. Scores of plants adorn the restaurant with not one but two terraces offering plenty of cover for when those clouds roll in.

hicce, by former Murano head chef Pip Lacey, has put a fair bit of effort into their outdoor terrace overlooking Coal Drops Yard, even teaming up with indie marketplace Wolf & Badger to pretty up the space with plants and foliage. It all fits in well with hicce’s penchant for grilling, smoking and steaming over the barbecue.

Mercer Roof Terrace
New as of February this year, this summer is the first time guests can enjoy Vintry & Mercer’s sun-trap terrace to the fullest. Highlights include tucking into Dover sole and tomahawk steaks cooked over charcoal while taking in views of London, encompassing the Tate Modern, St. Paul’s, and The Shard.

Visit OpenTable to discover more alfresco dining destinations in London or try one of these riverside restaurants.

This is a guest post from freelance food journalist Hugh Thomas. He’s contributed to Foodism, Time Out, Great British Chefs, and is part of British Street Food’s small team of vigilant writers. Find him on twitter @hughwrites.