‘When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life,” the saying goes. And while quirky restaurants likely did not factor into Samuel Johnson’s proclamation, the fact is this city has some of the most unusual dining experiences in the world. Thanks to outlandish settings, creative food and rousing in-house entertainment, there’s no chance for foodies to get bored. What’s on the menu? Here’s but a sampling:
A red interior scattered with fake palm trees, Buddha statues and peacock feathers mark this place as one of London’s most exotic eateries. So does the food, which includes crispy zebra “jerky,” python carpaccio and pan-fried crickets.
Must-try dish: crocodile wrapped in vine leaves with honey poached plums and pickled samphire. 53 Cleveland St.; archipelago-restaurant.co.uk
You won’t be dining amid elephants balancing on giant balls or skipping bears, but Circus does boast a bevy of human performers. Aerialists, contortionists and fire-eating dancers are just some of those who’ll entertain you as pan-Asian delicacies tickle the buds.
Must-try dish: red chilli miso black cod with pickled ginger and lime. 27-29 Endell St.; circus-london.co.uk
Dans le Noir
The catch here: Everybody eats in complete darkness. Guided by blind staff, you select a choice from four mystery meals. By eliminating visuals, the restaurant promises you will “enter a whole new world in which one is uncertain of their surroundings.”
Must-try dish: It’s a surprise! 30-31 Clerkenwell Green; london.danslenoir.com
Gilgamesh Restaurant Bar and Lounge
The standout at this pan-Asian noshery is the high-ceilinged dining area, which features a retractable roof and huge glass windows. Indian-inspired, carved wooden panelling and a stone lapis bar also lend to the visual drama.
Must-try dish: Chilean sea bass marinated with sweet plum miso and cooked in a hoba leaf. The Stables Market, Chalk Farm Road; gilgameshbar.com
Nostalgic shabby chic rules at this recreation of a pre-Revolution Russian parlour room. Ornate chandeliers, nesting dolls and vintage photographs create a homey, vintage atmosphere. The food, fittingly, is Eastern European favourites.
Must-try dish: beef stroganoff served with buckwheat and mushrooms in truffle oil. The Wellington Court, 116 Knightsbridge; marivanna.ru
The remarkable layout includes 10 opera boxes, so it’s not surprising that you’ll be serenaded with that type of music in this opulent restaurant. Every Sunday lunch and evening, and on Monday nights, singers backed by a string quartet share dulcet tones as an accompaniment to Mediterranean cuisine.
Must-try dish: penne arrabiata with spicy tomato and basil sauce. 126 Drury Lane; sarastro-restaurant.com