Ask a hundred people on the street what their favourite cuisine is and I’d bet good money that you wouldn’t get more than five people who would answer that question with: “British”. French, Italian, Indian, and Chinese food all hold a much firmer place in the hearts and stomachs of most Brits than the food that’s considered “native” to the isle. I think that’s partly because defining British cuisine is, in and of itself, a difficult task.
The perfect example of the blurred definitions of British food can be found in the chicken tikka masala. Dubbed Britain's national dish by former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook because it’s “a perfect illustration of the way Britain absorbs and adapts external influences”, the chicken tikka masala was a mild and delicious dish created in the UK by canny restaurateurs to cater directly for the less adventurous tastes of British customers. Go to an Indian restaurant in India, though, and you won’t find it anywhere on the menu. It is, in many ways, the most British dish there is – a delicious mash-up of multiple cultures when it’s good and a cloying disappointment when it’s bad – but you’re unlikely to find it served at a restaurant that prides itself on British cuisine.
What you will find is seasonally-focussed cooking that employs simple techniques and makes the most of the isle’s natural bounty of produce. That's the definition of “British food” which I’ll be working off for this particular list. Another hallmark of the genre is that most of the chefs cooking quality British cuisine (both modern and traditional) pay particularly close attention to the provenance of the ingredients they’re using. High-quality cuts of meat or fish are typical of what you expect from a good British restaurant and I’m thankful that there are a number of quality restaurants serving that brand of direct, precise cooking in London. This list of the best British restaurant in London is far from exhaustive but I’ve tried my best to provide you with an amuse-bouche of the landscape and recommend a few places where you can realise that British food is so much more than pease pudding and pies. No shade to either of those dishes though.