Something special happens to people when you say the letters B, Y, O, and B in front of them. Uttering those magical letters, in that magical order, can light up the eyes and brain of a human in the same way that the words “walk” or “park” can drive a poodle into an elated frenzy. BYOBs are an integral part of British life – they’re a rite of passage for many friendship groups – and they’re an under-appreciated aspect of the nation’s restaurant patchwork.
There’s a satisfying ritual involved in going out to a BYOB that you don’t get when you go to any other kind of restaurant. There’s the gentle clinking of cans and bottles in an invariably blue plastic bag – a symphony of glass and aluminium that broadcasts to everyone around you that you’re about to have a good time. There’s pulling out wads of cash from a card machine and hoping no one else in your party accidentally “forgot” to bring some with them. There’s genuinely forgetting to bring a bottle opener and being forced to prize out the cork of a pinot gris with a knife and fork and, somehow, making it work.
Crack open a few big Cobras snagged from the corner shop at the last-minute or bring a bottle of that Austrian Riesling you’ve been saving for a special occasion because it “pairs gorgeously” with Thai food, there’s no wrong way to do a BYOB. But what are London’s best BYOB restaurants? Where can you get your laughing gear around good food while paying a respectable fee to drink your own alcohol? Here’s where.