London’s Strangest Restaurants

The oddest eateries in town. For better and worse…

Hurwendiki: short, back and side orders

Hurwendiki: short, back and side orders

The one where you can get a haircut…
Hurwundeki close to Cambridge Heath station has a particularly peculiar niche. Not only can you eat very decent, authentic Korean food there, but you can get a short back and sides at the same time. Set under a railway bridge, a dishevelled-looking restaurant space connects directly to a hair salon through an archway. If you find a hair in your noodles, you’d better hope it’s your own.

The one where you can’t see a thing…
Dans Le Noir is run almost entirely by blind people, and when you enter the dining area, you too will have to make do without your sight as you are plunged into darkness. Problems start with making the glass as you pour wine and end with getting accidentally over-acquainted with the person sat next to you. We’ll even admit that on one occasion in the past, Londonist visited and fell asleep after a little too much wine. Well, it was dark…

The one where you order on touchscreens…
Inamo have two branches, one in Soho and one in St. James’s. The menu of sushi and pan-Asian small plates isn’t particularly unique in itself, but the way you order is. Projectors beam menus onto the tabletop, where you can use in-built buttons to order dishes to arrive to the table with no need to ever speak to a waiter. You can even use the table to hail a cab or check the Tube at the end of the night, and there are some games to play just in case conversation is that bad.

Bunga Bunga: eat with Berlusconi

Bunga Bunga: eat with Berlusconi

The one that’s all about Berlusconi…
Bunga Bunga in Battersea has made quite a name for itself as an Italian restaurant and party place themed almost entirely around the Italian ex-Prime Minister and his famed Bunga Bunga parties. The food is reassuringly normal, and rather good — pizzas, pastas and the likes — but be prepared to see Silvio staring down at you from just about every corner of the room.

The one with a river in it…
Pasha likes to keep guests on their toes. As if walking into a hotel in Camberwell to find a Kazakhstani restaurant where you’re asked to take off your shoes and sit on the cushioned floor isn’t unusual enough, they’ve only gone and installed a river. Complete with fish and everything. We’re guessing it must more accurately be a pond, really, but a river is exactly what it looks like. The menu of mezze and grills is also surprising in just how good it is, especially given prices as low as a fiver for some mains.

The one where you can draw on the walls…
Doodle Bar in Battersea serves cocktails, toasties and a selection of other drinks and snacks in a space where you won’t get told off for writing on the walls. Whiteboards and blackboards are accompanied by ping pong tables for extra fun, and the venue also hosts regular life drawing classes.

Circus: tabletop acrobatics

Circus: tabletop acrobatics

The one with acrobats…
Circus, as this Covent Garden restaurant is quite aptly called, really ought to be in a big top. Between courses of decent if not exceptional pan-Asian cuisine, your tabletop will be transformed into a runway for firebreathers, jugglers and somersaults, as acrobats flip and twirl overhead. Quite a spectacle.

The one where they sing with your supper…
Sarastro on Drury Lane has a tendency to be quite touristy. Perhaps that’s because not so many locals wish to be serenaded by operatic waiters as they eat their food. There’s lots of talent here (probably marginally more in the singing than in the mixed Mediterranean dishes), but be aware that we’re not talking a guitarist in the corner: as a diner you are slap bang in the middle of a dramatically played-out storyline of song. It really does have to be seen to be believed.

The one that’s just weird…
Abracadabra in Mayfair boasts the centre point of a revolving table, meaning guests get a constantly changing view of the restaurant. Potential nausea aside, that’s all well and good. Until you realise just what that view consists of. Individual booths each have their own theme, ranging from boudoir to Disney, and there’s an undeniably large number of phalluses scattered about the place, too. That and plenty of photos of the owner with Cherie Blair. The food is Russian-come-Eastern European, and in case you wanted more oddity, the whole restaurant has been blessed by an archpriest for good measure.

 Let us know of any more restaurant rarities and peculiar places to eat in the comments below…

This article is part of our Best of London Food and Drink series. Visit the page for more recommendations of where to enjoy the capital’s top food and drink, categorised by cuisine, food type and more.

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Article by Ben Norum | 286 Articles | View Profile

  • Matt

    Surely Archipelago deserves a mention? After all, they do sell Python, Crocodile and Zebra.

    • Ivana

      Closed down…

      • Nav Hir

        What??? I loved that place…

        • Nav Hir

          Not closed, just moved… thank frick as I am taking my kids there this Summer…

          • Daniel Creedon

            Hi guys,
            we would like to confirm that After 13 years in Whitfield Street, Fitzrovia, Archipelago has found a new home at 53 Cleveland Street, Fitzrovia.
            02073833346

  • Frances Wilson

    Brunswick House at LASSCo, Vauxhall, is pretty eclectic, since most of the decor in the restaurant is for sale

  • HHGeek

    The Wapping Project. Hydraulic pumping station machines to one side, art space below.

    • Carmen

      WP no longer with us, regretfully.

      • HHGeek

        Oh, dang, when did that happen? I don’t live nearby any more, but I could have sworn I’d heard within the last 6 months that they’d just got a new chef. Boo. :(

        • http://londona729.blogspot.co.uk/ londona729

          Probably the recession if they’re prices were too high?

          • HHGeek

            They’d been there a good long while, and far crappier restaurants with higher prices have carried on successfully. Including several just along further into Wapping.

  • London Street Games

    Ha, I was going to say ‘Abracadabra’ but it’s right there. You didn’t mention amongst the weirdness the ladies’ loos where you can sit on a mock Fabergé egg or Alice in Wonderland’s toadstool…. or the private function room with the flipover bondge table!

  • wiseboy303
  • Lisa

    Archipelago…. I had the Zebra but they have dessert with a bumble bee on top!

  • Matt

    LMNT on Queensbridge road is bizarre, you can eat in the crows nests.

  • http://londona729.blogspot.co.uk/ londona729

    Another reason to love London!

  • http://www.adventuresofalondonkiwi.blogspot.com/ adventuresofalondonkiwi

    The restaurant in a tube train carriage.

  • drjohn

    For a bit of retro Raj, try the India Club on the Strand. Food is OK, but it looks like you’ve been transported back in time (or to a movie set).

  • KTJ

    Stone Cave in Dalston has walls of a mountain and a fountain (with fish), live music on the weekends and delicious food!

  • http://www.itsallbee.com/ Bianca @ItsAllBee

    I have been to Circus. Really enjoyed the food and show in between courses.