Rejoice! With the second stage of lockdown easing on April 12 will come the ability to book tables at restaurants with outside space.

We’ve been fantasizing about the easing of lockdown for what feels like for ever. People will, of course, celebrate their relative freedom in different ways but for many the ultimate fantasy involves white tablecloths and waiter service.

Lest it sounds too good to be true, here is the government’s plan for restaurants in its own words: ‘Step Two (no earlier than April 12) – Hospitality venues can serve people outdoors only. There will be no need for customers to order a substantial meal with alcohol, and no curfew – although customers must order, eat and drink while seated.’

The Pizza Express chain, which is looking forward to opening 118 of its sites with gardens and terraces, has even given a name to this happy new development, calling it Al Fresco April.

Space will be limited, so it’s time to get booking!

Main image: Petersham Nurseries

Sam’s Riverside

This stylish modern brasserie near Hammersmith Bridge – brought to us by the experienced restaurateur Sam Harrison – barely had a chance to get going before the first lockdown shut its doors. Until its beautiful dining room can open again, the generous terrace overlooking the Thames is the perfect spot for a perky al fresco meal.

Petersham Nurseries

Whether you opt for the exquisite and peaceful café in Richmond or La Goccia in Covent Garden (both of which will offer outdoor dining from April 12), Petersham Nurseries does prettiness like nobody else. The charming Italian owners, the Boglione family, value good food, beautiful things and positive living. As such, a Petersham experience always feeds the soul.


The terrace at Scott’s is a Mayfair institution. If you can bag a table out there, you will a) feel like a true grown up and b) have yourself a heck of a good time. Famous for its fish and oysters, there is also plenty of seasonal meat and game on the menu. Nothing in lockdown was ever as sophisticated as this.

Quo Vadis

What was once a brothel and home to Karl Marx is now the happiest and coolest of laidback British restaurants. Thankfully, for those of us who want to dine out in April, it has a good little run of al fresco tables on the street, too, from where you can merrily watch the world of Soho go by. Quo Vadis is so good to its customers, there is even a weather report on its website.

River Café

This pricey Italian haven has been ruling the river since 1987. Tables are hard enough to come by when the good times are rolling, let alone when pandemic restrictions complicate matters. But if you can secure one, you will be handsomely rewarded with an unforgettable meal of the freshest ingredients served on a buzzing terrace by endlessly charming staff. It is as though the sun always shines on the River Café. You’ll try to avoid their most famous dish, the Chocolate Nemesis – but resistance is futile.


Pronounced ‘eechay’, this funky British eatery is central to the stunning King’s Cross development, Coal Drops Yard. Not one but two terraces here are currently being swept down and swanked up for our pleasure come April 12. The menu is bursting with inventive plates to share. Everything looks so exciting that you may well be tempted to remove all hassle and responsibility and go for the ‘hicce experience’ four-course sharing menu. Top tip: the cocktails are insane.

Joy At Portobello Dock

What do you get when you mix Stevie Parle, Tom Dixon and a global pandemic? The answer is a pop-up outdoor restaurant on a terrace overlooking the Grand Union Canal serving ‘hyper seasonal, simple and delicious’ food made of produce from Kent. Parle is busy preparing for the grand reopening by planting masses of parrot tulips and finessing a new seafood menu.


Creative cooking and sustainable thinking are behind this sexy Mayfair newcomer, which only opened two days before lockdown shut it again last year. Chefs Jack Croft and Will Murray met when they worked for Heston Blumenthal and the food is said (by those who were fortunate enough to try it, including Fay Maschler) to be top notch. Best of all is the supremely elegant terrace, which should give the place its chance to shine this spring.

La Poule Au Pot

This Pimlico stalwart is too established (it opened in the 1960s) and too French ever to let a silly pandemic thwart it. So of course it plans proudly to throw open its terrace on April 12. The romance of the place, the menu and the waiting staff will seduce you into believing that you haven’t just left your home, you’ve actually fled to Paris.

By Becky Ladenburg
April 2021

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Becky Ladenburg

Features Editor

As the GWG's features editor, Becky has her discerning finger on the cultural pulse. She's also our go-to expert on the property market.