You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family. And you probably can’t choose your colleagues either. Unless you’re the boss. In which case, be a good boss and take your employees out to dinner every once in a while.
Even if you’re not in charge, you may find yourself in charge of planning a team dinner outing from time to time. And whether you see a team meal as a fun activity, or simply a chance to figure out which person you’ll need to destroy to get ahead, you should pick a solid restaurant for the occasion. These restaurants are fun, suitable for groups, mostly work-appropriate, and serve food you’ll enjoy.
Here’s where to book your next team dinner.
If we learnt anything from Sweeney Todd it’s that even the biggest dickheads can get on board with pie. And that guy’s only marginally worse than your boss. Take the team for dinner at all-day British spot Holborn Dining Room inside The Rosewood Hotel. This place serves everything from steak tartare to half pints of Atlantic prawns, but all you really want to get involved in is the pies. This place can be expensive so it’s probably best to keep it reserved for bonus season or when the company card is due a workout.
Work is all about friendship born of mutual suffering. Maybe it’s having to buddy up to convince a Miranda Priestly wannabe that they really can’t return those socks without a receipt. Or maybe it’s figuring out how to get the printer to connect to your laptop. Or maybe it’s having the sheer anxiety of booking this team meal. Whatever the reason, if you weren’t able to laugh through your daily work grievances together, you probably would have quit by now - and there are few restaurants better for having a laugh in than Ciao Bella. This old school Italian in Bloomsbury doesn’t have the best Italian food in London but the portions are big, the prices are super affordable, and their outside terrace is one of the single greatest group dining spots in London.
The liquid lunch is a surefire way to make your team dinner the last supper for one or two members. If you’re not looking for reasons to cull anyone right this minute though, it can be done well. The Anchor and Hope is one of the best pubs with grub in London. It’s no reservations, so somebody will have to bite the bullet and get there early to put you down for a table for eight. A pint and a bar snack whilst you wait for everyone else is a big ask, but someone’s gotta do it.
If you don’t like the sound of getting drunk on on-tap nori old fashioneds, sharing kimchi rice with your work wife, witnessing that person from HR sharing all the company secrets over the sound of a huge open kitchen, licking panko chicken from your fingers, ordering a second round of kimchi rice, your boss demanding sake as soon as it’s dark, and seeing that tipsy intern declaring ‘we’re in a beautiful Japanese spaceship’ between bites of charred coconut soft serve - then you definitely shouldn’t book a table at Soho’s Inko Nito.
You’ve been to Dishoom. Most of your team have been to Dishoom. And yes, even your dad who just discovered Snow Patrol has been to Dishoom. But there’s a reason why this modern Indian mini-chain of restaurants is so popular. Each of their locations across London have vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free menus, as well as all of their Indian go-to dishes like prawn koliwada, curries, and lamb chops. Their King’s Cross spot is in a huge warehouse, and although you’ll pretty much always find queues at Dishoom you can book for groups of six or more.
Turns out your team are great, you’re all doing brilliantly, and you’re going out for dinner this Thursday because, why not? Who knew work could work out so well. St John Bread and Wine is the perfect choice, so it’s a good thing you’re booked to go there and…oh and they’ve only gone and ordered the whole suckling pig. Don’t worry - there are amazing vegetarian options as well and you don’t have to get the pig if you don’t want to but, you know, it’s a team thing.
That colleague that really loves to blast a bit of The Prodigy first thing on a Monday morning is finally leaving to torture another set of politely silent colleagues. Thank god. Book an aptly named last meal at Temper City as an ode to that poor vein on your forehead and finally being free of speaker-hogging rage. This modern barbecue restaurant in Soho is all about big, leather booths, an upbeat 90s soundtrack, and creative takes on your classic smoked meat fare, like their excellent cheeseburger tacos. There’s also a huge, six metre central fire pit. Go ahead and scream “you’re a firestarter, twisted firestarter” in your ex colleagues face, we dare ya.
It’s your line manager’s birthday. She’s so great to you. All those late nights without an Uber home, it’s a good thing you love 11pm bus journeys! You know her and her ‘kooky’ character so well: water at fifteen to eighteen degrees only, bland foods that don’t ‘interfere’ with her sensitive palate. So, it’s only right that you organise a meal at Dum Biriyani. It’s a lovely, laidback Indian with brilliant hot and spicy wings and a go-to lamb biriyani. That’s for the work texts on Boxing Day, mate.
Think of Andina as the restaurant equivalent of that colleague that always answers your manic Slack queeries. Where to go when half the team are vegetarian? Where to book when that guy from the PR team is only eating fish in solidarity with his dog’s new pescatarian diet? Where can you get a mean mocktail for your pregnant co-worker? Andina, that’s the answer. Whether you’re after an excellent yellowfin tuna tartare, virgin pisco sours, a super strength passion fruit pisco sour, excellent vegetable dishes, and a varied, affordable menu covering all dietary requirements, this Peruvian spot has got you covered.
Brian from accounts is leaving. Is Brian the one with the black hair or is Brian the one who stands too close to you when you’re talking? You’re not sure. When you’re not sure you play it safe, and Pizza East is ideal for that. It’s big and airy so it’s perfect for a big group and there’s pizza, pasta, and a load of vegetarian options. It’s a no brainer and Brian will love it. Or is it Richard who loves pizza?
Your office mum is about to become a real mum for the first time. You need to make sure she gets the sendoff she deserves. After all, she’s always been much nicer about hangovers than your actual mum is. You wish she was your actual mum. Somewhere classy, carefree and comforting will fit the bill, and Flour and Grape is the place for that. The handmade pasta and simple Italian dishes will make everyone happy.
The guy who wears silver Nikes and thinks he’s really cool suggests going to a queue-only restaurant for a birthday lunch. This is why he is the only one who thinks he’s cool. Good thing you know that you can book at Bao Fitzrovia and it’s still got the same delicious buns, beef cheek and fried chicken as their Lexington Street no-reservations spot. You’ll be praised for your knowledge and excellent organisation skills by everyone, which is very cool.
So Flora is vegan, Steve isn’t a fan of ‘namby pamby poncey stuff’, and Johnny doesn’t have an opinion on anything as long as it tastes ‘decent you know’. Homeslice has your back. Order two or three 20” pizzas (they have vegan options), stick them in the middle - we recommend the spiced lamb in particular - and order some prosecco on tap alongside a few beers. Everyone is happy because Homeslice make non namby pamby, very decent pizza, some of which is even vegan. Job done.
You just found out that not-great boss who has treated your team to one dinner in the last five years (and it was at Chicken Cottage) has been re-located to Redditch. As an added bonus, Rachel (we love Rachel) has been promoted. Time for a proper celebration and a proper team dinner at Shikumen. This large-format Chinese restaurant is a celebration-worthy spot, and one of our favourites for a group. Order the roast duck to share, a whole lot of dim sum, and plenty of drinks. This is what teamwork looks like.
If your team is brimming with worldly, highly cultured, and generally overachieving individuals, consider booking your next team dinner at Moro. This restaurant was inspired by the chef’s travels around Spain and North Africa, and you can think of it as a grown up restaurant for grown up people, but without being stuffy in the slightest. It’s an excellent setting for discussing why every other department is worse than yours.
You and your colleagues have been stuck in all-day meetings for a week straight, and you’re all in need of a stiff drink and a plate of delicious cheesecake. The Rail House Cafe in Victoria is an excellent go-to for everyone to let off a bit of steam - there’s a shiny bar and loads of sofas for your work crew to sprawl with a few cocktails, and the easy brasserie food is exactly the kind of no-fuss stuff you want after a long day.
Maybe your department nailed this quarter’s numbers. Maybe Emma finally took another job and you’ll never have to see her again. Either way, it’s time to celebrate, and Hixter is a good place to do so. Give yourselves a pat on the back via a massive roast chicken served on a pot of chips and a few nice bottles of wine.
If you and your work crew are the type to spend every Thursday night down the local drinking the week away, it might be time to shake up your routine a bit. Head to The Laughing Gravy. The gastropub vibes mean you can trick even the most jobsworth members of your team into the building and get them to even try one or two twists on traditional dishes like a scallop and crayfish Scotch egg, or something from their wildly creative dessert menu. Everyone’s stomachs will well-lined, so your team might actually be productive on a Friday for once. We said might.