There's such diversity in food, culture and produce in London. Everything from Japanese to French to modern European is available across the capital. There's a huge variety, and whether you're after a quirky restaurant off the beaten track or a fine dining experience, there's something for everyone.
MasterChef: The Professionals’ judge Monica Galetti doesn’t compromise on quality when it comes to food. Here she gives us the lowdown on her favourite spots around London.
Paul is a family business that started with a small shop in the north of France over 100 years ago and still uses traditional methods. It takes up to seven hours to make most of the breads and operate the bakery overnight so the bread is hot and fresh in the morning. There are 22 shops all over London, from Bow Lane and Covent Garden to Richmond and Wimbledon. I love its selection of pastries for a French-style breakfast with my family - the pain au chocolat, £1.40, is to die for. (paul-uk.com)
Bryn Williams and I worked together at Le Gavroche a few years ago, and he's now chef patron of Odette's in Primrose Hill. Bryn serves innovative modern British cuisine using the finest foods, many from his native Wales, such as roasted loin of Welsh lamb, braised shoulder, pea purée and ragout of peas, £21.95. (odettesprimrosehill.com).
The Ledbury in Notting Hill is really friendly and serves a fabulous three-course lunch, £27.50, with dishes such as flame-grilled mackerel with cucumber, celtic mustard and shiso. It's really great value, particularly for a two Michelin-starred restaurant. (theledbury.com)
Our local Thai restaurant Regional Thai, Cheam, Surrey, is second to none in my book, and its open kitchen allows diners to watch the wonderfully fresh food being prepared. My indulgence is the green curry prawns, £8.95. Be sure to book, as this is a very busy little restaurant. (regionalthai.co.uk)
Right in the City of London, in a beautiful Grade II-listed building, is 1 Lombard Street. There's a restaurant, brasserie and bar and each has a great atmosphere. I love sitting at the bar for cocktails and tapas or eating classic dishes in the brasserie, such as confit of duck and foie gras terrine, £9.50. (1lombardstreet.com)
Adam Byatt's chic Trinity Restaurant in Clapham is perfect for an evening out with friends. Expect good, well-priced wines and, if there are enough of you, try the amazing roast suckling pig served whole at the table, £33 per person, minimum 10 people. (trinityrestaurant.co.uk)
Zuma in Knightsbridge is a beautiful Japanese restaurant serving a sophisticated version of the informal izakaya cuisine. Come here for the finest sashimi, sushi, Wagyu beef tartare and slivers of sea urchin. But be prepared to pay for it - dishes range from £4-£38 and the set menu, which includes my favourite black cod, costs £96. (zumarestaurant.com)
Lounge Bar at the Hilton London Metropole Hotel is perfect for pre-dinner drinks. We are not big drinkers, but always enjoy great cocktails when meeting friends here. Try the Pimm's cocktail or a delicious bellini, £9.85. (hilton.co.uk/londonmet)
Mark Hix's third London restaurant is Hix Restaurant & Champagne Bar, in Selfridges. It's a great place to stop off during a shopping trip with girlfriends for a glass of Champagne or a cocktail. The bar also offers small dishes such as quail's egg shooters, £4, and grilled chorizo with romesco sauce, £5.75. (hixatselfridges.co.uk)
Loved by chefs, restaurateurs and anyone passionate about eating and drinking, Borough Market offers a wide range of exceptional British and international produce. It is one of my favourite places to shop - must-buys include cakes and great French cheeses. (boroughmarket.org.uk)
If you fancy something on a smaller scale try Exmouth Market. It has a small produce market, is great for home-made jams and chutney and there's a real sense of community among the stallholders. (exmouth-market.com)
I also go to the Japan Centre, Piccadilly, for Japanese ingredients and freshly made sushi - it's incredible. (japancentre.com)
Head to Neal's Yard Dairy, Borough Market, for a wide selection of British cheeses, helpful staff and generous samples. You can also book into their weekly tutored tastings, with classes including Choosing Your Cheeseboard or Beer and Cheese, both £50. (nealsyarddairy.co.uk)
MasterChef Live takes place in November and is a great day out. It offers visitors the chance to sample lots of different foods and restaurants, and you can even have a go at some MasterChef classes and challenges, with entry from £20.50. I'll be doing two or three masterclasses daily. (londonbbcgoodfoodshow.com)
Park Plaza Westminster Bridge is a reasonably priced contemporary hotel on London's vibrant South Bank, opposite Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. As well as offering spectacular views, it has plenty of great dining options, with Brasserie Joël, Ichi Sushi and the Sashimi Bar all serving quality food. Doubles from £169. (parkplaza.com/hotels/gbwestmi)
For a special weekend away, try staying at Malmaison in Clerkenwell. Surrounded by some of London's best restaurants, including Club Gascon and St John, this hotel experience is pure indulgence. The slick, modern decor is stunning and the hotel's continental breakfast, with freshly squeezed orange juice and great croissants, is fantastic. The stylish Champagne Bar is a great place to meet some friends and kick off the weekend. Doubles from £175. (malmaison-london.com)
About the author
Monica Galetti was born in Samoa and raised in New Zealand. She has worked for Michel Roux Jr's restaurant Le Gavroche in Mayfair for more than 10 years, having started there as commis chef in 1999. Monica is now a senior sous-chef at the restaurant and a judge on BBC Two's MasterChef: The Professionals.
The article 'Insider’s guide to London' was published in partnership with Olive magazine.