Located inside Sotheby’s auction house, this beautiful café is a tranquil place to repair to alone or in company. Mirrored walls, white table linens and black-and-white photography give it an air of glamour but the staff are warm and welcoming. For a special lunch, order a lobster club sandwich (£21.50) and treat yourself to a glass of champagne. The wine list is overseen by Serena Sutcliffe MW, head of Sotheby’s wine department.
34-35 New Bond Street W1A 2AA, 020 7293 5077; sothebys.com/cafe
Rada Foyer Bar
Student actors, academics and nearby workers tend to keep quiet about this café at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, since it is such a pleasant place to meet up for lunch. A small queue forms quite quickly just before midday, when the hot dishes are brought out from the kitchen. This is also a good place to drop by for an early evening glass of wine. On some nights you might even hear a recital but the atmosphere remains civilised and calm, whatever the event.
Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, 62-64 Gower Street, WC1E 6ED; rada.ac.uk/about/venue-hire/bar-cafe
Great St Bartholomew’s Cloister Café
There aren’t many places where you can enjoy a slice of chocolate cake in 15th-century cloisters but this is probably among the nicest in England. Fresh mint tea is served in white china pots and, as the pale green light filters through the leaded glass windows, it is surely one of the most peaceful corners for afternoon tea in London. Monastic beers are also on offer.
West Smithfield, EC1A 9DS, 020 7600 0440; greatstbarts.com/Pages/Cloister_Cafe/cafe.html; reopens July 27
A café-gallery-deli, with a small garden space open in summer, Suzzle is a friendly place for lunch. The varied and delicious food (freshly made tarts, salads and cakes) is all gluten-free. Try their savoury pasties, appreciated by no less than the artists Gilbert & George, who often order a couple for their lunch.
47 Brick Lane, E1 6PU, 07799 292 709; facebook.com/SuzzleUK
As soon as you enter this beautiful Georgian townhouse, you feel at ease. The ground-floor dining room has soft grey carpets and ornate carved fireplaces, and a calmness pervades. Alexis Gauthier’s modern French cuisine is a draw for Soho diners who adore dishes such as black winter truffle with acquarello riso, and wild Cornish sea bass with black olive paté. Book well in advance.
21 Romilly Street, W1D 5AF, 020 7494 3111; gauthiersoho.co.uk
‘Quiet London: Food & Drink’ by Siobhan Wall is published by Frances Lincoln on August 7 (£7.99)