Looking for restaurants for large groups? Want restaurants with private rooms for a special occasion? Read on for the best party restaurants in the UK…
Best restaurants for a party in London…
Circolo Popolare and Gloria, Fitzrovia and Shoreditch
Part of the Big Mamma group of Italian trattorias, Circolo Popolare and Gloria are perfect for tribes who love their wine, a boisterous atmosphere and OTT food. Circolo Popolare’s largest table seats a dozen diners, while Gloria has the semi-private, candlelit Wine Room (which seats up to 20), stacked high with bottles of Italian wines, including classic vintage barolos from private collections, and The Basement, a hidden dining room with access to the open kitchen.
Gloria is deliciously kitsch, with a mirrored ceiling and luxurious Missoni carpet, there are semi-private booths or the whole space can be taken over by 70 diners. Order the likes of pizza with truffle, speck, fior di latte mozzarella and mushrooms, bulbous burratas and 5.9-inch-high lemon meringue pies.
Tucked away in the basement of an old brothel in the heart of Soho, steak and chophouse Blacklock serves a £20-per-person “all in” feasting option for two or more people. (As a previous choice for the olive team Christmas party – we can confirm this is very good.) This includes pre-chop bites such as pig’s head and kimchi, followed by beef rump or pork rib skinny chops, piled on top of coal-cooked flatbreads (which suck up all the meaty juices), plus a choice of sides from a list that includes 10-hour ash-roasted sweet potato and beef-dripping chips.
Top that with £5 cocktails such as Corpse Revivor No 24 (gin, Cocchi, blackcurrant, lemon and absinthe), or simply order a jug of negroni or old fashioned for the table for £45.
Casa do Frango, London Bridge and Shoreditch
Both of these Portuguese chicken joints have buzzy bars to start your evening in, where cocktails have pleasing Portuguese twists – such as a dash of tawny port in a punchy old fashioned, or tropical Licor Beirão to lace the caipirinha-like Caipirão.
In the restaurants, long wooden tables provide great hosts for parties, and there’s a sharing vibe. Try a selection of petiscos (small plates) served in terracotta dishes – shell-on prawns slathered in a garlicky white wine piri piri sauce and deep-fried salgadinhos (empanadas stuffed with caramelised onion, kale and mushrooms). The main event is succulent chicken with crispy, sticky piri-piri skin and extra-hot piri-piri sauce on the side. Accompany with refreshing chopped salads of tomatoes, cucumber, onions and green peppers or African rice studded with tiny peas, plantain pieces and chorizo, with crisp chicken skin on top to add crunch. Leave room for a delicate, cinnamon-laced custard tart, fresh and warm from the oven.
Best restaurants for a party across the UK…
Bundobust, Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool
The beer-hall-style layouts of Bundobust make it perfect for larger parties, allowing everybody to sit together on the communal benches. The serving style is also ideal, with small dishes of Indian street food designed for sharing. Go for the Bundo Combo, which includes every dish on the menu – including bhel puri, bundo chaat and massala dosa – for £82.50 and feeds six to eight.
Everything is vegetarian, with more than half of the menu vegan, and there are plenty of gluten-free options, too. With 16 beers on tap and an extensive range of beers in the fridge, cocktails and mocktails, there’s something for everybody.
With a roof terrace overlooking the city centre, Bambalan has become a go-to venue for Bristolians looking to host a large party. There is space for up to 250 guests indoors but the capacity extends to around 400 when using the three outdoor terrace spaces, which also include a DJ booth and ping pong tables. Food-wise, expect punchy Middle Eastern-inspired flavours, including imam bayildi (charcoal-roasted aubergine with spiced tomato sauce, feta, tahini, rice pilaf and fattoush).
Honeycomb & Co, Edinburgh
Since opening in May 2017, Honeycomb & Co has built a reputation as relaxed neighbourhood spot with cracking food. The restaurant is available for private hire every day from 7pm, whether it’s for cocktail parties or seated dinners. The restaurant has a flexible layout which allows larger groups of up to 42 people to be seated, or 60 standing.
A typical three-course dinner menu begins with Edinburgh Gin-cured salmon, pickled cucumber, whipped horseradish and preserved lemon cream, followed by heather-honey-and-ginger-spiced slow-roasted pork belly with pickled cauliflower, pak choi, roasted squash and miso gravy. To finish, there’s fig and pear ‘mess’ – roasted figs, poached pears and honey cream with brown sugar meringue and pistachio brittle.
Hare & Hounds, Aberthin, Vale of Glamorgan
Run by ex-St John chef Tom Watts-Jones and his wife, Sarah, this picturesque Welsh village pub has an 18-seat private dining room and often hosts large parties and wedding receptions. Tom and his chefs can write a three-course à la carte menu in advance or tables can request sharing dishes, such as braised lamb shoulder or steak and ale pie to have along the centre of the large table.
For very large parties, the team can put a marquee in the garden and serve buffets of cold meats, fish and salads, host a BBQ or a roast suckling pig.
Freemasons, Wiswell, Lancashire
Award-winning Ribble Valley pub Freemasons has recently launched its “Mr Smith’s” chef’s table for private parties. With seating for six to 12 people, the space can be tailored to suit the party – whether you want to watch sport on the big screen, put on your own music playlist or just sit comfortably with some great food. You can choose from a variety of menus, such as Sunday lunch or a bespoke tasting menu with wine flight: you can even book it for a breakfast.
The rest of the pub also has a number of other private dining areas. Don’t expect a compromise on the food though – with this flexibility this is one of the best gastropubs in the country, with an impressive menu with the likes of slow-cooked shoulder and kofta of Herdwick lamb with aubergine and miso purée, and rice pudding with poached English bilberries.
Bar Esca, Nottingham
For larger events of up to 100, Nottingham’s Bar Esca has Cellar 9, a private-hire space with its own bar. Designed around Barcelona’s backstreet bars, the atmospheric, low-lit cellar features Picasso-style graffiti on the back wall and often has live music. Food is the ultimate drinking fodder – think chorizo hot dogs, halloumi fritters, Catalan-style flatbreads, croquettes and chicken fillet skewers with a roasted sesame dip.
Work your way through the bar, or stick to the seven types of made-to-order sangria. There’s also a full vegan or vegetarian party menu on offer, too.
The Hut, Colwell Bay, Isle of Wight
A beachside restaurant with stunning views across the bay and the Solent, The Hut offers private dining on the 26-cover Top Deck. Whether guests arrive by road or boat, they are protected from the elements by heaters and a retractable roof. A typical meal might include fish soup, smoked haddock fish cake with spinach and beurre blanc, or grilled chicken and fries.
Lancashire tapas bar Baratxuri has built a reputation as a party venue thanks to its separate 20-cover dining room and bar area, which can hold groups of up to 30. The bar area is especially popular for pintxos parties and the dining room for private dinners, which can include a Basque banquet with whole suckling pig, turbot or sirloins of Galician Txuleton steak carved at the table for the group to share.
With its stunning rooftop views across Leeds and excellent food, Crafthouse is one of the city’s undisputed hot spots and tailor-made for large parties with its open-plan restaurant, interconnected bar and terrace. It also has a 20-seat private dining room with glazed walls on two sides enabling diners to enjoy those panoramic views, and the terrace can be used for private BBQs with bespoke menus created by the chefs.
Choose from the modern British menu, with the likes of braised pork cheeks with celeriac and pickled apple, and pigeon with puy lentils and bourginon sauce up for grabs in recent months.
The Birmingham branch of this fast-growing Indian street-food chain has a 14-seat private dining room in the middle of the restaurant. If there’s a big gang of you, ask for the sharing menu (at £19.50 a head), which provides a spread of dishes from across the menu including the signature yogurt chat bombs, fenugreek fries and Himalayan cheese toast, followed by a tiffin roulette which gives a taste of three different curries served with rice.
Pata Negra, Bristol
Bristol locals know to head to the old banking district if they’re after a good time – specifically the buzzy Pata Negra, which can host groups of most sizes. Spread across four floors, the restaurant has two seriously good-looking dedicated event spaces: Noche Negra and Noche Privada. Each has a capacity for up to 120, a private bar, sound system, dance floor and plenty of seating, and can be combined for larger parties of up to 240 people.
And for those even bigger groups, the entire venue can be hired exclusively for up to 300 people. The menu is inspired by the tapas bars of Spain, with a selection of seasonal handmade pintxos, tapas buffets and feasts for large groups.
Wild Artichokes, Kingsbridge, Devon
A small industrial space might not scream party venue but Wild Artichokes, from chef and food writer Jane Baxter (who trained under Joyce Molyneux, has worked at River Café, and set up the Riverford Field Kitchen) and event organiser Samantha Miller, knows how to have a good time. Its unusual location offers up a unique dining experience – four big tables with benches, food to share and a view of the open-plan kitchen. The venue can seat 32 comfortably or up to 40 cosily.
Jane and her team create a set sharing menu each night, with a selection of fish, veggie and meat antipasti to start, then usually one or two cuts of meat, lots of seasonal vegetable dishes and traditional puddings to share.
Sam says: “This way, there’s no need to worry about sending menus around for guests to make choices – you just turn up on the night and eat.” The venue isn’t licensed for alcohol but guests can bring wine, with a corkage fee of £5 per bottle.
The Fox & Hounds, Hunsdon, Hertfordshire
James and Bianca Rix’s village pub has a huge dining room, garden and terrace, all of which can be used for parties. The light, high-ceilinged dining room can seat up to 45 for a sit-down meal over three long tables, and the kitchen can also cater for canapé parties and buffets. The whole pub can also be hired out for larger parties such as weddings and special birthdays, catering for up to 100 guests.
Head chef James works closely with customers to develop a bespoke menu according to individual preferences, occasions and the season. This might mean set menus, à la carte options and sharing dishes for tables, along with specials such as seafood platters and large joints of meat cooked in the Josper charcoal oven.
Scallop Shell, Bath
This upmarket, family-friendly fish restaurant in central Bath can accommodate up to 40 people in its upstairs restaurant space and serves a special menu for large groups.
Start with Elberry Bay mussels, shallots, garlic and parsley before moving on to cod loin, chips, mushy peas and tartare sauce, or English smoked salmon fishcakes. Make sure you leave room for the classic sherry trifle (or old-fashioned steamed plum pudding with brandy custard, if it’s near Christmas).
This gastropub has converted the old skittles alley into a 30-seat private dining room available for party hire. Heathcock also offers a corporate package on weekday lunches where work groups/ meetings can have the private dining room for a half day/full day, along with a two- or three-course lunch featuring its robust, modern British pub grub – steak and ale pie for two to share, braised duck leg pappardelle, or hanger steak with pommes anna. Far more interesting than a pile of sad-looking sandwiches in the office boardroom.
The Whippet & Pickle, Holmfirth
A busy independent restaurant in the heart of West Yorkshire, The Whippet & Pickle is a popular party venue thanks to its private dining room and 20-seat cinema. Large groups with something to celebrate tend to have a restaurant meal followed by their choice of film. The restaurant even provides popcorn and lets you take your wine in.
Go for Korean duck tacos with kimchi slaw and sesame mayo for starters, followed by chipotle and maple-glazed pork belly, with smoked corn and pepper salsa, and mac ’n’ cheese.
Established in 1993, Exeter veteran Harry’s has hosted many parties over the years and large groups can either host a table in the main restaurant or take over the private dining/function room. Depending on the party size, Harry’s offers an à la carte choice or a special parties and events menu that will appeal to crowds – from steaks, burgers and chillies to Devon crab linguine, and salmon and watercress fishcakes. You can even work with the team on a bespoke menu, including sharing plates and wine flights.
Other restaurants for a party across the UK…
Belgrave Music Hall, Leeds
As its name suggests, Belgrave is primarily a loud, lively late-night bar and gig space, but food has always been at the heart of this hip, multi-storey operation. Its monthly street-food festival has launched celebrated Yorkshire names such as Bundobust and Harrogate’s Stuzzi, and Belgrave’s main bar is the permanent home of two of Leeds’ hottest street-food slingers: Patty Smith’s burgers and Dough Boys pizza.
Just outside the city centre, hidden among the artists’ workshops, galleries and creative spaces that are slowly transforming industrial Ouseburn, Ernest is a friendly, boho café-bar where affordable, locally-sourced food gives way, after 9pm, to boozy nights of comedy, anarchic ‘disco ping pong’ and dance-music. Most of that noisier action is kept in a back room, leaving diners and drinkers free to kick back in the quirkily decorated café, with its mirror balls and impressive collection of Star Wars figures. While it uses vegetables from Byker Community Farm and meats from traditional Northumbrian butchers, chef Richard Phillipson’s menu is global in its outlook.
Hoi Polloi, London
Restaurateurs Pablo Flack and David Waddington know how to put on a show. In its original incarnation, their first East London restaurant, Bistrotheque, was also an alternative cabaret spot famous for its tranny lip-synching contest. Located in the über-trendy Ace Hotel, Hoi Polloi is a more sedate affair but nonetheless of a piece with this buzzing, multi-faceted space. After dinner, (which runs until 1am) diners are less likely to order a taxi than disappear downstairs into the hotel’s dark and edgy basement club, Miranda, for live music and trendy DJs. Hoi Polloi, by contrast, is sleekly designed in that modern Scandi-cum-LA way, where ergonomic minimalism meets natural finishes of wood, stone and leather to create something warm and sexy.
Merchant’s Tavern, London
Housed in a Shoreditch warehouse space – one that’s been given a very handsome Mad Men-style makeover – Merchant’s Tavern comprises a fantastic, cosy bar serving excellent cocktails with DJs playing until midnight and, beyond the glass partition, a quieter restaurant serving very impressive, seasonally driven modern European food.
Dishes such as roast quail with remoulade, hazelnut pesto and pan-fried foie gras, or deep-fried oysters with pickled ginger and chilli, crisp shallots and an oyster cream are firm MT favourites.
The roaring 20s may be long gone, but in this corner of Mayfair, Quaglino’s offers a contemporary take on Gatsby-style, late-night glamour. With its mezzanine bar and sweeping staircases, this is a huge art deco showstopper with a stage hung with red velvet drapes, where musicians and DJs play every night. At weekends, tables are cleared to create a dance floor and regular acts such as the all-female High On Heels and MKM Collective keep the party going until 3am.
Words by Mark Taylor and Tony Naylor
Photographs by Jerome Galland, Lateef Okunnu, Joann Pai, Bacon on the Beech, Paolo Ferla