Glass seeks out meals to suit your mood in some of London’s finest restaurants

’Meals to suit moods – Glass therapeutically asks, before you choose a restaurant, how you are feeling?

FEELING dissatisfied after leaving a restaurant is usually attributed to the food or the service but the state of your feelings before you even step foot inside an eatery could be the decisive factor. If an intimate, romantic meal for two is on the agenda, you hardly want to be met by a burly doorman in a suit standing on duty outside the restaurant. When sociability is the priority, a darkly lit interior with candle light and classical music in the background is hardly conducive to a roaring night out. As a connoisseur of fine food, it won’t do to be served an after-dinner brandy in the sort of heavy-duty glass that is best reserved for soaking dentures overnight.

The sleek and snazzy bar at FuchinaThe sleek and snazzy bar at FuchinaThe sleek and snazzy bar at Fucina

Bearing in mind these profound insights into human nature, where do you go to pep yourself up for nightclub entertainment later in the evening? You’re feeling bubbly and where you eat needs to be simpatico. Fucina, suitably situated in Marylebone, fits the bill. An L-shaped bar and lounge area greets you on entrance and it fills with party folk as the night progresses.

Fucina feels like a nightclub: brick ceiling, black metallic grills on the walls, low-level house music and an Italian menu that is at its best when shared by at least two, preferably more compatriots. Truffle-flavoured pizza, wood-fried sweet potato and as many starters as possible makes for a small feast before tangoing off into the night. What Fucina offers is done well; come here in the right mood and you’ll love it.

An ouzo sour and special cocktails at Estiatorio MilosAn ouzo sour and special cocktails at Estiatorio Milos

If you’re in a celebratory mood, feeling extravagant and a little glitzy, head for the Pall Mall end of Regent Street – the address is No 1, no less – and an upscale Greek fish restaurant, Estiatorio Milos. This is high-end cosmopolitan London – expect to hear many more languages than the usual European ones – and the scene that meets you upon entering would not be out of place in  Scorsese’s Casino – minus the gangsters but replete with affluent showiness. White envelops the show, from the voile curtains to the pillars and  marble and the glistening layers of packed  ice that keep the displayed fish as fresh as when it was flown in from the Mediterranean. The menu’s Milos Special is an architectural delight: an edible stack waiting to be deconstructed by dipping into tzatziki  with courgette and aubergine crisps, perfect for nibbling through while waiting for the fish you chose –which has been weighed and duly priced – to be meticulously prepared.

The Milos Special is waiting to be deconstructed at Estiatorio MilosThe Milos Special is waiting to be deconstructed at Estiatorio Milos

Estiatorio Milos is not inexpensive but if you’re keen to flash those newly-painted fingernails holding a glass of  ouzo sour at the bar, or that impulse-purchased item that couldn’t possibly be worn to work, then this is the place to preen and take pride in oneself.

Somewhere less jet-setting but far from devoid of glamour, Bokan offers a choice evening out that begins with a fast elevation to the 38th floor of a Novotel hotel in Canary Wharf. This is Bokan’s bar terrace and it’s hard to beat the views of corporate London and the capital’s flat horizon in the far distance. To relax in a mellow mood, come here on a Sunday evening but expect a more jovial atmosphere after 5pm on a weekday.

Looking at London from the 38th floor at BokanLooking at London from the 38th floor at Bokan

One floor below is the restaurant and the best tables here command a panoramic vista, looking across to the Shard and Tower Bridge; a scene with a majesty to which only a Canaletto could do justice. Bokan’s décor – exposed ducts, filament lighting and wooden furniture – is cool in a familiar kind of way and suits a keenly priced menu that delivers European classical fare that is way above average for a hotel restaurant.

One floor below Bokan's bar, the restaurant with equally panoramic viewsOne floor below Bokan’s bar, the restaurant with equally panoramic views

Gaudiness is kept to a minimum with six main dishes that cover the essentials (vegetarian, steak, chicken, lamb and seafood) and some artful starters that can’t be faulted. Bokan avoids the excesses that a restaurant on a 37th level in Canary Wharf might be tempted to indulge in and the result is a pleasingly affordable and self-assured abode for anyone wishing to avoid razzmatazz but wanting somewhere special.

Pre-dinner drinks at Galvin La Chapelle's bar or next door at Galvin HopPre-dinner drinks at Galvin La Chapelle’s bar or next door at Galvin Hop

Your mood is so-so, neither up nor down, so what you need is somewhere dependable, nothing fancy-pants just proven good food, an absence of attitude and an atmosphere where you can chat, eat and drink in comfort. Slip away to Spitalfields and Galvin La Chapelle, another offspring of the Michelin-hymned Jeff and Chris Galvin,  should hit the spot. If, as I did, you mistakenly enter Galvin Hop, which stands back to back with the restaurant, you may be won over by the smiling staff and stay to enjoy the revelry of a gastro pub that attracts City blokes – or just linger for a pre-dinner drink; the bar in La Chapelle is tiny and seats fewer than six so bear this in mind.

A far cry from the school building now home to Galvin La ChapelleA far cry from the school building now home to Galvin La Chapelle’

The restaurant occupies what was once a school, though the place more resembles a 19th century chapel with exposed beams and a neck-cricking high ceiling. The acoustics do not suffer in such a cavernous space and etiquette is observed so although tables are close together fellow diners’ conversations do not impose and the air of conviviality can be enjoyed in private.

So too can the food which is precise, preciously good and playful: lasagne of Dorset crab could be suspect as a heavy starter but micro-sized slices of pasta between layers of crab with a delicate herb butter sauce keeps the calories count low and taste buds highly gratified. Main courses are equally edifying: un-pompous French cuisine in a London context. Galvin La Chapelle is deservedly popular and good therapy for hungry stomachs as well as minds that seek contentment without fussiness.

 by Sean Sheehan