Typically an innocuous date, this year the 17th of May marks an important moment in the calendar. As spring turns to summer, and lockdown gives way to freedom, finally it’s possible to consider meeting up with larger groups of friends inside again.
Post-Covid, six people sounds like a crowd. Most of us have almost forgotten what it feels like to be around that many friends all at once. With indoor dining back on the cards, it’s unsurprising we need a refresher of Bow’s best restaurants catering for groups of six or more.
From Venetian ristoranti to French bistros to Middle Eastern soul food, our area isn’t short of choice. So get your gang together and go exploring, eating your way through the best Bow has to offer. International travel may still be off the cards, but on our patch, your tastebuds are all you need to explore the world.
BEST FOR: LAVISH AFTER WORK DINNER
Located in a converted clothing factory in Bethnal Green, Bistrotheque has a reputation for entertaining the East End’s fashion and design sets. Hidden away down a quiet side street, with an unmarked entrance, this is a venue you have to hunt down.
Once inside, you’ll find yourself in a large open-plan space with whitewashed brick walls and open windows. Overhead, filament bulbs hang from industrial pipes and beams. With pristine white tablecloths and good, solid cutlery, Bistrotheque is one for a smart dinner bash.
With lots of tables to choose from, this restaurant has plenty of space for bigger groups. Here classic French bistro favourites fuse with seasonal English produce. Featuring all the classics, Bistrotheque has a small, simple menu: burgers, rib-eye steaks, roast chicken, cod.
There are also some good cocktails on offer, from the Peach Whiskey Smash to a spicy Margarita, and there’s plenty of choice on the wine front, too.
Packed full of Shoreditch hipsters, this is a trendy, top-end place, ideal for a dinner out with a big group of friends or colleagues.
The Greedy Cow
BEST FOR: SUNDAY LUNCH
A firm favourite with locals, The Greedy Cow is Mile End’s resident Burger & Steak restaurant. Despite the reasonably priced fare on offer, this isn’t your standard burger joint. The Greedy Cow has a thoroughly modern menu, catering to vegetarians, vegans and children too.
Here you’ll find food inspired by European, Asian and Middle Eastern culinary traditions. We love the Japanse wagyu beef burgers and the French trimmed lamb chops, and, for the meat-free crowd, the Beyond Meat burgers are the way to go.
Those visiting over the weekend are in for a treat. A dedicated Brunch menu boasts everything from buttermilk pancakes to Eggs Benedict, and those celebrating will be pleased to find cocktails available from 11am. Sunday afternoons are reserved for a good ol’ traditional roast.
With lots of seating available, this is a choice spot for large groups and families. Don’t be put off if it looks like there are only tables big enough for two to four people; you’ll find plenty of space just up the stairs.
Wood-panelled, with copper alloy tabletops and pendant lighting, this restaurant gives us real New York bistro vibes.
BEST FOR: RE-UNITING WITH FRIENDS
A seriously good Venetian restaurant, Ombra’s canalside views are reminiscent of Italy’s floating city. With the iconic Bethnal Green gasworks in sight, however, you’ll stay grounded in one of East London’s coolest spots.
Spacious, bright and airy, Ombra is another great pick for larger groups. From the 17th of May, you’ll even be able to arrange a full Ombra takeover for weddings, parties and receptions of up to 30 people. (Wow – 30 people… at Roman Road, we’ve forgotten what that looks like!)
With Cicchetti and antipasti on the menu to start, there’s also a good range of primi and secondi dishes to choose from. For pescetarians and fish lovers, the Grilled Monkfish with Mussels is a real treat. Otherwise, we recommend trying the Wild Garlic tagliatelle or the fresh Ravioli, stuffed with ricotta, anchovies and courgette flowers.
Reflecting the restaurant’s relaxed European feel, Ombra has an impressive wine list, sourced from across the continent. The menu’s fairly priced, the service is friendly, the patrons trendy and easygoing. For larger groups, this lively spot promises a fun evening for all.
BEST FOR: AFFORDABLE OUTINGS
Based in Fish Island, Sultan Sofrasi’s a family-friendly Turkish restaurant with space enough for groups of 6 or more. Specialising in top-notch grilled meats & kebabs, it’s an unpretentious choice favoured by in-the-know locals.
On their menu, you’ll find a good range of starters, from mixed meze to whitebait. For mains, there’s all the traditional Turkish fare on offer – koftes, doners & shish – alongside a good range of veggie options, like Moussaka and veggie kebabs.
Bright, clean and spacious, Sultan Sofrasi is a reliable choice for a dinner out. The staff are very friendly, the service efficient, the food tasty. With generous portions and a reasonably priced menu, it’s one we often find ourselves returning to.
When it comes to dessert, we recommend their Baklava, sumptuously sweet and crisp. If you’re looking for a night out that’s not going to break the bank, this should be top on your list.
Pizza Brixton, Bow
BEST FOR: DIETARY NEEDS
Sometimes, heading out for dinner with friends can be difficult. Accommodating for a variety of dietary requirements can occasionally make it easier to ditch the dinner plans altogether.
If this sounds like a familiar struggle, Bow’s Pizza Brixton is the place for you. With gluten-free, vegan and halal options on the menu, there’s something for everyone.
Based on Roman Road, Pizza Brixton is a homely, intimate space, good for catching up with old friends. Upon entry, you’ll notice the tiled dome of a stone pizza oven behind the bar.
This is pizza done right, with most ingredients sourced from Italy’s Puglia, a region famed for its good red wine and olive oil. The dough is characteristically softer and thicker than other pizzas in Italy, with exaggeratedly charcoal-burned crusts. You’ll even notice they mark out their ‘traditional dishes from Southern Italy’ with a star on the menu.
BEST FOR: LIVE MUSIC
More than just a restaurant, Grow is an artist-friendly, eco-conscious, community-oriented space that just so happens to serve good food. Since opening in 2014, it’s developed a cult following: today people will travel from all over London to visit.
Embedded in the community it serves, Grow is committed to sustainability, sourcing its ingredients from local independent suppliers. With a predominantly plant-based menu, you’ll notice Middle Eastern & southern Mediterranean flavours abound. Some highlights include their hummus, baba ganoush, shakshuka, wraps and mezze.
Constructed of old shipping containers and reclaimed planks of wood, Grow has a homespun, lean-to kind of vibe. It’s a structure that embodies their philosophy, suggesting we should live lightly on the earth. With lots of space both outside and in, it’s the perfect place for supper with a big group of pals.
Loved by artists, students and the local community alike, Grow is always buzzing with a lively, varied crowd. From the 17th of May, live jazz returns to the canalside terrace, with musicians performing from a floating pontoon on the River Lea.
If you enjoyed learning about Bow’s best restaurants for large groups, why not read about the East End’s best pubs with outdoor seating?
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