The best cafe chain- Caffe Nero
Caffe Nero is my go-to cafe, with better coffee than a lot of independent cafes and fantastic quality of produce despite being a chain. With a range of (somewhat) healthy meals, along with mouth-wateringly good tostati melts and macaroni and cheese, Caffe Nero outdoes rival cafes like Costa and Starbucks by maintaining an Italian feel to its menu and undoubtedly having the best pastries and sweets of any coffee shop. Even though Nero is slightly more expensive than the other members of the ‘big three’ cafes, the ambience and independent cafe feel of most Neros manages to secure it a spot as the top cafe chain.
The best pastry shop chain- Gail’s
This was a close call between Gail’s, Patisserie Valerie and Greggs, with Greggs having fast, budget baked goods and the Patisserie having French, boutique-esque pastries, however, Gail’s with their fantastic range of savoury and sweet breads surpassed both due to delicious sourdough, bagels, burgers and more alongside the best pastries outside boutique bakeries. Furthermore, Gail’s and Nero both have something in common- staying true to their origins and heritage, with the original co-owner of the chain being from Tel Aviv, and ensuring that Jewish delicacies have been kept around. This, combined with a great festive menu, makes Gail’s the best pastry shop chain in London.
The best fast food chain- Nando’s
Nando’s, despite being relatively cheap and having the staples of a fast food place such as burgers, chips and fried chicken, offers a more restaurant-like experience than the likes of KFC and McDonalds and also offers an iconic flavour for its food, with the PERI-PERI sauce being used for practically everything at my home, from a dip for dumplings to a filling for halloumi wraps. And unlike Gourmet Burger Kitchen, which offers a fancier alternative to places like Burger King, Nando’s still has low-ish prices and has a distinct flavour to its food. Overall, Nando’s is a casual restaurant which doesn’t feel tacky while still giving its own unique twist to fast food.
The best restaurant chains (Top 3)- ASK Italian, Dishoom, Megan’s
ASK Italian, Dishoom and Megan’s are my picks for the best restaurant chains in London, each for distinct reasons. First up is Megan’s, with ‘posh kebabs’ and a very Surrey spin on Turkish food. With mezze bowls, falafels and delicious halloumi fries along with a fantastic brunch menu and an infamously good cookie dough bake, Megan’s will surely be an iconic high street staple, having just opened a new branch in Dulwich. Next up is Dishoom, with a blend of Persian and West Indian cuisines, with a Persian-themed breakfast menu complemented by some of the best masala chai in the country and Indian staples for lunch such as naan and paneer. Dishoom has also got a great ambience, bringing Mumbai’s dining traditions to London. Finally, ASK Italian, which takes Italian food and makes it even more luxurious, is my favourite Italian chain in London, due to its rectangular pizzas, delicious arancinis and terrifyingly delectable desserts such as the Chocolate Etna and their tiramisu. It also has great lemonade, making it perfect for a long summer’s day. Overall, these chains all have the hallmarks of a good restaurant, with unique ambiences, menus that balance trendy and traditional and, most of all, scarily unhealthy desserts.