London's restaurant revolution left Victoria behind like a historical relic.
It's a place where workers and travellers eat fast food while waiting for slow trains: A point of departure, not a destination. But that is changing.
With a railway station at its heart and a vacuum of busy streets and office buildings in its soul, development is taking over.
The brand new Nova Victoria office, retail and residential complex has no fewer than 17 restaurants. There's Barbecoa barbecue from TV chef Jamie Oliver, a Shake Shack and Timmy Green, an Australian-style casual brasserie with everything from brunch to late cocktails.
The surrounding streets—a stone's throw from Buckingham Palace and Westminster Cathedral—are now home to some of the capital's most exciting restaurants. There are two—A. Wong and Lorne— where I regularly cross London to dine.
Here's my list of some very good places to eat within a brisk six-minute walk from the Victoria train station. The farthest is eight minutes if you prefer to dawdle.
A. WongChef Andrew Wong inherited this Chinese restaurant from his parents and has turned it into one of the most exciting places to eat in London. He has rethought dim sum. For example, traditional Shanghai dumplings that you'd normally dunk in vinegar are injected with it.
OlivomareThis Sardinian seafood and shellfish restaurant is very low profile and yet serves some of the best fish in London. The Escher-like black and white dining room is star enough but go for the food: simple grilled fish or diced tuna with sweet and sour vegetable relish with pine nuts. The Sardinian wines are good, too.
LorneThis inexpensive modern-European establishment is the best new London restaurant of the year so far. I like it because it focuses on a few seasonal ingredients cooked to perfection. Chef Peter Hall worked with Philip Howard at The Square. Lunch starts at 15 pounds.
Dominique Ansel BakeryCronut king Dominique Ansel arrived in London a few months ago. Be prepared to queue for superb coffee, with cakes and cookies baked upstairs. Is it worth the wait? Yes. Who else would create dishes just for Londoners, like an Eton Mess lunchbox?
Hai CenatoThis is the new restaurant of Chef Jason Atherton and his first stab at New York-Italian food. What does that mean? The portions are generous! Go for pizzas, pasta and cocktails.
The GoringThis luxury hotel and restaurant near Buckingham Palace is a favorite with the Royal Family. Not surprisingly, it is very posh. If you're looking for a traditional Sunday roast (seen through French eyes) this is the place.
AsterNordic-French cuisine may sound unlikely, but Finnish Chef Helena Puolakka makes it work at this large venue with restaurant, bar, café and deli. Think Arctic char with Greenland prawns, aubergine caviar and dill; or smoked reindeer.
KazanTurkish restaurants in London tend to be affordable and cheerful. Kazan is more sophisticated, with beautiful designs and excellent contemporary cuisine. It is not the place for a late night kebab.