South Bank London

Celebrate graduation day in South Bank


One of the biggest state-of-the-art concert halls in London, Royal Festival Hall at Southbank Centre is a leading venue for the graduation ceremonies of top universities including Kings College London, UCL and London South Bank University.

Following the ceremony a stroll along the riverside for graduation pictures with London’s iconic landmarks is de rigeur. And once your photoshoots are finished it’s time to finally relax and start celebrating with a special occasion lunch or dinner to remember.

If you’re graduating in South Bank this year we’ve rounded up some ideas for graduation lunches and dinners to suit every occasion!

* Unless otherwise indicated, we recommend booking tables well in advance as walk-in tables are hard to rely on, particularly during graduation weeks.

Photo by Southbank Centre, University of Roehampton Graduation Ceremonies

Something fancy

If you're planning on getting the family together to splash out on a fancy meal, get your bookings in for these unique South Bank restaurants, all known for their fine food, excellent wine menus and one-of-a-kind locations right on the riverfront.

Skylon Restaurant & Bar

GREAT FOR: Celebratory lunches in a prime Royal Festival Hall location

Graduation celebrations offer: Get complimentary bottle of Nyetimber Classic Cuvee on the house if you pre-book in advance online with the code “Graduation”!

The glamourous Skylon offers stunning views over the Thames from its position on the third floor of the Royal Festival Hall. Serving up modern British cuisine with plenty of seasonal contemporary flare, given its prime location in the heart of the action Skylon is always a popular spot for a special graduation day meal.

Skylon

Lasdun

GREAT FOR: Modern British brassiere, with elegant private dining room for ten

Graduation celebrations offer: All graduates get a complimentary bubbly glass when booking your graduation dinner using this link. 

Tucked away in a discreet location inside the modernist masterpiece that is the National Theatre, the Lasdun restaurant is a critic’s favourite, richly praised for its exceptional British bistro fare. Popular with a pre-theatre crowd, the restaurant is usually only open in the evenings (from 5pm), although lunch is also available 12pm-3pm on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

Lasdun

OXO Tower Restaurant, Bar & Brasserie

GREAT FOR: Rooftop views over the river

Choose from more casual upscale dining at the brasserie or push the boat out and book for a tasting menu at the fine dining restaurant at this famous rooftop destination. Occupying the top floor of the distinctive Oxo Tower building, the views across the river are second to none. If the weather is fine, a table on the famous terrace makes for a particularly special occasion.

OXO Tower Restaurant

Off the beaten path

Looking for somewhere a bit different for your graduation day lunch, that's away from the crowds but still packed with atmosphere and serving top notch cuisine? Try these restaurants tucked away inside some of South Bank's most impressive heritage landmark buildings.

Garden Café

GREAT FOR: Exquisite seasonal cuisine in a lush garden setting

Frequently referred to as one of South Bank’s finest ‘hidden gems’, this small pared-back restaurant adjoining the Garden Museum (about 20 minutes walk along the river from the Southbank Centre) serves some of the finest seasonal cuisine in the neighbourhood. Menus change every few days and may feature anything from Cornish lobster to homemade ham hock terrine and rhubarb pudding. There’s also a great wine list and on sunny days their courtyard garden tables are a stunning spot to kick back and relax.

Garden Cafe

Gillray's Steakhouse & Bar

GREAT FOR: Lunch in grand surroundings with a stunning view of Big Ben

When it comes to iconic London views, few restaurants can beat Gillray’s at the Marriott hotel. Occupying a prime riverfront spot inside the historic County Hall, you can enjoy a super steak lunch while looking out over the river at the Elizabeth Tower. They take their steaks very seriously here (you even get to choose your own knives!) and if you enjoy craft gins their bar has one of the biggest selections in town.

Gillray's Steakhouse & Bar

A celebratory lunch with the kids 

If you're going to be spending graduation day with your children, or the little ones from your extended family, then a family-friendly venue is a must. Here's our pick of South Bank's many family-friendly restaurants that are well worth booking for that special occasion lunch.

Comptoir Libanais

GREAT FOR: Mezze platters to share and a huge choice of delicious soft drinks

This colorful restaurant is the perfect venue for a family lunch after graduation, located right next to the Royal Festival Hall. The little ones get their own their own kid's menu, or alternatively, why not order a mezze platter feast to share amongst the family. This is also one of the best venues in South Bank for those who don’t drink alcohol with a huge selection of delicious homemade sodas, lemonades, mocktails and iced teas.

Comptoir Libanais

Brasserie Blanc

GREAT FOR: Chic brasserie dining a stone’s throw from Royal Festival Hall

A great choice for a special occasion lunch that's super welcoming of children, the Brasserie Blanc restaurant is also located just behind Royal Festival Hall meaning it's only a short distance to walk for any restless little ones! Expect an accomplished menu of brasserie favourites with plenty of seasonal options, plus special menus for the kids. For larger groups there’s also a brilliant private dining area (book well in advance as this is especially popular).

Brasserie Blanc

Al fresco drinks and bites with friends

If graduation day for you means celebrating with your mates, then make a beeline for these classy South Bank restaurants and bars where you can sit on the terrace and enjoy the views while raising a toast to your success.

Forza Wine at National Theatre

GREAT FOR: Italian-ish small plates and natural wines, with a sunny wraparound terrace.

Graduation celebrations offer: Tables of 4+ people booking for graduation celebrations get a bottle of something sparkling on the house when you book via this link. 

For smart-casual drinks with some of the best views in South Bank, book a table at the trendy Forza Wine at National Theatre, famous for their inventive cocktails, boutique wines and delicious small plates. If you can’t get a spot in the restaurant-bar proper and are looking for a place for drinks, the Forza Taps summer terrace takes walk-ins. Try the signature Custardo (made famous by the Off Menu podcast) for dessert before you leave!

Forza Wine

Limin’

GREAT FOR: Caribbean cocktails and authentic jerk chicken on a courtyard beach

Soak up the sounds and tastes of the Caribbean at South Bank’s very own Trinidadian beach bar Limin’ at Gabriel’s Wharf (next to the Oxo Tower). This fun spot is as authentically Trini’ as they come. A great spot for a laidback lunch after your graduation, and perhaps some tropical rum cocktails to celebrate all that hard work paying off, there’s indoor seating and a cute beach area in the courtyard for those hot sunny afternoons.

Limin'

La Gamba

GREAT FOR: Riverside tapas and sangria at Royal Festival Hall

Toast to your success with Spanish tapas and sangria on the terrace at the Galician restaurant La Gamba that opens right out onto the Queen’s Walk at Royal Festival Hall. A great option for casual drinks and small plates with friends after the ceremony, on weekday lunch times you can take advantage of the tapas set lunch menu with your choice of three plates coming in at £19.95. Terrace seating is limited so make sure to book well in advance.

La Gamba

The Understudy

GREAT FOR: Casual pub and street food venue with a huge outdoor terrace right on the river.

Graduation celebrations offer: Every graduate gets a glass of prosecco on the house, or a bottle for a table of 4+ when you book online at this link. 

The Understudy is the National Theatre's bustling bar and street food destination, an ideal spot to kick off a summer's evening of casual post-graduation drinks. There's a mouthwatering street food menu that includes the best smash burgers, Singaporean noodles and Armenian flatbreads, as well as a banging drinks menu of local craft beers, cocktails and wines.

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