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Get back in THERE!

The great day is upon us, when we can finally cosy up in the convivial interior of one of London’s fantastic eateries. Joanna Taylor picks the best places to chow down with abandon

Shimmy off your coat, peel off one of those 15 layers and grace the world with a flash of ankle, because this city — our city — is about to glisten once again. As of Monday, the joys of gobbling, slurping, clinking, sashaying and donning our glad rags are back, and after weeks of dribbling burger sauce down North Face puffers and fighting tooth and nail for sub-standard reservations, we bloomin’ well deserve it. Finally, the only challenge we’ve left to face is deciding what tickles our fancy, and my, oh my, is there a lot to choose from.

For city dwellers who’ve missed that bright lights, big city feeling, it’s time to teeter up to Searcys at The Gherkin, where the only acceptable way to take in the capital’s wondrous skyline is with a torrent of champagne — and they’ll upgrade your Moët to a magnum from Monday to Wednesday.

Celebrate newfound freedoms in style at the bustling Brasserie Zédel, where a live band makes the mouthwatering menu of indulgent French classics all the more fabulous.

If you’re looking for something a little cosier, make your way to WC Bloomsbury for retro cocktails such as the chocolatey lime-green Grasshopper, which promise to keep you there until closing.

Dine like Henry VIII at the Soho outpost of Blacklock, where the juicy chops, Negronis and dollops of rhubarb cheesecake are almost as good as you’ll look in the candlelight.

For hearty, unfussy and wholly authentic Malaysian food, trot around the corner to C&R Cafe for fried chicken wings with sambal sauce, ladles of kway teow soup and Kampung-style nasi goreng. And don’t forget to polish it all off with a Magic Hour pineapple, rum and amaro cocktail at The Mulwray just a few doors away.

Got your eyes on the pies? Gallivant along to Quo Vadis, where Jeremy Lee’s bathtub-like dishes topped with flakey, buttery pastry beckon, and the smoked eel sandwich will have you declaring your love for the sea serpent in no time.

For a slap-up slice of the action, make a pilgrimage south to Mike’s Peckham, a tip-top new pizza spot from the brains behind nearby Camberwell Arms and Frank’s, where traditions go out the window and chefs have only one rule: to make each doughy morsel as delicious as possible — and yes, that means there will be pineapple.

Speaking of dough, don’t waste any time in trotting on up to Finsbury Park for a peek at Big Jo. Masterminded by those behind Jolene, its zinc-clad worktops and cinnamon buns are as delightful as you’d expect, but we’re hanging around for simple, seasonal dishes like the mackerel and warm tomato salad.

In the mood for a dishy fish? Book in at Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill for all the fruits de mer your heart could desire and the very best British bubbles.

Make a beeline for Cafe Bao in King’s Cross, where Taiwanese and British culture collide to create comforting plates of crunchy aubergine fritters and a trippy ‘Baonoffee’ ice cream sundae reminiscent of the seaside in a Wes Anderson movie.

If you’re not plotting an overseas escape (or even if you are), seek out the Greek greatness of Suzi Tros in Notting Hill for a sunny selection of calamari, chicken thigh gyro tacos and the infamous Summer In Hydra cocktail, where ouzo is the star of the show.

Of course, St John Bread and Wine in Spitalfields is always a good idea, and the laid-back menu of the weird, wonderful, carnivorous delights always goes down a treat with a bottle (or two) of its house red — the St John Rouge from Languedoc.