With the sunshine here (for now), it’s time to look at those restaurants that offer outdoor areas for al fresco dining and (in my case) smoking.

Black & Blue (www.blackandbluerestaurants.com) – Borough Market

T: 020 7357 9922

Located next to all the hustle and bustle of Borough Market, Black & Blue features a courtyard to the front of the building, perfect for watching all the action, with seating for 24 people. In addition to the speciality steaks, which are dry-aged and tenderised for a minimum of 28 days, Black & Blue also serves a selection of dishes from the grill, a variety of fish as well as salads and vegetarian dishes. Al fresco also available at Black & Blue’s Belsize Park and Notting Hill restaurants.

Indian Zing (www.indianzing.co.uk) – Hammersmith

Offers a covered patio to the rear of the elegant dining room, which allows al fresco dining for 15 when weather permits. New for 2009 is the arrival of two tables to the front of the restaurant. Chef/Proprietor Manoj Vasaikar’s name has become synonymous with creative and exciting Indian cooking and his dishes display a lightness of touch and understanding of flavour.

Mortimer’s Grill – (www.mortimersgrill.co.uk) – Noho, London W1

T: 020 7436 0451

Offering one of the largest al fresco terraces in central London, with seating (and heating, if required) for 100, Mortimer’s Grill (previously Mortimer’s), serves an all-day menu, featuring quality steaks and burgers, rotisserie dishes including spit-roast dishes, such as French, corn-fed chicken, accompanied by Mortimer’s signature hand-cut chips.

Outside London:

Hand & Flowers (www.thehandandflowers.co.uk) – Marlow

T: 01628 482277

This Michelin-starred pub and dining room also has a garden terrace area seating 20 which is fringed by pots of mini conifers with large decorative umbrellas. Chef Patron Tom Kerridge recently introduced a 2-course lunch menu for just £10, featuring pub favourites. This is served alongside his à la carte menu which offers more refined British and French flavours.

L’enclume (www.lenclume.co.uk) – Cartmel, Lake District

T: 015395 36362

Michelin starred L’enclume ‘gastronomic restaurant with rooms’ in the picturesque village of Cartmel, Cumbria, backs onto a small garden overlooking the river and onto Cartmel Priory. This is a delightful spot for tea or pre-dinner drinks. Chef patron Simon Rogan uses many locally sourced ingredients to create his signature ‘taste and texture’ menus, including specially grown herbs, roots and tinctures.

The Royal Oak Paley Street (www.royaloakpaleystreet.com) – Berkshire

T: 01628 620 541

Set in the Berkshire countryside, the pub offers a large terrace, seating around 50, which has recently been landscaped and is a beautiful setting on sunny days to enjoy a drink and a meal. The Royal Oak Paley Street is owned and run by Sir Michael Parkinson and his son Nick. Head Chef Dominic Chapman serves acclaimed seasonal menus offering the finest British ingredients, including a great value set lunch and dinner.

Bingham (www.thebingham.co.uk) – Banks of the River Thames, Richmond

T: 020 8940 0902

Situated in a chic Georgian townhouse, both the Bingham restaurant and bar benefit from an enviable position offering stunning views along the Thames. Huge French doors lead from the dining room and bar to a heated terrace, which makes the most of the garden and river vistas and offers a tranquil backdrop to enjoy head chef Shay Cooper’s Modern European menu.