22 October 2020
Spring at Somerset House, the Strand
Before Skye Gyngell launched Spring restaurant in the West Wing of Somerset House, the room had been closed to the public for more than 150 years. Designed by architecture practise Stuart Forbes Associates in collaboration with Gyngell's sister Briony Fitzgerald, the light-filled large dining room combines stately grandeur with ethereal beauty, in marble, pastel pink and caramel tones. It is warm, elegant and inviting – much like Gyngell’s dishes.
Address: Lancaster Place, London WC2R 1LA
Housed in a column-fronted, four-storey Georgian building on Motcomb Street, Pantechnicon is Belgravia's behemoth new retail and dining destination, which opened in September. The ambitious project combines Japanese and Nordic influences across two restaurants, a cocktail lounge, a patisserie and a rooftop garden with a retractable glass roof, created by Finnish garden designer Taina Suonio. The ground floor beautifully curates 150 Japanese and Nordic brands, including the first standalone Café Kitsuné outpost in the UK.
Address: 19 Motcomb Street, London SW1
The Gallery at Sketch, Mayfair
A multifaceted venue like no other, Sketch blurs the lines between art gallery and dining space. Mourad Mazouz’s Mayfair gastrodome includes four restaurants and an additional two bars, alongside the world-famous futuristic space pods-cum-bathroom cubicles. Designed by India Mahdavi, the powder pink Gallery restaurant is furnished with scalloped velvet seating and hung with David Shrigley drawings. The only thing to rival the interiors is chef Frédéric Don's menu of riotous dishes.
Details: afternoon tea is served in The Gallery from 11am-4pm, currently followed by dinner from 5pm-8.30pm
Address: 9 Conduit Street, Mayfair, London W1S 2XG
Claude Bosi at Bibendum, South Kensington
With its Art Deco stained glass and tiled exterior, Bibendum on Fulham Road has been a London landmark since it opened in 1911 as the first permanent UK headquarters for the Michelin Tyre Company Ltd. In 1987, it reopened as Terrence Conran's flagship restaurant, with an oyster bar on the ground floor. You can still eat oysters on arrival at Bibendum, while upstairs leads to Claude Bosi's celebrated French restaurant. The historic Michelin Man is omnipresent – in the butter dish, on the salt and pepper pots and positioned in the building's three stained glass windows.
Address: Michelin House, 81 Fulham Road, London SW3 6RD
Chiltern Firehouse, Marylebone
Few people get to stay at Chiltern Firehouse, the 1889 neo-Gothic former fire station turned A-list hotel in Marylebone, given that the property only has 26 guestrooms. You’ll likely have seen pictures of its public spaces, however, so Instagrammable are the interiors of André Balazs' first European hotel. What was once a fire engine appliance room is now an American-inspired restaurant run by Nuno Mendes. It features hand-woven Indian jute ceiling panels, original tile flooring, exposed-brick walls and a woven-canvas ceiling. A soft-lit space of honeys, golds and creams, Chiltern Firehouse makes everyone look sexy – small wonder that celebrities adore it so much.
Address: 1 Chiltern St, Marylebone, London, W1U 7PA
The Wolseley, Mayfair
The Wolseley, built in 1921, was a car showroom, a bank and a Chinese restaurant before British restaurateurs Chris Corbin and Jeremy King turned it into an upscale European grand café in 2003. Retaining many of the building’s original features, the interior walls of The Wolseley are made of polished Portland stone with blue York stone dressings. The floor, laid with black and white marble in intricate geometric designs, is also from the 1920s. The ceiling consists of nine giant domes supported by Doric columns, which were originally finished in red Japanese lacquer. When David Collins Studio renovated the space in the early 2000s, it covered the red lacquer columns with black wrapping, yet chose to preserve most of the initial interior details.
Address: 160 Piccadilly, St. James's, London, W1J 9EB
Petersham Nurseries, Richmond
Part cafe, part garden centre, Petersham Nurseries is a verdant haven perched on the periphery of Richmond. If you can tear yourself away from the brimming emporium of homeware, houseplants and gardening paraphernalia, the glass-roofed restaurant is a must-visit. Rustic garden furniture, hanging baskets and a climbing canopy of bougainvillea transforms this would-be greenhouse into a chic dining spot, where seasonal dishes are served using produce from the resident kitchen garden.
Address: Church Lane, TW10
Hélène Darroze at The Connaught, Mayfair
In 2019, 10 years into her reign as head chef at The Connaught, Hélène Darroze shut shop. Her hiatus was brief, and with purpose: to redesign the restaurant she had presided over for the best part of a decade. French designer Pierre Yovanovitch gave the room a refreshing update, stripping back the original mahogany panels to create a lighter space and painting the walls a cocooning salmon pink. For the best seat in the house book the marble pink chef’s table, where up to 12 guests can watch the kitchen in action.
Address: The Connaught, Carlos Place, W1K
Lina Stores, King's Cross
If Wes Anderson opened an Italian restaurant, this would surely be it. Housed within a Victorian transit shed behind Granary Square, Lina Stores’ King's Cross restaurant and deli makes the most of its signature mint green hue, with bar stools, chairs and banquette seating all upholstered in the sugarplum shade. Decorated with globe pendant lighting, Formica furniture and a striking Italian marble floor, the restaurant is ready-made Instagram fodder, and that’s even before the food arrives. Go for the interiors and stay for the freshly-made pasta, gelato and charcuterie boards, which will transport you to Italian holidays gone-by with each bite.
Address: 20 Sable Street, N1C
Visiting Annabel’s is perhaps one of the few occasions when judging a book by its cover is permissible. The private members’ club is renowned for dressing its Georgian townhouse facade with ostentatious displays, from gigantic Christmas trees to rainforest-inspired archways – and inside is no different. Designed by Martin Brudnizki, who used ‘the spirit of English eccentricity’ as a starting point, the Berkeley Square space gets more whimsical with each room, from the unicorn sculpture that hangs in the stairwell to the basement nightclub which is peppered with full-height faux palm trees. Female visitors should make a beeline for the bathroom, where the ceiling is lined with handmade silk flowers and the sinks carved out of baby pink onyx.
Address: 46 Berkeley Square, W1J
Italy by way of Shoreditch can be found at Gloria, whose 1970s Capri-style decor is as bonkers as it is beautiful. The ethos here is go big or go home, and it’s a sentiment that is felt as much in the interiors as it is in the menu. Sunshine yellow awnings and an army of terracotta pots set the tone for what’s to come: two dining rooms both championing bombastic design for different moods. Upstairs, a marble-clad space is peppered with explosions of flowers and seersucker striped benches, while the downstairs room is moodier, with 70s-inspired decor and a mirrored ceiling. Both settings make for the perfect backdrop to a dinner of giant peach-topped pizzas, pasta served in wheels of cheese and a towering lemon meringue pie. Visit the bathrooms for a surprise — the two-way mirror doors are entertaining, if a little shocking for those not in the know.
Address: 54-56 Great Eastern Street, EC2A
Berners Tavern, Fitzrovia
Having opened in 2013, it didn’t take long for Ian Schrager’s The London EDITION to garner a reputation as one of the capital’s most exciting design-led hotels. Within the Grade II-listed Georgian building is Jason Atherton’s Berners’ Tavern, a restaurant lauded as much for the food it serves as the tastefully imagined way it’s been designed. On 18ft-high walls, hung salon-style, is a collection of 185 historic and contemporary portraits, landscapes and still-life photographs. Above are chandeliers inspired by those in New York’s Grand Central Station, while all around are what look like original features from a 19th-century ballroom.
Address: 10 Berners St, W1T 3NP
45 Jermyn St, St James's
Part of Fortnum & Mason – and accessed via Jermyn Street at the back of the department store, as its name suggests – 45 Jermyn Street only opened in 2015. Yet step inside, through a custom-made wooden revolving door, and you’d think it’s been there since Edwardian times, such is the success with which Martin Brudnizki Design Studio has captured the rich history of Fortnum’s original Fountain Restaurant. Under a low white ceiling, cosy booths and rosewood tables sit on traditional oak parquet flooring. A white marble bar complements a mint-green-and-burnt-orange colour scheme. Even the toilets possess a classy, old-school glamour.
Address: 45 Jermyn St, St. James's, SW1Y 6DN
The Vault Bar & Lounge at The Ned, The City
What was once the former Midland Bank building is now one of London’s leading restaurant destinations. In fact, The Ned boasts nine eateries, as well as 252 bedrooms, a private members’ club and untold event spaces. Downstairs, hidden behind a two-metre-thick, 20-tonne safe-door, is The Vault Bar & Lounge. Inside is a 1920s-style cocktail bar and dining room lined with more than 3,000 original safety deposit boxes. You'll have to become a member to be let in, mind.
Address:27 Poultry, EC2R 8AJ
Bob Bob Cité, The City
If Soho’s Bob Bob Ricard is meant to embody the Orient Express, its Square Mile sister Bob Bob Cité is a futuristic bullet train. Shiny, loud and proud, the restaurant is what you might imagine you’d find in the dining cart of a spaceship, with a metallic ceiling, sparkling walls and silver accents almost everywhere you look. Much like Bob Bob Ricard, the restaurant's seating is all boothed (all the better to host a business meeting), and there's a souped-up version of the famous 'press for champagne' button: in Bob Bob Cité, it's ‘presser pour champagne’ in honour of the French cuisine. Push it and the rolling ticker tape that lines the ceiling (a tribute to the Stock Exchange) will light up your table number, signalling a waiter to fill up your glass. There are also two fabulous private dining rooms located at either end of the restaurant, each with its own dedicated bar.
Address: Level 3, 122 Leadenhall Street, EC3V