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This autumn has delivered a stack of blockbusting new openings in the City and West End. Here’s our pick of the top spots for group dining
1 Snowden Street, London EC2A 2DQ, tel: 020 3657 4777
Best for haute cuisine, Japan-style
After the arrival of the skyscraping Sushisamba, the City’s power-lunchers are now clicking their chopsticks in anticipation of the Hakkasan Group’s glossy new launches in the Broadgate West development. The first, Chrysan, is a partnership with Yoshihiro Murata, who holds three Michelin stars in Kyoto. Groups can enjoy top-end regional Japanese cooking – Murata is a master of kaiseki, the highest form of Japanese haute cuisine – in multiple courses at the eight-seater chef’s table or in the PDR for 14. Next door, HKK, set to open later this year, will operate a single tasting menu of Chinese and Cantonese cooking with the same ‘high quality, high price’ ethos.
Private Dining Rooms: 8, 14 Exclusive use: n/a
3 South Place, London EC2M 2AF, tel: 020 3503 0000
Best for traditional British fare in a stylish, ultra-modern setting
Glossy new D&D property South Place, behind Liverpool Street Station, houses a pair of suitably slick restaurants. We’re already slavering over the highlights of the Brit-Am menu at 3 South Place (tel: 020 3215 1270): Melton Mowbray pork pie, lobster mac and hot salt beef. Up on the seventh floor, British shellfish and crustacea take centre stage at Angler (tel: 020 3215 1260), where cool Conran interiors meet City vistas through the floor-to-ceiling windows and there’s a roof terrace with an outdoor grill. Groups can book the 10-seater semi-private dining room, the Chef’s View, which looks out at the Gherkin and Tower 42 and in at the kitchen – it’s the best table in the house – or take advantage of the five meeting spaces on the first floor that double up as PDRs for between eight and 40.
Private Dining Rooms: 8, 12, 12, 40, 40 Exclusive use: 80
16 New Street, London EC2M 4TR,
tel: 020 3503 0780
Best for slap-up steak
Not content with a new hotel across the road, D&D has revamped 10,000sq ft of an 18th-century brick warehouse opposite Liverpool Street station. Inside, the Fish Market (tel: 020 3503 0790) is the most relaxed of the four venues on offer, serving ‘a taste of the British seaside’ – retro favourites such as cockles and whelks – in the 60-cover dining room and terrace. The New Street Grill (tel: 020 3503 0785), a ‘modern British meat house’, has a more formal feel and a traditional grill menu that stars Black Angus beef, 21-day dry-aged from Devon or 40-day aged USDA prime from Kansas. Start with the likes of dressed crab. The 30-seater PDR shares the same rough-luxe aesthetic as the main room.
Private Dining Room: 30 Exclusive use: n/a
95-97 High Holborn, London WC1V 6LF,
tel: 020 7242 4580
Best for rustic French cuisine with an urban vibe
The team behind the ever-reliable Hush Mayfair has opened a new brasserie-style eatery in Holborn. The venue’s French farmhouse look matches the Gallic-inspired menu: croque monsieurs, brioche burgers and moules marinières, to name a few. There’s a good-sized PDR available for up to 40 people, while the restaurant can be hired exclusively for 80 guests.
Private Dining Room: 40 Exclusive use: 80
2 St Bride Street, London EC4A 4AD, tel: 020 3651 2972
Best for DIY gourmet dinners
Is it a restaurant? Is it a cookery school? There’s certainly no clues in the name of Aveqia, a Swedish ‘interactive restaurant’ which has just launched its first international venue on the western fringes of the City. After a glass of Champagne, guests are divided into small groups to chat, drink wine… and cook one course each of a four-course feast – not as potentially calamitous as it sounds, thanks to the guidance of Aveqia’s patient gourmet chefs. Menus promise to be easy to prepare but impressive on the table, and wine, matched by the sommelier, is certainly above the usual ‘one for me, one for the pot’ cooking variety. Straight-up eating experiences are also on offer for the less adventurous.
Private Dining Room: 45 Exclusive use: 85
336-337 Strand, London WC2R 1HA,
tel: 020 3603 9810
Best for dinner and beyond
The first international outpost of Manhattan’s STK opened at the beginning of October in the Foster-designed ME by Melia hotel on the Strand. The London eatery gives the steakhouse format a clubbier vibe and tones down the butch aesthetic of its New York partner with glossy-black, cream and mirrored interiors and a ‘waistline-conscious’ menu. But with Wagyu beef sliders and USDA prime, accompanied by the likes of lobster mac and cheese or sweetcorn fritters, calorie-counting will not be top of our agenda. For privacy from the people-watching, there’s a PDR for up to 16 guests.
Private Dining Room: 16 Exclusive use: 240
Cranbourn Street, London, WC2H 7JH,
tel: 020 7769 8844, squaremeal.co.uk/hippo
Best for deluxe comfort food
The glitzy restaurant in the brand new £40m Hippodrome casino pulls no punches with its high-rolling, crowd-pleasing menu: lobster fish fingers, ‘Millionaire’s’ mac and cheese topped with black truffle shavings and a poached pheasant’s egg, or a ‘posh kebab’. The quartet of swanky private dining rooms is a welcome addition to Leicester Square – where PDRs are a rare breed – allowing guests to take a break from gaming (or book in a sneaky tuition session). We’re excited to hear that the lounge cocktail list has been entrusted to Tony Conigliaro, the pioneering mixologist behind Islington’s 69 Colebrook Row – expect carefully constructed classics.
Private Dining Rooms: 25, 30 Exclusive use: 250
22-24 Basil Street, London SW3 1AT, tel: 020 7591 1202
Best for dress-down dining in Knightsbridge
A healthy blast of fresh Cornish air should blow the cobwebs away at The Capital, as Nathan Outlaw brings his casual Outlaw’s Seafood & Grill to the Knightsbridge hotel this autumn. The chef will be making the most of the West Country’s finest produce – the seafood comes only from the British Isles – with the likes of Cornish crab on toast and whole Port Isaac lobster alongside fine wines from The Capital’s long-established cellar. Sustainability and healthy eating are at the top of Outlaw’s agenda, in a refreshing change of tack for the hotel’s flagship restaurant. The private dining rooms seat 10, 12 or 22.
Private Dining Rooms: 10, 12, 22 Exclusive use: n/a
70 Charlotte Street, London W1T 4QG, tel: 020 7637 7770
Best for fast food or cutting-edge chef’s table
Hotdogs (ten different types, no less) washed down with grower Champagne? It sounds like our perfect evening. In fact, we were so excited about the fast-food offer at Bubbledogs, we overlooked the fact that there’s a pretty fine chef in owner James Knappett (The Ledbury, Noma, The Berkeley) cooking out back for the 19-seater ‘Kitchen Table’. Groups can book the space for avant garde European tasting menus – featuring the likes of chicken skin, grilled onion and burrata milk – at lunchtime (£65 a head) and dinner (£80 a head), with a great-value three-course lunch at £29. With so few covers, the chef will be able to guide you through the food, which can be matched with fine wines from a list that majors in small producers.
Private Dining Room: 19 Exclusive use: n/a
✚ King’s Road fave The Big Easy, will be swinging open its saloon doors in Covent Garden soon. Expect the stack-it-high barbecue and live music, to be a smash hit for parties.
✚ The third Peruvian to open in the past year, Arjun Waney’s Coya, set in a Georgian building on Piccadilly, launches in November. As well as ceviche and pisco bars, there will be a members’ club and a chef’s table for up to 10.
✚ A cavernous site just off Piccadilly Circus will make Hawksmoor Air Street the fourth in the stable this November. It’s fish rather than steak that will be committed to the charcoal. Tables of eight can be booked in the main dining room.
✚ Get an early booking in for one of the restaurants set to open next spring in the Shard. Aqua Restaurant Group will bring a pair of concepts to the 31st and 33rd floors, while Zuma and Roka founders Arjun Waney and Rainer Becker will occupy the 32nd.
✚ From the owners of The Wolseley, Café Colbert will deliver another grand Parisian brasserie, this time to Sloane Square this October. Details are sketchy, but expect classical interiors, a crowd-pleasing menu and a neighbourhoody vibe.
✚ Four years after the King’s Road Sushinho launched its Japanese Brazilian-style cuisine, a second venue is to open, near Liverpool Street station. The 30-seat lower-ground dining room is available for private hire.
✚ Laidback Mediterranean at Apero in South Kensington, where early-evening aperitifs can be followed by contemporary sharing plates, all set against the backdrop of the 19th-century vaults of The Ampersand Hotel.
✚ Charlotte Street’s brand new Wahaca, which is now taking bookings for its 40-seater private room. The first-floor space, which sits off the lively mezcal bar, is a gem of a PDR – perfect for sharing platters of street food washed down with margeritas and mezcal.
✚ Mayfair hotspot Maze has just introduced a sushi bar so diners in the handful of PDRs can incorporate high-end Japanese into the line-up of grill plates and French-Asian fusion.
Charlotte Trussler, an executive assistant at Stonehaven, talks us through which restaurants she likes to book for business meals.
Our offices are based in Mayfair, between Berkeley Square and Shepherd Market, so I tend to book restaurants that are nearby – particularly for quick lunches. The partners’ favourites include Cecconis (tel: 020 7434 1500), Le Caprice (tel: 020 7629 2239) and Le Boudin Blanc (tel: 020 7499 3292).
For a more informal option, there’s Sofra (tel: 020 7493 3320), a Turkish restaurant, which does excellent mezze platters, perfect for sharing.
Most meetings are held in our offices but, if on occasion they are held out and about, they will be at breakfast time, so for that I’d book 1901 at the Andaz Hotel (tel: 020 7618 7000). It’s on Liverpool Street so is convenient for clients coming in from out of town. It serves breakfast from 7am and there’s a choice of full English or continental.
When we have important clients, Scott’s (tel: 020 7307 5783) never fails to impress and a more recent opening, Cut at 45 Park Lane (tel: 020 7493 4545), has also become popular. Following in the same field, Hawksmoor at Seven Dials (tel: 020 7420 9390) has the most delicious food and really good service, the staff are all very informative.
I recently discovered The Summerhouse (tel: 020 7286 6752) in Little Venice. It’s right on the edge of the canal and has adopted marine-style decor, which makes you feel like you’re on a boat. The fish is an absolute must, it’s so fresh.
For private dining rooms, Veeraswamy (tel: 020 7734 1401) is lovely as is the one at the Admiral Codrington (tel: 020 7581 0005).
This was first published in Square Meal Venues & Events magazine, autumn 2012