21 August 2014

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Restaurant roundup: summer 2013


This spring saw some heavyweight London restaurant openings. Here’s our pick of the top new destinations for group dining

Words: Anna Kibbey

The Pearson Room


Colourful food in corporate-friendly surrounds

Expect vibrant global cooking and killer cocktails at Docklands’ latest arrival, The Pearson Room, which sits alongside the Reebok Sports Club on Canada Square. The 120-cover dining room, all butch dark timber, galvanized steel and industrial light fittings, ticks all the business dining boxes, while the menu champions trend-conscious compilations like fish tacos with chipotle aïoli and pickled jalapeños, and queenie scallops with n’duja and gremolata. The wine list, overseen by sommelier Sunaina Sethi (formerly of Trishna), is similarly international. Groups can enjoy it all from the private dining room, a bright space with cracking views across Canada Square.

Private dining room: 12  Exclusive use: –

16-19 Canada Square, London, E14 5ER, tel: 020 7970 0920 

Bird of Smithfield 


A private members’ club feel without the fee

The culinary credentials of this hefty addition to Smithfield Street were never in doubt – chef-patron Alan Bird has been head chef at The Ivy for 15 years – but Bird of Smithfield is as much about the atmosphere as the modern British menu. As well as the tweed-clad dining room, the handsome five-floor townhouse holds a basement cocktail bar, The Birdcage, with a bang-up-to-date cocktail list and live music nights; a lounge bar with casual dining; and a roof terrace overlooking the market’s towers (sections can be booked for groups pre-dinner). The lovely second-floor PDR has a chef’s table, so up to 30 guests can see the head honcho at work. 

Private dining room: 30  Exclusive use: 180

26 Smithfield Street, London, EC1A 9LB, tel: 020 7559 5100

Kaspar’s Seafood Bar & Grill 


Sparkling seafood, swish surrounds  

Seafood is delivered in some style at the newest addition to the restaurant roster at The Savoy. As well as a suitably showstopping seafood bar and Thames panoramas, the swish 20s-inspired interior features a semi-private dining room for up to 12 guests. This being The Savoy, expect seafood to come in form of caviar and Dover sole rather than whelks and cockles, with slicked-up crowd-pleasers like lemon sole goujons and a lobster club sandwich, as well as an impressive line-up of smoked and cured fish. Book for a party of 13 and you’ll be joined by Kaspar, the famous cat himself.

Private dining room: 12  Exclusive use: 114

The Savoy, The Strand, London WC2R 0EU, tel: 020 7836 4343



Upmarket all-American with prime PDR

Not new, but certainly refreshed after a four-month refurb, Covent Garden favourite Christopher’s has unveiled a swish new art deco interior. Food sticks to the all-American theme – USDA prime steaks sit alongside Maryland crab cakes – while the slicked-up Martini Bar delivers killer cocktails. The restaurant has also added a significant private dining space, the Club Room, for 40 seated diners or a reception for 80 guests. The clean-cut PDR has its own bar and AV facilities and there’s no room hire fee. 

Private dining room: 40  Exclusive use: 150

18 Wellington Street, WC2E 7DD, tel: 020 7240 4222



Feel-good Italian cooking and communal dining  

The name, which means ‘group of friends’ in Venetian dialect, sums up this convivial Italian newcomer in Victoria, where warm wood, terracotta and affordable prices set the tone front of house and chefs from Cecconi’s and Shoreditch House man the stoves. Sharing dishes and a large communal dining table make Tozi a great spot for informal entertaining. Start with barrel-aged negroni, prosecco (which comes on tap), cicchetti – small plates – and platters of wild boar salami, coppa and burrata, before moving on to pastas and mains from the wood-fired oven. 

Private dining room: 20  Exclusive use: –  

8 Gillingham Street, London SW1V 1HJ, tel: 020 7769 9771

Social Eating House


Hot new Atherton bistro in Soho

Fans of Jason Atherton’s Pollen Street Social will be high-tailing it across Regent Street to his new informal British bistro. Headed up by right-hand man Paul Hood, the kitchen serves up gutsy seasonal dishes like ravioli of wild boar bolognaise, peppered hearts and kidney, and duck “smoked ham, egg and chips”. Pricing is more Soho than Mayfair – around £15 for a main – and the décor suitably raffish: exposed brick walls, vintage leather banquettes and restored furniture. Head upstairs to the Blind Pig bar for a Thermo-nuclear daiquiri, or to the basement for the ‘Employees Only’ private dining space, where up to 15 can be seated at a wrap-around chef’s table.

Private dining room: 15 Exclusive use: 60

58-59 Poland Street, W1F 7NR, tel: 020 7993 3251

And finally…
✚ Look out for Tom Aikens’ new place, Tom’s Kitchen Canary Wharf. From mid-June, he’ll be serving up big plates of seasonal British comfort food from brunch to supper in casual surroundings. There’s a 14-seater PDR as well as a private area seating up to 12 people.
Check out Bourne & Hollingsworth’s Kitchen Party (tel: 020 3174 1156), a Clerkenwell pop-up occupied by a rolling line-up of the most exciting experimental chefs in town. The venue holds up to 400 people and you can book each of the three or four ‘restaurant’ experiences exclusively. 
✚ Sail in to The Cutty Sark pub (tel: 020 8858 3146) in Greenwich, where a top-to-toe refurb has taken in its lovely third-floor PDR, the Crow’s Nest, which offers up great river views for 30 guests.
Admire the revamp at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay (tel: 020 3589 1683) on Royal Hospital Road. The spruced up art-deco interior sticks firmly to its ‘serious fine diner’ aesthetic; as does the kitchen, now under the stewardship of chef-patron Clare Smyth.
✚ Line your stomach with lobster rolls, courtesy of ‘punk chef’ Carl Clarke (Disco Bistro) now taking up residency in W1 with Rock Lobsta at Mahiki (tel: 020 7493 9529). The space can be hired for parties of up to 60.
Head to Harrods for the newly opened Mezzah Lounge (tel: 020 7730 1234), serving Middle Eastern mezze and grilled dishes on the store’s fourth floor. The informal atmosphere and sharing plates are perfect for casual get-togethers. Speak to the in-house Bespoke Events team (tel: 020 7225 6736, squaremeal.co.uk/bespoke) about group bookings.
Don your sports jacket for the re-launch of the PDR at Chelsea’s Admiral Codrington (tel: 020 7581 0005). The pub is famous for its world-beating burger, which can now be enjoyed in the revamped, but still homely, space by up to 30 guests.

This article was first printed in Square Meal Venues & Events, summer 2013

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