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Restaurant Roundup: Spring 2012


Whether it’s tapas by Tower Bridge or power dining up West, the latest crop of London restaurant openings has plenty to offer group bookers

Hix Belgravia PDR 1206_Hix_Belgravia_PDR_dinner_RESIZED.jpgHix Belgravia
Pont Street, London, SW1X 9EJ
tel: 020 3589 2731

Best for business meetings with big-ticket food.
The new Hix restaurant in the Thompson Belgraves hotel, a fresh transplant from the US, might not have the sex appeal of its cooler older sibling in Soho, but the menu goes beyond the staunchly British dishes we’ve come to expect from the restaurateur. Iberico ham sits alongside Shetland Isles halibut and Dorset blue lobster on the six group dining menus, which are served in the 22-seater private dining space (pictured left) that can be split for smaller gatherings of 8 or 12. Why not kick proceedings off with a signature Hix Fix or a classic Negroni in the 40-capacity Mark’s Bar Snug?

Private Dining Room: 22 (8, 12) Exclusive Use: n/a

Aubaine Mayfair 1202_AubaineMayfair_RESIZED.jpgAubaine Mayfair
31 Dover Street, W1S 4ND
tel: 020 3589 2732

Best for budget-conscious elegance.
All breezy Gallic coolness and piles of patisserie, Aubaine Mayfair's all-day dining salon already feels right at home on Dover Street. However, don’t be fooled by the casual café vibe; this place takes events seriously. The pair of private rooms couldn’t be more different from one another – Le Jardin is a plant-lined conservatory space for summer dining of up to 20 seated or 35 standing guests, while the lower-ground Le Cave is an atmospheric vaulted cellar for 30 or 45. Med-influenced cooking makes for suitably crowd-pleasing set menu and canapé options – oysters, beef tartar, smoked salmon millefeuille and so on. Set menus start at a very reasonable £30 per head.

Private Dining Rooms: 20, 30
Exclusive Use: 225

Cinnamon Soho 1203_cinnamon_soho_Downstairs_RESIZED.jpgCinnamon Soho
5 Kingly Street, W1B 5PF
tel: 020 7437 1664

Best for sharing plates and cocktails.
Having conquered Westminster and the City, the Cinnamon Club team has brought its flashy Indian cuisine to Soho. Marble-topped tables and dark-wood walls give gloss to the  ground-floor restaurant, where keen pricing and the famous spiced cocktails set the tone. The flexible menu gives the classics a subcontinental makeover – Bangla-Scotch egg, rogan josh shepherd’s pie, Punjabi-style fish and masala chips, for example – and lends itself particularly well to finger and bowl food. While not 100% private (the restaurant loos are at the far end), the basement dining room makes a cool party space for 50, especially with its late licence until 1am.

Private Dining Room: 34 Exclusive Use: 150

Novikov 1110_Novikov_-_RESIZED.jpgNovikov
50a Berkeley Street, W1J 8HA
tel: 020 7399 4330

Best for power dining.
Presumably, Novikov is Russian for ‘what recession?’ – at least that’s the message delivered by this big, ballsy opening from Moscow’s most famous restaurateur. The Berkeley Street building (formerly Café Grand Prix) houses the Asian Restaurant, serving up a hit parade of high-end pan-Asian – sushi, Wagyu beef, black cod in miso and so on – but you’ll find the event space in the Italian Restaurant, which is as warm and woody as a 150-cover space can be. At the back of the room, a pair of private dining rooms seats 18 apiece, or can be joined for a banquet of 36. Groups can choose to pull round thick velvet curtains for extra privacy. Menus stick with tradition, delivering Italian classics such as beef carpaccio, grilled sea bass with caponata, ossobuco and crab tagliolini. Exclusive use could be arranged, but it’ll cost you.

Private Dining Room: 36 (18, 18) Exclusive Use: n/a

The Delaunay The_Delaunay_2012_-_The_Delaunay_Restaurant_RESIZED.jpgThe Delaunay
55 Aldwych, London WC2B 4BB
Tel: 020 7499 8558

Best for difficult-to-please clients.
We don’t use the words ‘any occasion’ lightly here at Venues & Events, but The Delaunay, little sister to The Wolseley, is one of those rare places that can be as formal or relaxed as required. The location on the Covent Garden-Temple border means you’re just as likely to be sitting next to barristers as theatre-goers in the genteel grand café interior. The European brasserie-style menu is a safe bet – brunch is popular, but there is also a line-up of crustacea and more grown-up main courses alongside some Mittel-European specialities. All this can be enjoyed from one or both of the handsome private dining rooms, which seat 8 and 14 but can be joined for a single table of 24. Minimum spend applies.

Private Dining Rooms: 24 (8, 14) Exclusive use: n/a

Pizarro PDR_at_Pizarro_RESIZED.jpgPizarro
194 Bermondsey Street, London, SE1 3TQ
tel: 020 7378 9455

Best for relaxed entertaining.
Sometimes being a group pays off – when you can beat a no-bookings policy, for example, like the one at this wildly popular Bermondsey tapas restaurant, by taking the private room. The unstarchy wood-clad dining space isn’t the only refreshing aspect of Pizarro; the menu is free from all the usual tapas clutter with a short list of dishes that ranges from the simple – croquetas and boquerones – to the cheffy, such as sea bream with black cabbage and clams or partridge escabeche. The private dining room is an intimate affair, seating eight. Cheery staff and a great wine list with loads by the glass add to the general bonhomie of the place.

Private Dining Room: 8 Exclusive Use: n/a

Dabbous Dabbous_2012_-_Dabbous_bar_RESIZED.jpgDabbous
39 Whitfield Street, London, W1T 2SF
tel: 020 7323 1544

Best for serious gastronomes.
The word on the lips of London’s food-lovers at the moment is the surname of next-big-thing Ollie Dabbous, who has just opened his first restaurant on the back of his Michelin-starred success at Texture. A former internet café seems an unlikely location, but the two-storey space has been kitted out in a cool, post-industrial style that demands to be taken seriously. The intent is born out in the menu, with dishes such as beef tartare with cigar oil, whiskey and rye, or barbecued Iberico pork with savoury acorn praline, turnip tops and homemade apple vinegar. Up to 36 can be accommodated in the main dining room, though there’s more fun to be had for larger groups below stairs in the 80-capacity basement bar, where private parties can whirl through the quirky signature cocktails with their canapés. The restaurant is closed on Monday, so private bookings are welcomed.

Private Dining Room: n/a Exclusive Use: 140

This article first appeared in Square Meal Venues & Events, spring 2012

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