Privacy Please

From PDRs and chef’s tables to exclusive-use options, here’s what the latest crop of London restaurants offer in terms of private dining

Massimo - Private Dining Room Massimo_private_dining_resized.jpgMassimo Restaurant & Oyster Bar

BEST FOR pescatarian feasts
The Corinthia hotel, between Trafalgar Square and Embankment, is finally open, with acclaimed chef Massimo Riccioli of Rome’s La Rosetta putting his name to one of its two restaurants. As you’ll have clocked from the name, seafood is the big draw, with Mediterranean-inspired dishes like grilled octopus and avocado with spicy Amalfi lemon oil dominating the menu. The main restaurant, designed by David Collins, can sit 100 (with an extra 40 in the oyster bar), but groups of up to 20 can take over the private dining room, which has its own dedicated kitchen for a full-on chef’s table experience.
Private Dining Room: 20 Exclusive Use: n/a Chef’s Table: 20 Corinthia Hotel, 16 Northumberland Avenue, WC2N 5BY, call 020 7998 0555 for group bookings


BEST FOR eating like a Sultan

It’s all change at celebrity favourite the May Fair Hotel, where the old restaurant, Amba, has been replaced with Silvena Rowe’s Quince. Chef-patron Rowe (don’t be deceived by the name; she comes from a Turkish family) is focusing on Eastern Mediterranean cuisine, but the food is several steps above the usual hummus and wraps. As well as the main restaurant there’s the separate Quince Salon, which can be hired for up to 60 guests to enjoy Rowe’s creations (we’ll be ordering Ottoman-spiced lamb cutlets, tahini and black truffle za’atar), and an eight-seat chef’s table. The 60-strong cocktail list is pretty exciting too.
Private Dining Rooms: 60 (Quince Salon)Exclusive Use: n/a Chef’s Table: 8 May Fair Hotel, Stratton Street W1J 8LT, call 020 7915 3892 for group bookings

The Gilbert Scott - Private dining room The_Private_Dining_room.jpgThe Gilbert Scott

BEST FOR architecture buffs
Marcus Wareing’s new restaurant in the St Pancras Renaissance hotel is the final element of the station’s redevelopment. The British brasserie, designed by David Collins and named after the architect who penned the iconic building back in 1866, majors on home-grown classics such as rabbit and prawn pie or the wonderfully named ‘tweed kettle’ (sea trout with herb, lemon and nutmeg crust). There are two options for private dining: the Chef’s Table can be booked for groups of up to 10 to enjoy three- or seven-course menus; the Private Room is available for up to 12 and lends itself well to pre-prandial meetings.
Private Dining Room: 12 Exclusive Use: 80 Chef’s Table: 10 St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, Euston Road, NW1 2AR, call 020 7278 3888 for group bookings

Geloupet - Private dining room Galoupet_2011_-_Galoupet_PDR7.jpg7.jpgGaloupet 

BEST FOR unashamed oenophiles
The finishing touches were being put to the new Beauchamp Place restaurant created by the owners of France’s Chateau de Galoupet vineyard as we went to press. Forget charcuterie and cheese – Galoupet will be all about seasonal menus matched to top-class wines. There’ll be a wide choice of tipples (36, to be precise) by the glass thanks to several enomatic machines, including London’s first one designed specifically for Champagne. There is also a wine store front-of-house. Cheers!
Private Dining Room: 8 Exclusive Use: 60 13 Beauchamp Place, SW3 1NQ, call 020 7036 3600 for group bookings

Boisdale of Canary Wharf

BEST FOR Braveheart-themed parties
Boisdale’s eastern outpost is a real find for organisers in Canary Wharf, thanks to a plethora of different spaces. There are four private dining rooms on the second floor, seating groups of between 12 and 40, pluse several other party options on the first floor, available to those who take exclusive hire of the entire venue (Sundays only). If you do, our tip is to spend the evening propping up the Whisky Bar, which holds the largest selection of Scotch in the country. As you’d expect of Boisdale, party menus, too, have a Scottish slant. We’d order the mini Macsween haggis with neeps, tatties and a noggin of Johnnie Walker Black Label.
Private Dining Rooms: 12, 12, 25, 40 Exclusive Use: 500  Cabot Place, Canary Wharf, E14 4QT, call 020 7715 5818 for group bookings

Bistro du Vin - Private Dining Room butchery_pdr_1resized.jpgBistro du Vin
BEST FOR carnivores
The first stand-alone restaurant by the Hotel du Vin chain is a welcome addition to Clerkenwell’s well-established meat scene (St John’s and Smiths of Smithfield are close neighbours). Thirty-five day aged steaks are cooked to perfection on the Josper grill, and can be paired with some truly great wines, as you’d expect from a du Vin. There are two options for private dining. Downstairs is the Whisky Snuggle, for up to 12. Rather more public is the Meat Cellar, where groups of up to eight can dine with views of the restaurant’s copious supplies of sausages and steaks.  A second Bistro du Vin is due to open in Soho this summer, which is great news for central London’s meat-lovers.
Private Dining Rooms: 8, 12 Exclusive Use: 65 40 St John Street, EC1 4AY, Call 020 7490 9230 for group bookings Pollen Street Social - Private dining room PDR_3.jpg

Pollen Street Social
BEST FOR learning from the master

Skegness boy and Gordon Ramsay protégé Jason Atherton’s first stand-alone restaurant opened in May, and the ex-Maze man is already garnering plaudits for dishes such as roasted halibut, Catalan paella, sprouting broccoli with pork-ham fat and mussel stock. The restaurant itself, designed by hip duo Neri&Hu, is (no surprise here) social, but downstairs there’s a 14-seat private dining room enclosed within the wine cellar, with views through to the development kitchen and meat-aging room. There is a variety of entertaining group packages on offer, including cookery classes with Jason himself and chef’s experiences, where you’ll get to assist the team. NB: Pollen Street Social also offers off-site catering.
Private Dining Rooms: 14  Exclusive Use: 60 seated, 30 standing (in bar) 8-10 Pollen Street, W1S 1NQ, call 020 7290 7604 for group bookings

Also consider

Chiswell Street Dining Rooms
56 Chiswell Street, EC1Y 4SA,
tel: 020 7614 0177
The latest venture from gastropub gurus Tom and Ed Martin has a PDR for 10

Pizza East Portobello
310 Portobello Road, W10 5TA,
tel: 020 8969 4500
Thought the Shoreditch PE was popular? Try scoring a table at Notting Hill’s hottest newcomer (max group size: 8)

Ristorante Semplice
9-10 Blenheim Street, W1S 1LJ,
tel: 020 7495 1509
The Michelin-starred Mayfair Italian has added a private dining room for 30

Riding House Café
34 Great Titchfield Street,
W1W 7PQ, tel: 020 7927 0840
Riding House Café’s 16-seater PDR was due to open as we went to press.

The World’s End
459 King’s Road, SW10 0LR,
tel: 020 3362 3362
The candle-lit basement here can seat
30 to dine, or up to 60 for cocktails

Zetter Town House
49-50 St John’s Square, EC1V 4JJ,
tel: 020 7324 4401
ZTH’s opulent PDR seats up to 14 – and there’s a 50in TV for presentations

This article first appeared in Square Meal Venues & Events, summer 2011