Our pick of the best new places for group dining and private events
A celebrated chef from Mexico City brings bold colour and flavour to Mayfair
The InterContinental has undergone a culinary transformation. Theo Randall celebrated a decade at the hotel with a refurb in 2016, serving up a renewed Italian menu in slick surroundings. Now Martha Ortiz of Mexico City’s acclaimed Dulce Patria has created a sleek counterpart at the other end of the hotel. The three-part interior is colourful yet smart: blue, red and pink walls splashed with gold accents, marble-mosaic tables, cacti aplenty and 50 types of mescal and tequila at the bar. We begin with guacamole topped with a gold-painted grasshopper and a Mexican old fashioned. What follows is bold: ceviche vampiro (seabass with sangrita sorbet); fillet of beef with black chichilo and aubergine ashes; and soft-shell crab with pineapple purée, served with tortillas (this might be Mayfair, but eating with your hands in this instance is very much encouraged). This is an authentic Mexican experience presented in striking surroundings. Martha has definitely made her mark.
58, 36, 24, 14
One Hamilton Place, Park Lane, W1J 7QY | 020 7318 8715
Michel Roux Jr’s the man behind the menus at this little ‘pub’ in The Langham, London
‘Don’t go on a Friday, you’ll never get a seat.’ ‘Even at lunchtime?’ ‘Especially at lunchtime.’ ‘But it’s a pub!’ Ah, but not just any pub: The Wigmore’s consultant chef is Michel Roux Jr. Full of gin-palace swagger, this well-heeled watering hole has double-height sage-green walls, brass bankers lamps and oxblood-leather seats. But never mind that, it’s the masala-spiced scotch eggs that everyone’s talking about. Those and the death-by-butter chicken-and-leek pies. Top grub. The other good news is there’ll be no queuing for groups: hireable space the Green Room is a handsome private spot that comes with its own bar and AV kit. If yours is a ‘quiet cocktails’ kind of affair, ask about The Snug for mohair sofas, silk cushions and loose rug vibes.
15 Langham Place, W1B 3DE | 020 7965 0198
The super-slick Asian restaurant within the new Four Seasons Hotel spans sushi to dim sum
Chinese and Japanese staples share menu space at this luxe addition to the splendid Four Seasons Hotel, close to Tower Hill station. The dish with which Mei Ume hopes to build its reputation is a whole peking duck, brought tableside before it’s sliced and served with pancakes, cucumber and leek, then shredded into a salad with a lemongrass and plum dressing. There’s theatre throughout the softly lit, high-ceilinged main space, which is bookended by a pair of embroidered silk screens – one Chinese, one Japanese. In a corner, shrouded in bamboo screen panels of its own, the semi-private dining room is a fine place to take it all in.
60 Semi-private dining
10 Trinity Square, EC3N 4AJ | 020 3297 3799
FLESH AND BUNS
Japanese drinking food from the team behind Bone Daddies and Shackfuyu
Flesh & Buns in Seven Dials has been given a refurb, and event bookers should be happy with the latest additions. Groups of 10 can now dine at the larger bar, while ‘noren’ screen curtains give booths a semi-private dining feel. We’d suggest ordering the new Party Flesh menu – groups of six or more will dine on roast suckling pig, beef ribs and braised lamb shoulder with kimchi, pickles and sauces.
41 Earlham Street, WC2H 9LX | 020 7632 9500
The D&D London jewel gets a new lease of life
Launceston Place lost its Michelin star after head chef Tim Allen moved on in 2015. But the restaurant needn’t be dismayed. In its recent recruitment of Ben Murphy (ex-The Woodford), that star looks within grasp again. The transformation begins with the surroundings: a refurbishment has made the warren-like space much brighter, and art supplied by a local gallery adds character. The full experience demands the tasting menu, so we recommend booking in for a leisurely business lunch, perhaps in the 12-seat Chef’s Office. Of the nine pretty courses, our favourites include an umami-laden octopus with chorizo and chicken wing, followed by presa iberica with crackling, aubergine and ponzu; a playful twist on a Solero ends the meal on a high. Service here is slick, and the paired wines are bang on.
12 Semi-private dining
1a Launceston Place, W8 5RL | 020 7716 7887
Gonzalo Luzarraga brings Piedmont to Parsons Green at this Italian fine diner
Northern Italian cuisine in suburban SW6? We admire the ambition. From front to back, there’s a clean-cut main space, a yellow space that can be sectioned off for private dining, and a walled garden for up to six. Co-founder Gonzalo Luzarraga has worked around the world under chefs including Alain Ducasse. His tasting menu opens with slivers of crispy tripe with salmon roe and culminates in porcini brûlés (chestnut cream, caramelised popcorn, black sesame). Allow time to enjoy it in full.
32 Private dining
77 New King’s Road, SW6 4RD | 020 7751 3293
Feasting-style group dining is the thing at the second Peruvian-cum-Japanese-cum-Chinese restaurant
Anywhere that serves a decent pisco sour is a box-ticker for us – and judging by the popularity of Señor Ceviche’s Carnaby Street operation, the rest of London agrees. It’s no wonder, then, that founder Harry Edmeades has opened a second site, on Charlotte Street. Groups can dine exclusively or privately from the Inca Feast, Barranco Banquet and Vegetarian & Vegan feast menus. On our visit, it was the mushroom and sweet-potato gyoza, papaya-marinated flat iron steak and the seabass and octopus ceviche with tiger’s milk that really shone. Don’t miss the delicious dulce de leche crème brûlées.
60 Private dining
18 Charlotte Street, W1T 2LZ | 020 7842 8540
This wine bar’s first-floor private dining room offers a new perspective on Borough Market
Named after a Victorian greengrocer who operated from the same site, Arthur Hooper’s has a menu of European small plates that let the ingredients – many from the Borough traders on its doorstep – shine. Dishes change regularly, so you’ll need to move fast for the Gower clams, ’nduja and courgettes, or a burrata, samphire and almond salad that sang with flavour. Above the seductively monochrome main space, there’s a private room with some fine market views. You can order sharing plates – including selections of cured meats and cheeses – up there too.
50 Private dining
8 Stoney Street, SE1 9AA | 020 7940 0169
The 1930s, Grade II-listed ticket office of Peckham Rye station is well worth the schlep
Head chef Sam Bryant knows what he’s doing with a goat: the cut of shoulder we devoured on our visit was smoked to sublimity. No doubt his time at Smokehouse honed his skills, but it’s the onsite butchery that gives Coal Rooms the edge. When it’s not used for carving meat in the day, it’s a 14-seater PDR by night, resplendent with a vaulted ceiling and Victorian mosaic floor. Sharing platters of robata-grilled, coal oven-smoked meat would go down well here, but it’s the small plates we were most enchanted by. Ingredients such as miso bagna cauda (fondue, basically), Peckham sake, oatmeal and furikake (Japanese seasoning) bring cauliflower, roast potatoes and pork crackling to life. Dish of the day had to be the apple and cheddar pie with cinnamon-toast ice-cream. Best dessert in London, anyone?
Private dining 14
11a Station Way, Peckham, SE15 4RX | 020 7635 6699