Quaglino’s re-opens today after a £3 million pound refurbishment and more than 85 years of service.
The modern European St James’s restaurant is owned by restaurant group D&D, and has a glamorous history of royal association.
Quaglino’s was opened in 1929 by Giovanni Quaglino and it quickly became a favourite haunt of royalty. In the 1950s a ‘royal enclosure’ was established to have a permanently reserved table for visiting royalty, and in 1956, Queen Elizabeth II dined at Quaglino’s, making it the first public restaurant that a reigning monarch had ever dined out in. Other regulars include the Duke of Windsor, Princess Margaret, the Duke and Duchess of Kent and Princess Alexandra.
A key feature of the relaunch is live music and a late licence, while a new cocktail bar has also been added.
The restaurant will feature DJs until 1am during the week and 3am at weekends.
‘We think that today people like to go out, have dinner, and also enjoy being entertained late into the evening,’ says D&D CEO Des Gunewardena, ‘also, ideas on interior design have evolved’. He continued: ‘I think that we have created a restaurant which will work really well for early evening drinks, for dinner and also for late night entertainment which will be a big feature of the venue.’
The restaurant’s iconic sweeping staircase and balcony bar have been carefully restored, and a stage for live music performances added along with a glamorous central cocktail bar. Furniture and colours have been chosen to reflect the time when Quaglino’s first launched.
Stars being lined up for performances on the stage include Marianne Faithfull, Eliza Doolittle, Alison Moyet, Sinéad O’Connor and Beverley Knight. Most shows will be free for diners, although some of the biggest names will be ticketed events.
A new menu will join the new look, described as ‘fusing traditional European classics with exotic flavours and spices from the extended continent’. Examples include Cheltenham beetroot with goat’s curd, winter leaves, walnuts and dried apricots; seared scallops in the shell with tomato, samphire and olive oil; and spiced Romney Marsh lamb shoulder, young spinach, apricot, almond, parsley and goat’s curd.
‘Quaglino's has a special place in London because it was one of, if not the restaurant which kick-started the explosive growth of high quality restaurants in London during the nineties,’ Gunewardena tells us. ‘We have served over two million customers and I know very few people in London who have never been there. There is a lot of affection for Quags and everybody seems to have their Quaglino’s story of an amazing dinner or wild night out.’