Our pick of the season’s best new destinations for group dining and private events
Edited by: Heather Steele
Francesco Mazzei brings a dash of Calabrese flair to the refurbished Savile Row restaurant
, a suitably style-conscious neighbour to the bespoke tailors of Savile Row, brings a little slice of Italy to this most English of streets. Following an extensive refurb, the D&D London
restaurant reopened its doors in late 2015, welcoming ex-L’Anima chef Francesco Mazzei as chef-patron. He brings with him modern food with a focus on dishes from his home region, Calabria: think home-cured cod marinated in liquorice and tortellini with burrata, ’nduja and balsamic vinegar. The revamp has also seen the addition of a bar and cicchetti counter, two sleek private dining rooms, and a 250-bin wine cellar. The last of those is our favourite spot – and the place where charming sommelier Michael Simms hosts intimate dinners and wine tastings for up to six guests.
Private dining: 6, 25, 25, 50 | Exclusive use: 136
20 Savile Row, W1S 3PR | 020 7716 7887
M VICTORIA STREET
Martin Williams opens M restaurant number two in resurgent Victoria, promising private dining options galore
When was the last time you booked in Victoria? M’s second branch
marks the first of an impressive list of openings earmarked for the area in the next 12 months. As with the City original
, guests choose between two dining options before sitting down: M Raw, which serves Japanese and Peruvian small plates; or M Grill, the steak lover’s route. Vibe-wise, there’s more than a passing resemblance to the City original – roomy, design-led spaces and low-level, clubby muzak – but this branch offers even more private dining choices than the original. For gourmands, there’s the option of a handsome tasting menu covering land and sea, while the mezzanine wine shop hosts group tasting sessions.
Private dining rooms: 16, 20, 30, 120 | Exclusive use: 120
70 Victoria Street, SW1E 6SQ | 020 3327 7776
Taking its name from Virginia Woolf’s famous novel, this Bloomsbury beauty offers alfresco fine dining at its most classy
Climbing plants, rattan chairs and candles in lanterns make the latest addition
to The Bloomsbury Hotel
a really inviting inside-outside destination. With a retractable roof, the space goes properly alfresco in warmer weather, while heaters are on hand for less balmy nights. Under a striped black-and-white canopy, the team serves British artisanal cuisine, backed by a 50-strong wine list, to groups of up to 40. We enjoyed a delicious Balmoral Estate venison carpaccio, while our mains of seared scallops and lemon sole were simple dishes executed with aplomb.
Semi-private dining: 40
16-22 Great Russell Street, WC1B 3NN | 020 7347 1221
UPSTAIRS AT TRINITY
The new casual dining space at Adam Byatt’s Trinity works a treat for lively private dinners
There seemed something odd about walking through a formal dining room – all linen and abstract art – to then be ushered up to a small, noisy space with an open kitchen. Odd, but fun: like being privy to a secret eating den – a place cool enough to hire for a fun private event. Clapham Old Town’s Trinity
restaurant recently extended its refurb to turn this previously unused area into a space for communal tables and small-plate dining. The menu, which changes daily, couldn’t have been more straightforward: 12 beautifully turned dishes that are ambitious and full of Mediterranean flavours.
Private dining: 32
4 The Polygon, SW4 0JG | 020 3745 7227
THE IVY KENSINGTON BRASSERIE
The Covent Garden institution adds another branch that’s already doing it proud
Kensington is a natural location for Caprice Holdings
’s newest outpost of The Ivy
. Starting with The Ivy Market Grill
in Covent Garden late in 2014, four Ivy-branded restaurants have now sprung up. The tried-and-tested formula works well here
: art deco-style touches of pewter and tiles matched with dark leather banquettes; and a menu focused on classic British dishes done well. There’s an air of exclusivity about the place and, while there’s no PDR, there is a stylish semi-private mezzanine where guests can soak up the atmosphere against a backdrop of mirrored walls and eclectic period paintings. While you’re there, you could ask about the Market Grill now rumoured to be opening in Tower Bridge.
Semi-private dining: 10
96 Kensington High Street, W8 4SG | 020 3301 0500
TING BY SHANGRI-LA AT THE SHARD
The tallest building in town opens a Chef’s Market Table at its highest restaurant
On Level 35 of the Shard, Ting
mixes oriental touches with European ingredients. And, marking the arrival of exec chef Gareth Bowen, it now has the Chef’s Market Table. Groups of eight dine at a curved counter, one side looking over the skyline and the other at the open kitchen. Four-course menus use ingredients bought at Borough Market on the day. We enjoyed Dorset crab with a refreshing cucumber consommé; then red mullet with fregola sarda, fennel purée and a punchy chicken sauce. Each course is expertly matched with wines from around the globe and the views, naturally, are as good as they come.
Semi-private dining: 8
31 St Thomas Street, SE1 9QU | 020 7234 8108
THEO RANDALL AT THE INTERCONTINENTAL
The much-admired Italian celebrates its tenth birthday with a five-star makeover
After the launch of Theo’s Simple Italian in Kensington, Theo Randall has turned his attention back to the environs of the InterContinental Park Lane
. Ten years on from its inception, the restaurant’s had a makeover, opting for olive and grey tones with marble touches. There’s been a menu update too, adding dishes such as spaghetti with brown shrimps, artichoke, chilli and butter, and baked cheese soufflé. The existing PDR has been given a contemporary look, plus an additional 40-seat space that connects via a sliding door. The revamp has also seen the installation of a kitchen table for eight, and a sommelier’s table in the bar.
Private dining: 25, 40 | Semi-private: 8, 8, 55 | Exclusive use: 180
1 Hamilton Place, W1J 7QY | 020 7318 8747
THE BREAKFAST CLUB
We put Chutney Mary’s new early-morning offering to the test
We arrive at the St James’s restaurant bleary eyed (well, some of us anyway), so we’re pleased to be greeted by the maÎtre d’ and an offer of coffee. Nice. Next, we’re about to find out what an Indian take on an English breakfast tastes like.
The editorial team assembles around the boardroom table in the 16-seat Crystal Room, pens poised and to-do lists ready. As we plot the forthcoming summer magazine, attentive staff keep our coffee cups topped up and plates piled high with a trio of its different breakfast options.
Dishes include akoori on toast (the spice-packed Indian version of scrambled eggs), as well as a masala egg-white omelette – light, with a nice kick of spice – and a classic savoury dosa pancake. The restaurant also offers granola and yoghurt, and a traditional English breakfast of sausages, eggs and bacon for less adventurous diners.
Private dining: 16, 32
73 St James’s Street, SW1A 1PH | 020 7629 6688
A bohemian setup makes for an atmospheric setting in south London’s coolest borough
Just across the river from the City, this
private-dining venue feels a world away from the all-over corporatism on the other side of the Thames. In a lively part of Bermondsey, amid the eclectic 20th-century paraphernalia of architectural salvage company Lassco, the ambience is more free-spirited dinner party than board meeting – and all the better for it. The Barge Bar serves à la mode cocktails, but – wait for it – there’s no on-site kitchen. Instead, groups can call on the Disappearing Dining Club, experienced hands at delivering flavoursome fare in unusual locations. Food such as pork belly with chorizo and anchovy boulangère can be taken in the Textiles Room or the larger Eisenhower Room: both are fine options for memorable lunches and dinners.
Private dining: 12, 40
1 Maltby Street, SE1 3PA | 020 3793 0202
1 LOMBARD STREET
City institution 1 Lombard Street
has reopened its private dining room after an extensive refurb. Now called The Botanical Room, the 40-seat space features plenty of natural light, vintage details, a private bar and lots of plant prints
SWAN, SHAKESPEARE'S GLOBE
The Bankside restaurant is treated to a refresh as The Globe celebrates the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death
Walk into the bar at the Swan
and you’re immediately hit with the lively vibes you’d expect from a venue annexed to Shakespeare’s Globe. Head upstairs, though, and you’ll find a newly refurbished restaurant offering a serene space for all-day dining. Elegant design and views of St Paul’s (through attractive mullioned windows) add to the atmosphere. The Bull Room separates groups from other diners with a stylish glass and copper screen. Ten people can dine à la carte – bigger groups are on the set menu – with food that promotes freshness, seasonality and, unsurprisingly, a goodly amount of Britishness.
Private dining: 12, 14, 40, 70
21 New Globe Walk, SE1 9DT | 020 7928 9444
One of last year’s most popular pop-ups bags a permanent site in Soho
Originally a pop-up from the team behind ramen joint Bone Daddies, Shackfuyu
became a permanent restaurant last year. Having served up one of 2015’s most Instagrammed desserts, it’s been the talk of the town for next-generation foodies. And now there’s a 16-seat private room and bar downstairs. We recommend ordering the tasting menu: guests can sample seven of the best dishes with a paired flight of sake.
Private dining: 16
14 Old Compton Street, W1D 4TJ | 020 7734 7492
A Hackney haunt made for supper clubs
Channelling the feel of an antiquated Italian eatery, this deli, restaurant and wine bar now caters for events. In a railway arch near Broadway Market, Il Cudega
celebrates Milanese delicacies via its popular supper clubs, which can be taken over by groups. Goat prosciutto and melt-in-the-mouth beef featherblade both stick in our minds – that and the team’s warm hospitality. Exclusive daytime use is also available, while a new catering service supplies external events.
Private dining: 30, 60
Arch 358 Westgate Street, E8 3RN | 07557 913119
BEST OF THE REST
Matt Robinson is at the helm of Dickie Fitz
(020 3667 1445) in Fitzrovia, the latest venture from the Affinity Restaurant & Bar Group. Yellow banquettes offset marble tabletops on the ground floor, while the upstairs space, which seats up to 45 diners, is more laid back. The menu is varied but standout dishes include cauliflower, pine nut and raisin-stuffed gyoza – which went down a treat.
Gordon Ramsay’s York & Albany
(020 7592 1373) in Camden has a new wine bar. It feels like a rustic kitchen in a cosy Tuscan villa, with low lighting and a cobbled floor. Exclusive hire is available for 20 guests, while food takes the form of small plates – the calamari and truffle arancini were our favourites. Group packages start at £20pp and masterclassses can be arranged.
With more private members clubs opening their restaurants to non-members, London Capital Club is right on trend with Tavern at 15 (020 7717 0088). The basement space – headed by ex-Royal Albert Hall head chef Jean-Didier Gouges – echoes the exclusive tone of the club upstairs without the pomp. Stone bass carpaccio is presented prettily, while lobster burgers and grilled shrimp will sate the ravenous. Groups of 65 can dine exclusively.
The Galvin brothers have gone from grape to grain, turning Café à Vin into Galvin HOP
(020 7299 0404), a ‘pub deluxe’ that feels more like a bistro with a bar to us. Slip through to the back and you’ll find a quiet space with its own sheltered terrace for hire. On the same Spitalfields site, the brothers’ La Chapelle restaurant is still the place for smarter occasions – an internal door links the two spaces.
Italian chain Obicà
(020 7248 3776) has a fifth London restaurant, which is also its new City flagship. Close to Ludgate Circus, the design is business-casual: a monochrome palette, with lots of bare wood. A menu of modern Mediterranean crowd-pleasers showcases top-quality mozzarella flown in from source twice a week. There’s a 20-seat semi-private dining room for groups.
Five-floor House of Ho
(020 7323 9130) on Percy Street is a must for bookers searching for a smart, townhouse feel paired with interesting food. Our favourite of the six private spaces is the six-seat Wine Room, with green leather seating and a wall lined with fine wines. Chef-director Ian Pengelley has devised an intriguing Vietnamese menu. The star of the show? An entire soft-shell crab, brought to the table in a cloud of liquid nitrogen. Dramatic.
This article was first published in Squaremeal Venues + Events, Spring 2016