Ticking off every aesthetic trick in the book, Seabird on the 14th floor of The Hoxton hotel in Southwark manages to make you want to redecorate your entire home as soon as you step through the door.
A plush cushion-piled terrace offers up views across the Thames to the Houses of Parliament in one direction and The Shard in the other from the comfy sofas, while the clean white tables inside are topped with scallop-shell patterning that Ariel herself would covet.
As with other restaurants in The Hoxton folio, Seabird is filled with a chatty, trendy crowd that makes it feel very ‘of the moment’. Claiming the title of London’s longest oyster list, seafood is at the heart of the offering here, with special attention paid to a list of high-quality shellfish served from the raw bar.
If you prefer your fish to have been given a good grilling before it gets to you, fear not, the accomplished kitchen team (which is headed up by the people behind New York’s Maison Premiere restaurant) know their stuff when it comes to cooked seafood too.
The plates of Portuguese- and Spanish-accented food often come with a fun and frivolous twist. Octopus, for instance, is chargrilled and packed into a brioche hotdog bun before being topped with padron peppers and sobrasada aioli, while crab croquettes are sweet and salty with every bite and come accompanied by generous quantities of addictive garlic mayo (leftovers of which are perfect for dunking a side of chips).
Larger plates feature whole grilled fish with homemade peri peri sauce and high-end cuts of meat, including Iberico pork served with the flavours of apple for a nostalgic nod to traditional British fare.
Service was friendly and enthusiastic when we visited in the restaurant’s early days, and the keen staff made solid suggestions for drinks to try from the a list which shuns household names in an effort to champion smaller brands.
A meal here doesn’t come cheap, but for a celebration with serious style you can’t beat the location and look of this impressive newcomer, and the food’s not half bad either.