We pick some of our favourite openings from the end of 2017
Edited by Heather Steele
Leandro Carreira serves up Portuguese-style small plates in sparse surroundings
Port and tonic. Vinho verde. Both libations were a staple across London drinks menus in 2017. Now both can be sipped plentifully in Londrino, a starkly designed neighbourhood restaurant minutes away from London Bridge. Formerly seen rattling the pans at Viajante, Koya and Lyle’s, this is Portuguese chef Carrieira’s first solo venture. While the menu isn’t strictly Portuguese, there’s a real focus on seafood: clams bulhão pato (cooked with garlic, lemon and coriander) is served with sourdough for fighting over the moreish cooking liquor. This is swiftly followed, among others, with our highlight dish of whole mackerel with savoy cabbage and smoked seaweed butter. These dishes and more can be served for groups in a gracefully bare semi-private space that looks towards the open kitchen. Make sure to leave space for pud: each of the three homemade ice creams pack a hit of flavour (our favourites are whey and smoked honey, followed by caraway seed).
36 Snowsfields, SE1 | 020 3911 4949
Granary Square Brasserie
Fashionable, fun but still smart enough to impress your collar-wearing clients
Prime restaurant real estate such as you will find on Granary Square was always going to be snapped up by one of the big boys – 1920s-loving Ivy Collection came out on top. Blazer-smart staff smoothly ushered us through a room busy with retro-modern interiors. Bare brick walls contrast, à la hipster, with studded leather and velvet seats, the walls are replete with up-to-the minute vintage botanical prints and background house music gives the place a ‘let’s go out after dinner’ vibe. True to form, the menu is a balanced modern-British affair that delivers safe dishes to most tastes. The steak tartare arrived immaculately presented. As is the Ivy Collection’s style, the semi-private dining room is the prettiest corner of the venue. Exotic plant-print chairs and deco-style chandeliers will imbue dinners with laid-back glam. The young – and people who wish they still were – will dig it.
1-3 Stable St, N1C | 020 3940 1000
This lauded Hong Kong export is now serving its high-end Cantonese cuisine in London Bridge
Housed in St Thomas’ Church with interiors revamped by Michaelis Boyd (that of Soho Farmhouse and Soho House Berlin), Duddell’s makes an impressive setting for a private dinner. Large groups can take over the mezzanine level, meaning you don’t have to sacrifice atmosphere for privacy, and exclusive hire is an option. We also like the curved leather booths for smaller client dinners. As for the food, it’s slick and sophisticated Cantonese cooking. The original in Hong Kong holds a Michelin star which bodes well for the future here, although we’re of the opinion that the food isn’t quite up to that standard yet. Highlights include the group-friendly Peking duck – which you may have seen all over Instagram late last year – and is carved tableside before being served two ways.
9a St Thomas St, SE1 | 020 3957 9932
The Coach Makers Arms
The fifth Cubitt House outpost does ‘olde world pub’ with aplomb
We’re becoming accustomed to heading Marylebone-way to try a new restaurant. The Coach Maker’s Arms recently joined the flurry of openings and it comes with a charming private dining space – portraits of coach makers gone by adorn the walls of this restored pub’s first floor dining room. This is where groups of up to 48 can dine on classic British fare. The favourite on our visit was the melting slow-cooked Hebredian lamb, with pickled cauliflower and spiced yoghurt – luckily, it features on both of the group set menus (£39pp and £46pp). Pop downstairs to The 72 – the first cocktail bar in the portfolio – for digestifs in dark surrounds.
88 Marylebone Lane, W1U | 020 7224 4022
This south west London newcomer mixes fine dining with spirited Italian fun
With its clean lines, white table cloths and contemporary art, Stecca could be mistaken for a quiet Chelsea hangout. As our first course arrives, however, it’s clear it’s anything but. Chef Stefano – who, on our visit meets guests at the door with back-slapping and handshakes – draws a crowd that gives the space a lively atmosphere more in line with his Emilia Romagna roots. Downstairs is where large groups can escape the main space, while still in earshot of the revelry and with the convenience of a private bar. Of the extensive menu, we were seduced by beef tartare with black truffle, lobster taglioni and duck ragu pappardelle. And make sure your group brings their livers with them – magnums of rosé are encouraged.
14 Hollywood Rd, SW10 | 020 7460 2322
Harry’s Dolce Vita
Caprice Holdings’ newest spot brings further elegance to Knightsbridge
Regular readers might be pleased to learn that the group behind Scott’s and J. Sheekey’s hasn’t chosen another offshoot of its growing Ivy empire to grace a prime piece of real estate 10 paces from Harrods. Instead, it’s channelling 1950s Italy with the launch of a standalone spot. Harry’s Dolce Vita might have all the trademarks of a classic Caprice restaurant but there’s something distinctively new here. One such novelty is its ‘Infinite’ negroni, where three rolls of a dice will determine the mix of gin, vermouth and bitters. Starters of carpaccio and tuna tonnato hint at solid cookery in the kitchen, while veal parmesan and linguine vongole continue the theme. Yet the real skill is in the pastry section: we ordered Harry’s Toadstool, a deftly sculpted mass of white chocolate, raspberries and pistachio – and predict an Instagram hit. We also foresee that come summer, the 46-seat terrace will be the place for groups to see and be seen.
27-31 Basil Street, SW3 | 020 3940 1020
Wright Brothers Battersea
The fifth of the famous bros’ restaurants gives bookers another big name draw in London’s new food quarter
If you’re familiar with the sibling-run franchise, you’ll know that Wright Brothers is one of London’s seafood go tos. If you don’t, no fear: it’s hard to miss the duo’s latest opening that flanks Battersea Power Station. We arrived by Thames Clipper – a nice touch and the chosen ‘venue’ for a lively group’s Christmas party drinking – and headed straight for a look at The Coal Room. The restaurant’s elegant PDR sits proudly in the middle of the main space with dividing, sliding panel doors creating a restaurant-within-a-restaurant feel. The style of food suits the shared group set menu concept well – we loved the seabass ceviche and beef tataki, but imagine your guests will find tucking into the full house platter (oysters, whelks, mussels, prawns, razor clams and dressed crab) a particular treat.
26 Circus West Village, SW8 | 020 7324 7734
Provenance is king at this West London Italian food and wine ‘experience’
As the name suggests, Italian wines are a primary concern at this Ken High newbie. Much of the wall space is covered in a cross-cross of terracotta shelves holding quality reds. Claudio Gelmini, part owner and front-of-house personality, was quick to impart his savvy, starting us off with A-grade salumi pared with a zippy Puglian primitivo. The space, a listed former bank, is lofty and grand with its pillars, coffered ceilings and mosaic floors still in place. The decor, though, is unmistakably Italian, but in a pared-back urban way – a red and black palate, tolix chairs and communal tables. While this combination takes a little getting used to, it does feel entirely suitable for corporate affairs. A semi-private space behind the bar is where we saw a suited group enjoy a few bottles before sitting down around a long bare-wood table for rounds of well-executed pasta and slow-cooked meats. Discerning Italophiles will be satisfied by the menu, though the service isn’t quick. Ergo, we suggest dinner not lunch.
276-280 Kensington High St, W8 | 07384 595191
Not quite found what you’re looking for? Have a look at some more restaurants with private dining rooms