Our pick of the best new spots for group dining and private events
Edited by Heather Steele
Simon Rogan’s new development kitchen is a super-exclusive spot for private dinners
In a secret location behind frosted glass, the chef behind L’Enclume
has opened the capital’s smallest restaurant. At just eight seats, when hired whole it also works excellently as a private room for top-level clients. The premise? By day, it’s a culinary workshop for Rogan’s brigade to test out new dishes. By night, it becomes a kitchen-table experience with a 15-course tasting menu and paired wines. Rafael Cagali (ex-The Fat Duck
and Fera at Claridge’s
) heads up the team. We loved watching him work – with precision and talent obviously, but also a willingness to have a bit of fun. Highlights included seaweed custard topped with caviar, and a sizeable piece of monkfish served with Jerusalem artichoke and leek. It’s not cheap (prices start at £250pp or £2,000 for exclusive use) but it’s not just dinner you’re paying for, it’s also quite the show.
Address revealed upon booking | 020 3948 9665
Exclusive use 8
The ICA’s in-house restaurant gets an artful overhaul
You’d expect an art gallery diner that’s just been relaunched by a Shoreditch restaurant to have been restyled within an inch of its life. Happily, Margot Henderson and Melanie Arnold of Rochelle Canteen
decided to enhance the bare-bones aesthetic of the ICA
’s modernist café rather than transforming it into a glossy, identikit eatery. Simple but sleek furniture by Alvar Aalto has replaced functional ghost chairs, while an array of plants adds splashes of green to an otherwise white backdrop. Instead, it’s the charming service and faultless food that does the talking. A changing menu comprises classic British dishes made extremely well: hits from our lunch include smoked cod’s roe with crackling, Old Spot with sauerkraut, and an unforgettable pheasant and bacon pie. Those with meetings and parties in mind should look to the gallery’s 18th-century Nash and Brandon private rooms – the Canteen crew also caters for all in-house events.
12 Carlton House Terrace, SW1Y | 020 7930 0493
Private dining 50, 84
The Scottish chef’s new flagship is a feast for the eyes
Presentation is king at Handling’s second restaurant. Each dish on our five-course tasting menu came with a dash of theatre, from razor clams with hazelnut and apples on a bed of pebbles and dry ice, to the minimalist courgette, basil garlic and goat’s curd. It’s not just the food that’s pretty though: Offbeat Interiors has created a striking (if slightly self-indulgent) Adam and Eve aesthetic, complete with branches, apples and biblical references. Downstairs you’ll find the private dining room, which comes with its own open kitchen and is lined with portraits of the restaurant’s staff. Top tip: don’t forget to order the cheese and truffle doughnuts or the famous chicken-skin butter and sourdough.
34-35 Southampton Street, WC2E | 020 7199 8370
Private dining 20
After 16 years at Le Gavroche, Monica Galetti has opened a place of her own
Perhaps best known as the platinum-haired powerhouse on MasterChef: The Professionals
, Monica Galetti was a formidable, but fair foil to her former boss Michel Roux Jr when she joined the show in 2009. The Samoa-born New Zealander started working at Michelin-starred Le Gavroche
in 1998. Now, she’s branched out to launch her own spot in Fitzrovia alongside her husband, sommelier David. The result is a blend of classic French and South Pacific influences – and it works a treat. A contemporary dining room smattered with traditional Samoan art sets the scene for prettily-plated dishes that pack a punch: picture black-curried scallops, followed by grilled lobster with peanut, coconut, ginger and chilli. We’re not in modern European territory here, but we still recommend throwing a pasta course into the mix – the corzetti with chicken oysters and wild mushrooms delivers a real hit of flavour. Groups of up to 10 should book the smart private room, where a presentation screen doubles-up as a way of watching Galetti and her team at work.
74 Charlotte Street, W1T | 020 7268 6565
Private dining 10
Neo-West African cuisine in box-fresh St James’s Market
From the outside, it doesn’t look like much: a glass wall with views into a small, sienna-hued space. Get inside, though, and things improve: sunset lighting, subtle African furnishings (including the pottery cup our plantain old fashioned arrived in) and plenty of pale wood combine to immerse you in a stylish single room. Considered aesthetics continue to the plate, particularly with the buttermilk plantain slices with their vivid smoked scotch bonnet powdering. The starter of slow-steamed octopus with groundnut and peas was the highlight – or maybe it was the fatty iberico pork slice with its vibrant Nigerian spice mix? There’s no private room but that doesn’t matter when you can take the place whole any day of the week.
1 St James's Market, SW1Y | 020 3583 4660
Exclusive use 42
A Brighton favourite fires up its grill next to Tower Bridge
The original Coal Shed found success on the south coast as a new-wave steakhouse. Tucked in the glassy One Tower Bridge development, this new London restaurant combines the prime cuts of its namesake with the best from a third sister: the plaudit-laden, fish-first Salt Room. Beyond the floor-to-ceiling windows, it’s a sleek tavern, with deep brown walls and green leather banquettes that add up to a masculine take on cosy. Upstairs can be configured various ways for groups, who can share from the cuts of the day written up on blackboards, or take on whole monkfish and seabass. Hang back just a bit, though, because the puddings are exceptional. In the end, we had to pull rank on our guest and strip them of their custard tart with pumpkin, nutmeg and creme fraiche.
One Tower Bridge, SE1 | 020 3384 7272
Exclusive use 100 Private dining 14, 46
A new PDR in the City is going great guns
We were happy to hear that Mac & Wild Devonshire Square had added a private dining room to its City site, and even more so to learn that it would be styled as a Highland lodge. But what really makes the place stand out is its alter ego as The Gun Room. Here, teams can dress up in tweed and sup on drams before practicing their shot on a virtual shooting system. Our visit proved decadent – we tucked into beef chateaubriand, rich béarnaise sauce, some truly dirty truffle mac and cheese, and roasted bone marrow with bacon breadcrumbs (before drinking a shot of Talisker 10 down the bone). One thing’s certain: this is food that will make (non-veggie) guests warm and happy.
9a Devonshire Square, EC2M | 020 7637 0510
Private dining 22
Liberty London’s new dining room is as pretty as its famous prints
The opening of Arthur’s marks the end of the famous department store’s year-long renovation. On our visit, the art-deco interiors had us swooning: picture marble tables, midnight-blue velvet banquette seating, pastel pink stools at the bar and pendant lighting. It’s all very polished. A partnership between Liberty and Levy UK, the menu makes use of ingredients from the Mini British Food Hall downstairs. A sumac chicken salad with grilled gem, capers and anchovies had just the right amount of spice, but could have done with a bit more of the almond tahini yoghurt. However, Arthur’s Famous Carrot Cake deserves its reputation – it’s one of the best we’ve ever had.
Liberty London, W1B | 020 7734 1234
Exclusive use 110
High-end Japanese tapas for minimalist fans in Mayfair
Having eaten Taiji Maruyama’s food (ex-Nobu) at the Beaverbrook hotel in Surrey a week before, the bar for serious Japanese dining was high. But while the change of decor – period opulence to piny minimalism – was stark, the quality of the offering was not. Head chef Osamu Mizuno (also ex-Nobu and Sake no Hana
) turns out artful, millimetre-accurate creations at a relatively reasonable price (this is Mayfair). Though we’re sure the ‘tapas’ label is a nonsense, the food is serious: fresh tofu with yuzu chilli was a cold-plate champ, while the ox tongue tacos stood up strong to other Latin-Japanese eating around town. Guests can dine downstairs at the bar where the man in charge turns out cocktails using exotic Japanese liqueurs. The problem with such a sparsely designed room is that you can feel exposed when it’s quiet. To avoid that from happening, hire the diminutive space exclusively.
4 Blenheim St, W1S | 020 7165 9506
Exclusive use 27
LA FROMAGERIE BLOOMSBURY
The London cheesemonger’s third site is hot stuff
Walking up Lamb’s Conduit Street on a cold autumn night, the glow from La Fromagerie’s cosy new place makes it appear right at home. Occupying a corner spot opposite Noble Rot
(a restaurant is sells its wares to) the independent nature of this street suits La Fromagerie’s boutique vibe. After drooling past counters piled high with cheese and delicacies, groups can settle into the downstairs Tasting Room, a dimly-lit space that takes on the guise of a wine cellar. We suggest kicking things off with a glass of crémant before arming your guests with skewers of charcuterie, potatoes and cornichons to plunge into pots of the restaurant’s signature fondue. Made with comté, emmental and beaufort, this is a seriously decadent dish, as is the melt-in-the-middle chocolate fondant. Yes, this place is all about molten goodness, but that’s exactly what makes it one of our favourite new spots for the season.
52 Lamb's Conduit Street, WC1N | 020 7242 1044
Private dining 40
On-trend ‘Best of British’ near Tower Hill
The Apex Hotel City’s new swish and sizeable mezzanine dining space is said to be channelling 17th-century gourmand/cad/politician Samuel Pepys with its ‘Best of British’ menu. While some might call the link a little tenuous, there are small nods to the past on the menu that make it playful enough for a little natter while choosing. But it doesn’t really matter whether this place is or is not ‘truly unique’. What this zeitgeisty (blue plates, leather banquettes) spot behind the new Four Seasons does is provide a number of smart private dining options (including a large terrace) and a familiar-looking menu – one that’s dotted with trendy (but safe) dishes amid well-turned British classics. The signature Lampery 'Pye' (beef and prune) received positive nods round the table, but those with an appetite the size of Pepys’s will want to upscale to the foie gras-wrapped wellington.
1 Seething Lane, EC3N | 020 7977 9500
Exclusive use 88 Private dining 24, 60
BEST OF THE REST
Cocktails, interiors, menus – they’ve shaken everything up at W London’s first-floor bar-lounge (020 7758 1060). In snazzy new West End surrounds, Magnus Reid (Legs, Cream) is adding east London edge to Mediterranean small plates like burrata, chilli jam and fried garlic. Best look sharp – Magnus steps aside in the new year to give someone else a shot in the kitchen.
With three private hire options, easy to share tapas dishes, and premium gins for Spanish serves, Camino Shoreditch (020 3948 5003) is perfectly placed to throw a party. Inside there’s a relaxed vibe and the walls are decked out with blue and white tiling, maps of Spain and on-theme posters. It feels a bit like a traditional taberna, but with a glossy lick of paint. The food is decent: our top picks include serrano ham croquettes and a mackerel escabeche.
To say that the newest outpost of Vinoteca (020 3544 7406) is buzzing is an understatement. On our trip to the newly opened Bloomberg Arcade, not only was the restaurant full, but the 42-seat private room on the mezzanine was also in full swing. Like the original, this spot focuses on food and drink inspired by Spain and Italy. We reckon a pre-dinner wine tasting (from £15pp) would be fitting before either the chef’s or the daily menu. Don’t miss the braised beef cheeks with cream potatoes – definitely one for sharing.