Our pick of the season’s best new restaurants for group dining and private events
Edited by: Heather Steele
THE IVY CHELSEA GARDEN
The Ivy Collection adds another impressive private dining room to its portfolio
The clue’s in the name
when it comes to the aesthetic of this restaurant. Hanging baskets, rattan chairs and indoor plants dress the main space, which extends outdoors year-round. Food is of the style and standard we’ve come to expect from The Ivy Collection’s kitchens – think truffle arancini, the signature shepherd’s pie and grilled whole lobster – but it’s the new private dining room that really makes an impression. Round tables (or a single long table) are surrounded by boldly patterned chairs and sit under a gold ceiling; the walls are lined with vintage botanical prints and, of course, plenty of foliage. The private bar is a bonus – although venturing outside will undoubtedly result in a celebrity spot.
Private dining: 30
195-197 King’s Road, SW3 5EQ | 020 3727 6540
Salt Yard Group opens its fifth outpost and goes big on the seafood
The team behind Salt Yard and Ember Yard launched this Venetian-inspired restaurant in the St James’s Market development last December. An oasis of aquamarine hues, it’s clear that much thought has gone into the design – note the seashell lamps in the bathrooms, and blue-glass panels separating banquettes. This eye for detail is apparent throughout: on the night we visit the service is flawless, the cocktails exceptional and the food presentation engagingly stylish: the Cornish crab from the restaurant’s raw bar, for example, is served in a conch. The focus here is on small plates designed for sharing – goat ragu, rose shrimps marinated in lardo, and grilled octopus. For groups, these can be shared on the 40-seat mezzanine level that overlooks the main space. The best way to end a meal? A slice of oro rosso cheese from the impressively stocked trolley.
Semi-private dining: 40
3 Norris Street, SW1Y 4RJ | 020 3874 9100
HAMMER & TONGS
Succulent skewers and smoky steaks, all cooked on a 3m South African braai
A South African barbecue (or braai) sounds like a decent set-up for fun group dining. And our signature bone-in rib-eye sharer (aged and cooked over SA sickle bush wood) was all the confirmation we needed. A well-matched bottle of Stellenbosch certainly made things convivial too. The kitchen had a bit of a false start when it opened at the start of the year, but with Richard Lloyd (ex-Café Murano) appointed as new flames master, the venue now delivers a cool casual-dining experience. The place for groups is downstairs, where carnivorous cliques can dine semi-privately behind a glass partition full of ballsy South African reds. If you’ve got the numbers, why not do an exclusive private braai hosted by Lloyd himself?
Exclusive use: 60
Semi-private dining: 20
171 Farringdon Road, EC1R 3AL | 020 3302 6645
Vivek Singh brings style and small plates to Covent Garden
This is the fourth restaurant
in the Cinnamon Collection and, for more informal gatherings, our favourite. We find exec head chef Vivek Singh in the PDR, busy tending to a lively party. He tells us he wanted the space to be a ‘stylish and fun spot for an event’, and he seems to have nailed it. Drinks have been designed by award-winning mixologist Ryan Chetiyawardana (the Masala Cola Float goes down a treat) while a selection of small plates bring together the best of Singh’s take on Indian cuisine. Our pick? The crab and beetroot bonda.
Private dining: 30
28 Maiden Lane, WC2E 7JS | 020 7395 1400
Sir Terence Conran’s new gaff in Kensington has designs on smart business lunches
It was lunchtime when we sat down to eat at the new Design Museum’s restaurant in Kensington. It’s the best time to visit: people-watching through the dining room’s glass wall adds atmosphere to a space that does sparse with a big S. The aesthetic is sympathetic to the clean lines of the museum, though, and big windows are always a plus. Named after the building’s hyperbolic paraboloid roof (think Pringles), the kitchen quietly serves plates pretty enough to be on show a floor up. Starting with head chef Graham Blower’s delicate cured salmon is a good idea, and staying fishy with his poached trout is an even better one. Private dining is delivered in the nearby Members Room.
Exclusive use 40
Private dining 25
224-238 Kensington High Street, W8 6AG | 020 7940 8795
We were expecting bloody good meat and, boy, we got it
In a 19th-century warehouse, Hawksmoor group exec chef Richard Turner and his band of merry meat masters serve up what they’re best known for: beef. Groups should head straight downstairs to the Cooks’ Room, with its open kitchen, feasting table and reclaimed London Underground tiles. This is where the likes of beef tea, fried oysters, platters of tender 37-day dry-aged hereford beef, and black-forest baked alaska are served, sharing style. ‘Having this room, and being so close to Borough Market, we have the luxury of experimenting with our menus whenever we want – it really does belong to our chefs,’ co-owner Will Beckett tells us. If you don’t mind, Will, we’ll keep the steamed ox-cheek and tail puddings to ourselves.
Private dining 16
16 Winchester Walk, SE1 9AQ | 020 7234 9940
BEST OF THE REST
On the edge of Clerkenwell Green, The Crown Tavern (020 7253 4973) has been given a refresh, with two of its spaces now available for private hire. The 45-seat Apollo Lounge combines a new bar with period features, and is filled with plenty of daylight. Downstairs, The Clock Room is more intimate. This is a pub, so seasonal ales and classics such as fish and chips dominate the menu.
This article was first published in SquareMeal Venues + Events, Spring/Summer 2017