When it was announced that the old BBC HQ would be converted into a complex that included luxury flats, restaurants, a members club, a hotel and Instagram-friendly work space, people scoffed. ‘Who’s going to go all the way out there?’
In fact, when I mentioned to a friend that I’d visited, their first question was: ‘How long did that take?’. Creatures of habit us Londoners, clearly. ‘If it ain’t in central…’ But let me remind all you City and West End dwellers that White City tube is about 15 minutes from Oxford Circus.
Someone clearly saw through the postcode panning, though: £1.5bn has been spent doing the Grade II-listed building up, while some semi-sympathetically designed structures have been annexed to house all the venues I’m about to tell you about.
New Soho Houses open all the time, so the group’s largest club yet didn’t come as an enormous surprise. But when we heard that Chelsea stalwart Bluebird
was picking this place to finally open a second site (there have been attempts for years), we knew the whole thing was going to have to be taken seriously.
So, here’s the low-down on all the event spaces we found:
White City House
We might as well start with the big boy. Soho House’s 19th and biggest members club has public areas and they’re easy to find: walk through the main doors and you’re immediately in restaurant and bar The Allis. Mid-century furniture, parquet floor and dim lights feel like the musical equivalent of Arctic Monkeys lastest album – cool, in a sultry kind of way.
What’s most interesting to event organisers, though, is the not-quite-finished event space at the back of the building, which will host 200 or so folk for pretty much any event you’re after. There’s a members-only equivalent on the eighth floor, which is popular for presentations and product launches. Book this to add some easily won coolness to your event.
The much-lauded over-sized sourdough pizzas from Home Slice
have been pleasing the edgier end of the foodie crowd for a while, but now here it seems they’re smartening up their act (presumably to cater for a posher West London lot) with a slick little new-build on the site’s north side.
There are still hipster vibes, though: orange school chairs, terrazzo flooring (which you’ll find just about everywhere in Television Centre) and a brushed metal bar all set around a huge ‘volcanic-stone’ pizza oven. In the far corner, there’s an eight-seat semi-private booth, or you can take the whole place for 70 people. We’re told the outdoor area will soon look pretty and will be open to hire for 40 people.
Finally, a second site. But if you’re expecting a copy of the King’s Road original
, think again. Here, there is a decidedly more playful atmosphere, exampled best in the mish-mash of interior styles: kitsch geometric prints mix fight for attention with multi-coloured mid-century furniture, a brass-finish art deco bar and lots of plant life.
The flora continues on its fashionable, easy-to-process menu. Photo-friendly salads will please veganistas; otherwise de rigueuer small plates reign supreme. While there’s a group-ready long table (framed by bright-red metal work), there’s no private dining room – exclusivity is achieved by taking the place wholesale. For our money, this place is business lunch not dinner, but standing parties in the evening would work well.
It wasn’t yet open when we visited, so I won’t go into too much detail. What we do know is that this is the logical progression of a restaurant brand on the ascendancy. The boys behind this inventive and high-grade Indian tapas proposition were given god-like status when they opened their first little hole in the wall
at Box Park in Brixton a few years back.
They then went bricks and mortar in Soho
, but have followed the other skater-boy-chefs-done-good (Patty & Bun
included) by opening their biggest place yet with this 140-cover restaurant, cocktail bar and terrace. We’ll review the place soon and let you know about any private dining options then.