New Restaurants: March
A.O.K Kitchen & Bakery, Marylebone
This month A.O.K Kitchen & Bakery opened its doors in Marylebone. With a focus on nourishing food, Kelly Landesberg and her team has created an all-day restaurant and bakery offering dishes inspired by the sun-soaked shores of the Mediterranean and California. Creeping vines and blooms line the restaurant, and hand-painted silk wallpaper and gemstone marble floors are incorporated throughout. Alongside an elegant dining room and bar, there’s a snug, which is available for private hire. Leading the kitchen is former Momo head chef Kostas Rampias. Under him, A.O.K’s menu is seasonally focused, completely free from refined sugar and limited in dairy and gluten: expect acai and coconut bowls and a nutritious take on a full English for breakfast, followed by seabass ceviche, gluten-free gnocchi and BBQ lamb chops. A drinks menu includes fresh juice-infused cocktails. Downstairs, A.O.K Bakery serves freshly made patisserie, viennoiserie and a variety of specialty breads created by Sebastien Chiono, head baker at The Arts Club.
52-55 Dorset Street, Marylebone, W1U 7NH
Fresh from giving Sketch a lick of paint in 2018, this year Mourad Mazouz has returned his attention to his debut London opening. A former haunt of Stella McCartney, Naomi Campbell and Madonna, the elegant North African gastro-brasserie has kicked off its 23rd year in style, adding an extended heated terrace, sumptuous interiors (think beaded lampshades and plenty of plush velvet furnishings) and a new ‘19th-century style’ bar, due to open in April. The menus have also been given a makeover by exec head chef Hervé Deville, who’s moved over from Sketch to lead the open kitchen. Offering a combination of light Mediterranean dishes with hints of North African flavours, we enjoyed; lemon chicken with crispy bulgar wheat in filo; a sumptuous lamb tagine and old favourite the ‘classic Momo couscous', served with a lamb cutlet, chicken and pistachio koftas, and Merguez sausages. Hospitality – overseen by Mazouz himself – continues to be a strong point: we imagine this would make a great spot for a stay-all-night birthday dinner.
25 Heddon Street, Mayfair, W1B 4BH
Orasay, Notting Hill
Following the success of Brunswick House and St Leonards in 2018, Jackson Boxer and Andrew Clarke’s newest venture is a 50-seat dining room in Notting Hill inspired by the western isles of Scotland, where Boxer has spent every summer since he was a child. Neighbourhood spot Orasay delivers a simple menu with a strong emphasis on seasonal seafood – think Three Teign River oysters with shallots and elderflower champagne; moreish fried shrimp with celery salt; and Cornish crab and pork agnolotti – as well as dishes using produce from their organic farm in West Sussex – we most enjoyed the Tamworth chop served with white beans and turnip tops. Special mentions go to the snackable fried bread with spring anchovies, which we enjoyed with a glass of cremant, and a delicate whisky, honey and walnut mille feuille. When it comes to drinks, expect rare wines by the glass, a mix of interesting bottles and cocktails on tap – we liked the tequila-tinged ‘Orasay Paloma’.
31 Kensington Park Road, Notting Hill, W11 2EU
Xier is the first solo project from Murano and Babbo alumnus Carlo Scotto, who’s drawn on his upbringing and travels through Europe and Asia to create a modern European menu with a global influence. The site is split into two distinct spaces: one is 62-cover ground-floor casual dining spot XR; the other is Xier, a first-floor dining room with an ambitious tasting menu for 38 guests. Available at £90 for ten courses, the tasting menu includes dishes such as red prawn crudo served with raspberry, red cavier and yuzu; and rose-cured salmon with foie gras, rhubarb and bramley apple. Meanwhile the à la carte casual dining menu in XR includes the likes of yellowfin tuna tartar with aubergine caviar, garden salad and taro chips, plus classic dishes such as hanger steak with pickled walnuts, shallots, parsley and baby aubergine. The interiors across both spaces offer a minimal feel with a neutral palette, letting the vibrant plates take centre stage.
13-14 Thayer Street, Marylebone, W1U 3JR
This month, slick Fitzrovia hotel The Mandrake unveiled its new restaurant. Taking over the space Serge et Le Phoque occupied when the hotel opened in 2017, Yopo takes inspiration from its namesake, a plant found deep in the jungles of Venezuela. Open from morning coffee through to dinner and drinks, the restaurant is resplendent in flora, from hanging jasmine and passion flowers in the courtyard, to displays over its entrance on Newman Street. Inside, you’ll find an open raw kitchen, exposed brickwork, a hand painted ceiling mural and textured wooden tables. The South American menu includes the likes of potato churros, seabass ceviche, blood orange, red onion and nasturtium; charcoal grilled octopus with aji panca and avocado; and smoked aubergine with sea herbs, all served on hand-thrown crockery. When it comes to desserts, we suggest opting for the Itakuja chocolate with yoghurt sorbet, salted caramel, fennel pollen and olive oil; or the buckwheat maca and hazelnut cake with smoked whisky caramel and crème fraiche.
20-21 Newman Street, Fitzrovia, W1T 1PG
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