Sometimes it’s more palatable to pitch up at a restaurant bar to get a feel for the ambience rather than committing oneself to an entire meal, and with many of the most oversubscribed eateries boasting better drinking facilities than your local boozer, it can be a good bet for starting a night out.
Roka Mayfair is one such opening, nestled among the swanky restaurants along North Audley Street. Those who have experienced Roka’s forebears will know the robata grill in the centre of the room gives the restaurant a kinetic energy and the drinker a frisson of excitement. People who enjoy watching chefs in action will have a great vantage point from which to do so whilst enjoying a selection of Japanese whisky or sake from Roka’s extensive menu, or one of the shochu-based and Asian-influenced cocktails that have earned Roka and Zuma such a devoted following.
For something a bit different, Marani opened on Shepherd’s Market and is introducing supra cuisine to Mayfair’s well-heeled denizens. The design brings together traditional Georgian and contemporary European accents, a series of hand-painted murals throughout the dining rooms, handsome cut-glass pendant chandeliers, mantlepieces and lampshades that you might find in a Tbilisi home, and even an upstairs bar peddling the national spirit, cha cha.
For a taste of Lombardian aperitivo culture, Café Murano, nestled in the quiet gentility of St James’s, fits the bill. The dining room, designed by Russell Stage Studios, is an exercise in minimalism. An ivory-hued, marble-topped bar runs half the length of the restaurant, which is monochromatically white with art deco frosted windows, a chandelier with cut-glass pendant lighting and an outsized mirror with a distressed bronze-painted frame. For old school glam, the Holborn Dining Room at the Rosewood Hotel hits the mark. Located in what was formerly the east banking hall of the Pearl Assurance, the it has received a sensitive refurbishment from Martin Brudnizki Design Studio, who also worked his magic on the celebrated Scarfes Bar next door. The grand brasserie features a very long, art deco-style, copper-topped bar from which diners can enjoy a range of craft beer, wines and classic cocktails.
Tim Badham is the founder of Innerplace, the exclusive London lifestyle concierge; innerplace.co.uk; @innerplaceLDN