London's New Restaurant Openings for Design Lovers
12 September 2018
Some say it was Apicius, the first century Roman lover of luxury/history’s original foodie, who said, “We eat with the eyes first.” This is why top chefs and restauranteurs know the value of good design. The architecture and interiors of a restaurant should naturally be an extension of the chef’s vision; and should put the diner in the right mindset to best enjoy the food that’s to come.
From a pastel coloured Mediterranean haunt to a floating bamboo forest overlooking the Thames; we’ve picked out the capital’s top new restaurant openings, whose impeccable menus are mirrored by equally impeccable design. So if you’re looking for a less ordinary dining experience, why not pop into a restaurant that serves up a feast for the belly, and a feast for the eyes too? Because there’s no feeling like satiating your hunger for good design. 
Yen is a high-end Japanese restaurant that specialises in authentic buckwheat soba noodles. Yen’s soba masters were trained by “Master of Soba” Takahashi Kunihiro. Here, they delight guests with a ritual-esque noodle prep, set within a glass theatre in the restaurant.
Designed by Sybarite, a London-based firm whose client list includes fashion houses Marni, Alberta Ferretti, and Joseph, YEN juxtaposes traditional Japanese elements with modern minimalist features. “We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to deliver a design that respects and celebrates traditional Japanese craftsmanship; whilst creating a contemporary and timeless backdrop to host the capital’s next restaurant destination," says Sybarite co-founder Simon Mitchell.
Blessed to be given a space that had incredibly high ceilings, the architects at Sybarite created a bamboo forest using elevated screens and timbers that were stained in five different colours in order to effectively mimic a tree canopy. “A standout design detail is a lightweight floating timber staircase that connects the entrance to the main dining floor below. Allowing diners to step off the busy street into an all-encompassing Japanese experience,” says Naomi Curtis, Head of Communications at Sybarite.
Japanese food and design are steeped in tradition and meticulous attention to detail. Through Yen, Sybarite has captured the perfect balance of the two,  allowing guests to experience the art of traditional noodle making, whilst sitting beneath a wooden tree-scape masterpiece. 
Italian deli, Lina Stores, has been feeding hungry Londoners since 1944. When the owners decided to open their first full-fledged restaurant early this year, they commissioned the team of architects of Red Deer to take on the job. “We didn’t want to duplicate the deli’s design, so we looked for visual cues from the original deli that we could bring over to 51 Greek Street,” says architect and co-founder Lionel Real de Azúa.
The new Lina Stores outpost stands out amongst its neighbours with its distinct pistachio-green Arto Deco-inspired façade, striped awning, and mosaic floor. Upon entering, the blend of contemporary and traditional is evident. High counter seating around a Formica bar with aluminium details give the restaurant a sleek but retro look, whilst the walls and ceilings are raw and aged with exposed piping and brickwork. Real de Azúa explains that the practice has an affinity for reclaiming and repurposing materials. A great example of this is how the leftover ground coffee beans from the Lina Stores deli were mixed into the plaster and gave the walls a textured (barista-approved) finish.
Showing the evolution of your brand is often challenging, but Lina Stores has proven that by giving respect to your past and having an open mind, the future will be bright — or in this case pistachio green. 
Omar Shabaan was born in Egypt to a renowned family in the food and hospitality business. Omar’s Place is Shabaan’s first opening in the capital, bringing Mediterranean flavours to life through a tapas-focused menu in collaboration with Mallorcan chef, Vicente Fortea.
Omar’s Place is located in a once abandoned Grade-II listed pub in Pimlico. Design studio Sella Concept, led by Tatjana von Stein and Gayle Noonan, and architecture consultancy Wilson Holloway, were brought in to create the sophisticated Mediterranean neighbourhood haunt that Shabaan envisioned. “We worked with a base of earthy colours and textures, nodding to Omar’s Mediterranean background. Our choice of materials blends the natural and organic feel of wood, with plaster walls, Corten steel, and an organic colour scheme with beautiful terrazzo, brass, velvet and mirror finishes,” explains Gayle Noonan, co-founder of Sella Concept.
Peach and sage green hues take centre stage on their perfectly chosen colour palette, with suede banquettes in rust, and clean-cut brass lines creating a sophisticated contrast of tone. The shape of the bar, curved edges of the joinery, and the overall visual identity of the restaurant were all created as an ode to the sun — a symbolic element in Shabaan’s Egyptian upbringing.
Being entrusted with making a client’s dream restaurant come to life can be a daunting task. But anyone who sits at the bar munching on tapas at Omar’s Place can agree, that the Sella Concept team was able to bring the warmth, soul, and laid-back attitude of the Mediterranean to Pimlico. Bringing just a little bit of Mediterranean sun into London’s bustling grey streets. 

Nestled in buzzy London Bridge is Casa do Frango. A place where diners can get a taste of the Algarve through a highly curated selection of traditional Portuguese dishes. The star of the show is their Piri-Piri Chicken, which is locally sourced and grilled over wood charcoal. Carefully selected Portuguese wine and Super Bock beer is also served on draught.
Aside from the authentic aromas coming from Casa do Frango’s kitchen, the dining room itself transports guests to early nineteenth century Portugal with suspended ceiling fans and hand-painted bar-front designs, that take inspiration from Lisbon’s famous trams. 
“We are not afraid of colours, textures, or greenery, and we always include a pinch of nostalgia,” explains Alessio Nardi, founder of interior design and furniture practice A-nrd. The Casa do Frango brief allowed them to create their version of a down-to-earth Portuguese tasca, (which translates to a traditional eatery with daily specials). “We utilised very unpretentious furniture and a convivial table layout which is very characteristic of Portuguese tascas …We aimed to make every customer feel comfortable and joyful, like they invited some friends over for a summer al fresco dinner,” Nardi explains.
Simple and traditional don’t always have to spell boring. Casa do Frango is a testament to A-nrd’s ability to take the concept of the modest Portuguese tasca, and produce an inspired homage to the understated beauty of the Algarve. 
Words by Ina Yulo 

Check out some of our top restaurant picks in London


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