As the London Design Festival wraps up, The Hunger celebrates a marriage of delectable food and sleek design at Granger & Co, alongside a celebration of London’s best minimalist restaurant interiors
Self-taught chef Bill Granger’s broad-reaching approach to menu-building has made him one of Australia’s most recognised restaurateurs and food writers. The son of a vegetarian mother and butcher father, Granger started out studying art, before his pursuits eventually became culinary. Now alongside his eponymous restaurants back home, he has just launched the second London branch of Granger & Co. Based in Clerkenwell, London’s design district, the interior was a primary consideration. “Our starting points for Bill’s restaurants are always comfort, ease, acoustics and light,” says Meacham Nockles McQualter, the Sydney architects who designed the space. “We’re fond of open, sunny rooms, and the height of the existing 1920s windows was raised to make the space stronger.”
For the food, the New World menu favours unequivocal fusion with decidedly spicy influences from Southeast Asia. Expect Korean fried chicken alongside masala roast bream, and bonito, tofu, potato and parmesan pizza sidling up to a shrimp burger with jalapeño mayonnaise. All to be enjoyed in a setting of restrained splendour that combines the type of materials appropriate for a domestic kitchen – rattan chairs, and dappled hardwearing countertops – with more industrial pieces including wall lights made in Italy for a German hotel in the 1960s. “We’ve used lots of banquettes for comfort, and to anchor the room and help people feel relaxed,” explains Meacham Nockles McQualter. “We’ve also added a few flowers, and works by Australian artists Polly Borland and Eliza Hutchinson for a touch of home.”
Other minimal London restaurant interiors that we love:
One of the latest entrants to London’s independent restaurant scene, Highbury’s Primeur is an object lesson in form = beauty. They get everything right: big wooden sharing tables that don’t crowd intimacy out, sliding ex-garage doors that let the inside in, and wide-bodied metal light fixtures designed in his spare time by co-owner Jeremie Cometto-Lingenheim. Even the scarecrow broom stored on the wall is as stylish as it is useful.
The Clove Club
Think post-war schoolroom meets the-brasserie-you-recommend-to-all-your-friends, and you’ll start to get an idea of this east London bar and dining room’s particular charm. The vibe is grown-up and down-to-earth, with high ceilings in Farrow & Ball-worthy shades and an open kitchen that shakes off the civic dust of the location’s town hall past. Intimate table settings are enhanced by top-notch British-made cutlery and tableware.
Whence Story? Once the site of a public lavatory in Bermondsey, British wunderchef Tom Seller’s first restaurant is an island of Nordic-inspired calm in the midst of thru-roads to London and Tower Bridges. Small, sparse and mostly windows, the building is a bit cute and cottagey – if you lived in a shire ruled by Arne Jacobsen.
Italian eatery Ombra on Vyner Street is backed by a group of local architects who were hankering for a decent plate of lunchtime homemade pasta, so they imported Venetian chef Andrea Michelon to that end. The place was first populated with wildly uncomfortable, throne-like chairs, but has settled into a perfect mix of relaxed contemporary design that is enhanced by the Italian staff’s largesse.
The décor at chef James Lowe’s first venue doesn’t announce itself, but this interior has made the list because they’ve managed to transform a relatively unexceptional space in east London’s Tea Building into a room with minimalist savvy and a touch of warmth, ergo avoiding the danger of being just another cookie-cutter warehouse conversion.
Granger & Co is at 50 Sekforde Street, London, EC1.
Text by Ananda Pellerin