London for large parties

7 Dec 2009 by Nick Lander

This article was originally published in Business Life.

This is the time of year when many of us, and in particular the more magnanimous companies, are on the lookout for a new and memorable location for a big celebration.

Small, private dining rooms that seat between 12 and 30 are an important ingredient in the financial make-up of any London restaurant today. There are only a few larger than this, such as the room above The Ivy, which can seat up to 50, but most bigger groups are best looked after in one of London's numerous hotels.

Here, however, are a few of my favourite locations for entertaining larger numbers.

Corrigan's Mayfair, www.corrigansmayfair.com

Richard Corrigan, the talkative, passionate and peripatetic Irish chef, opened here a year ago and it is unlikely that he will ever find himself in a more luxurious setting.

The main restaurant has a sumptuous feel to it with a large bar behind which the barmen dressed in stiff white jackets stand and deliver. There are two private dining areas, a Chef's Table which seats 12 and has a full view of the busy kitchen and The Lindsay Room (pictured), which seats up to 30.

Corrigan the Chef, has, however not changed. His menu still betrays his Irish roots and his passion for strong flavours often created from inexpensive ingredients. Great game dishes, too, at this time of the year.

Le Café Anglais, www.lecafeanglais.co.uk

Rowley Leigh's inspired rendition of a large, bustling Parisian brasserie (the original Café Anglais opened in Paris in 1802) set somewhat incongruously on the first floor of Whiteley's shopping centre in a former McDonald's.

Today, Le Café Anglais serves the kind of food that so many of us would like to eat as often as we could afford to. A large hors d'oeuvre selection offers Parmesan custard and anchovy toast; kipper paté with a soft boiled egg and fennel salami. Then from the two large, open grills comes a selection of meat, fish and whole roast chickens and, finally, an impressive dessert menu which Leigh uses to show off what he believes has become a singularly overlooked ingredient, fresh fruit.

Because of its size, Le Café Anglais works well for larger tables of six to ten and has a separate private room for up to 20.

The Greenhouse, www.greenhouserestaurant.co.uk

Tucked away in a calm Mayfair mews, The Greenhouse boasts a private dining room that can seat 10, and exudes a sense of extreme luxury if not pure indulgence.

These sentiments are amplified by a kitchen overseen by chef Antonin Bonnet; by an extraordinary wine list that is cared for by its owner, Marlon Abela, sommelier Ronan Sayburn and his buyers; and by a highly motivated service team.

As a consequence, The Greenhouse is the perfect venue for the more intimate celebrations and for those who will fully appreciate the ingredients on Bonnet's menus: foie gras; lobster; veal; delicious desserts and petits fours.

Quo Vadis, www.quovadissoho.co.uk

Since it reopened 18 months ago under the leadership of brothers Sam and Eddie Hart, the long-established Quo Vadis has come to epitomise the new Soho.

The restaurant is on the ground floor and while the room is broken up into several distinct areas, the sound of ringing mobiles and Blackberries from those in the new media that work nearby and eat here is ever present. The first floor belongs to the members' club, while the top floor is made up of a couple of private dining rooms that seat 12 and 30 respectively, the latter named after Karl Marx, who once lived here.

In any of these locations, the classic British menu is well sourced and its constituent ingredients extremely well cooked. Quo Vadis's location also makes it a very convenient location for a pre-theatre supper.

Rules, www.rules.co.uk

The oldest restaurant in London, established in 1798, boasts two small private rooms, named after the authors John Betjeman, which seats eight, and Graham Greene, which seats 12.

While the attraction of Rules for many Londoners and tourists alike over the years has been its traditional British menu, most notably the Morecambe Bay potted shrimps, steak, kidney and oyster pies and the golden treacle sponge pudding, what Rules also exudes is the atmosphere of how people used to entertain in days gone by. Its various floors are made up of series of different alcoves and tables tucked away in discreet corners that definitely add to the pleasure of the food and wine.

Tags:  London
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