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The original bison grass vodka

Welcome Welcome to the June issue of Eat.Drink.Sleep. It’s been an enjoyable 18 months at the helm of this magazine and it’s with some sadness that I say goodbye as I relocate back to my northern roots. The recession has meant it’s been a tough time for the industry, but it looks like things are looking up and I wish you all the best for the future. This month, man of the moment Pierre Brahm takes part in My Top 10. He’s been in the interior design industry for more than 30 years and now runs one of the most successful design companies in the UK. In addition to being the CEO and founder of Brahm, Pierre also holds a number of directorships and patronships with various property and design companies and arts institutions. So it’s a real honour that he agreed to be interviewed for Eat.Drink.Sleep. July. As always it’s going to be a busy few months for trade exhibitions. Recent figures show that visitor numbers are on the up and our review of the Surface Design Show confirms this. We also take a look at Easyfairs: Interior Fit Out and highlight what not to miss. Whitebox and Top Floor show readers around their latest project at a Notting Hill house for a one-page special on flooring. Armourcoat is a big name in the surfaces sector and this month we talk about the company’s latest work at the Gourmet Burger Kitchen and the Aviator Hotel at Farnborough Airport. We’ve also managed to convince one of the biggest names in hospitality – Christopher Guy – to take part in our feature on the latest trends and issues.

Jodie Field Editor Eat.Drink.Sleep.


North East firm expands and takes on 14 new members of staff


Behind the scenes at

9 Luxx

Whitebox and Top Floor show readers around this Notting Hill house

10 Zilli BITES

The Editor’s pick of the coolest products


The Alice in Wonderland theme is huge

14 HUNTER 486

This month’s must-reads

Orchid blooms Orchid Group directors Rufus Hall and Simon Dodd talk to Mark Ludmon about their plans for the company’s new portfolio of bars


hen Orchid Group was formed three-and-a-half years ago, it became best known as an operator of local pubs, albeit ones with a good food offering. However, last year it emerged as one of the UK’s biggest bar operators, buying up brands such as The Living Room, Prohibition and Bar Room Bar as well as some of the north-east’s leading bars and clubs. “When we were established, we wanted to invest in the suburban market as we felt the high street was overheating with a lot of discounting pressure,” explains chief executive Rufus Hall. “But we always wanted a foothold in the high street and now we feel this is the time to do it.” Orchid was created by an investment firm, GI Partners, through buying 290 former Spirit Group pubs from Punch Taverns, which were bundled up with another of its acquisitions, the Noble House and Oriental Restaurant Group. The portfolio included a handful of bars, branded as Bar Room Bar, but within a year these were sold on to a new company headed by Tony and Ross Sanders, leaving Orchid with its focus on pubs and restaurants. At the end of last year, food accounted for 43 per cent of turnover in an estate ranging from Dragon pubs specialising in Thai food to the


contemporary Carveries. In June last year, Orchid bought back the 10-strong Bar Room Bar estate after the owner went into administration, signalling that it was on the acquisition trail and looking at city-centre bars. It also proved that Orchid had emerged from an unsettling time for its own finances that saw it officially go into administration in December 2008 but immediately rescued in a financial restructuring with GI Partners and the same management team at the helm. With its toes already dipped into the bar sector, Orchid plunged in at the end of last year by acquiring Premium Bars & Restaurants (PBR). This business had been in administration for five months after being one of the stars of the UK bar scene since 1997 when it began life as the Newcastlebased Ultimate Leisure Group. In 2006 and 2007, PBR had snapped up Prohibition Bar & Grill, Bel and the Dragon pub-restaurants and The Living Room, giving it an enviable range of venues in towns and cities across the country. While Orchid has historically not been about branded pubs, Hall himself has a strong background in this area having been managing director of Ha! Ha! Bar & Canteen and operations director of Tom Cobleigh.

“This is our first foray into brands,” explains commercial director Simon Dodd, who himself was once head of marketing at Yates’s. “We want to grow the brands, not remove the branding. We are investing a lot in consumer research to understand the brands and what consumers are looking for.” Orchid will also be investing in the sites themselves, spending £3million by the end of this year. Hall says it will be more about “evolution rather than revolution. We have inherited a great business here and through investment we are going to refresh and evolve the offers rather than turn them upside down and change them completely.” Ultimate Leisure’s former offices in Newcastle have been reopened after Orchid created a new operating division to manage the unbranded bars and clubs as well as another division focused on developing The Living Room and Prohibition. Danny Fox, the co-founder of The Living Room, is staying on temporarily as managing director but is leaving “to look for a new challenge”. “Orchid is well placed to pick up the reins and their expertise will no doubt take The Living Room forward,” Fox says. With three other divisions managing the restaurants, food-led pubs and freehouses, Hall says Orchid’s structure brings the benefits of an independent business but with the strength of a larger company behind it. “Because of the size of the business, we can bring some economies of scale to bear, with better career development and training. The most important thing we are going to bring is security. Our immediate priority is to get our arms around the business and get into a safe harbour.”


The global phenomenon of Supperclub, combining drinking, dining, clubbing and performance, has arrived in London

Where to find it

12 Acklam Road London W10 5QZ Tel: 020 8964 6600 Email:

Who did it

Design concept: Concrete London design: Grapes Design Contractor: Alterspace Kitchen: Nelson Catering Equipment Bespoke tables: Woodhouse Contract Furnishers Panton chairs: Conran Contracts


ince the first Supperclub opened in Amsterdam 17 years, it has become a global brand, spawning further sites in Singapore, Istanbul and San Francisco and pumping out over a million copies of its compilation club albums.The brand has now arrived in London, taking over the space under the Westway at Notting Hill that used to be Neighbourhood and, before that, Subterranea. Like the other Supperclubs, it promises to combine food and drink with performance, visual art and music, with “the many avantgarde, risqué and occasionally provocative elements that have made the original site in Amsterdam world famous”. Covering two levels, London’s Supperclub is made up of a series of rooms focused around the central area of the Salle Neige, the dining area that is also a performance space and, later in the evening, a nightclub. It is furnished with the white oversized beds that Supperclub is well known for, where customers both eat and drink (although there are tables and chairs for the more conventional guest). There is also a mezzanine area providing a bird’s eye view of the action below. Before reaching the Salle Neige, people arrive in Bar Rouge which is described as a “sumptuous, upholstered take on a classic hotel bar”. Separately, there is Bar Noir, with its own entrance, which is a cosy intimate space specialising in champagne. The history of Supperclub belies its


modern multi-national profile. It was started in an Amsterdam warehouse in the 1980s by a group of young artists to view each others’ work. As it lacked furniture, they brought in their own mattresses. It proved so popular that entrepreneur Bert van der Leden developed it into a venue that opened to the public in 1992. As it is a theatrical performance space as much as a place for dining and drinking, even the waiting staff and barstaff are in costumes – one visitor reports seeing a burlesque angel and a bullfighter taking orders. Cocktails are available alongside champagne and spirits although, as Bar magazine was going to press, a full cocktail list was still in development. As part of the Supperclub brand portfolio, the company has its own range of vodkas: clear, black and white. Massages are also on offer for customers looking for a non-alcoholic way to wind down. The roll-out of the Supperclub concept globally has been developed by Dutch design practice Concrete Architectural Associates. For London, Concrete and the venue’s owners Mark Cutler and Alberto Barbieri have worked with British firm Grapes Design, headed by Darren

Grapes. In much the same way that his practice worked on the London outpost of Bungalow 8, Grapes Design undertook the UK design implementation working in collaboration with Concrete, creating a master drawing package for both feasibility and approvable stages. Senior designer Naomi Doran of Grapes Design turned Concrete’s original concept sketches into unique detailed construction and design drawings, using established contacts in the UK for products and materials. While all Supperclubs are based on the same concept, they all have their own unique elements, she explains. “The thing that stands out when you first enter the Supperclub is the quirky pink reception and cloak lobby which is clad with kitsch flowery mattresses. These mattresses were hand-made to fit the given space and therefore the fabrics would need to be sourced separately. Although this may seem like a simple task, it turned into quite a task finding a fabric which fulfilled all fire rating while simultaneously reaching the appropriate level of ‘granny-ness’.”

Luxx Innovative and classic cocktails feature at Luca Maggiora’s exclusive new Mayfair club


espite the recession, the number of new top-end clubs opening in London so far this year has been phenomenal. One of the latest is Luxx, which has emerged in the basement of the former Mayfair home of Eve Club just off Regent Street. It has been launched by Luca Maggiora, a former banker, but he is no newcomer to the scene, having worked previously at promoting one of the capital’s most successful venues, The Maddox Club. “It is my first venture but I hope it won’t be my last,” he says. Although Luxx is not a members club, Luca explains that the 200-capacity venue will be exclusive in choosing who is invited through the door. “I don’t really believe in members clubs,” he says. “All the others say they are members clubs but there are people you can contact to get you into them. We are more a club that you get into if you know the right person.” He says that he and his team of in-house promoters will ensure that Luxx is filled with the right crowd of successful professionals. “Passers-by may be able to come in if they look right for the club but it will be very selective on the door.” The venue, which has an enclosed walled garden at the back, has been designed by Italian architect Rossella Stina. It features 80s-inspired black lacquer walls embedded with coloured strips of red, yellow and green LED lights while a striking glass runway of coloured lights stretches the length of the room. It is complemented by large mirrors, charcoal leather bench seating, a black

marble-top bar and champagne tables sponsored by Grey Goose. Luxx opens Wednesday to Saturday, 10pm to 4am, featuring DJs playing house music through the state-of-the art ATC sound system. “I strongly believe in having top DJs in boutique clubs even though they are used to playing to 2,000 to 3,000 people,” Luca says. “It’s great for the guests and great PR for us.” After opening Luxx in February, he opened an Italian restaurant, lounge bar and gallery upstairs called Cielo last month. It has a separate entrance to Luxx, which is accessed from a basement door, although there will be opportunities for diners to slip downstairs without going outside. “It is important for us to create two different concepts that are separate,” Luca explains. The drinks at Luxx and Cielo have been put together by general manager Andreas Jansson who was at The Cuckoo Club for four years as bar manager. He is assisted

Where to find it 3 New Burlington Street London W1S 2JF Tel: 020 7297 2893

Who did it Design: Rossella Stina Furniture: Juliette’s Interiors Lighting: Rocket Production Sound system: ATC

by Sophian Ejjanfi, previously bar manager at Fifty under Salvatore Calabrese. Luxx focuses on champagnes from Dom Perignon up to Krug and Cristal as well as bottles of spirits such as vodka and cognac. There is a simple list of classic cocktails, although customers will be able to tap into the more comprehensive and innovative cocktail list at Cielo. Here, Andreas has created a list with a few Italian influences as well as ingredients such as home-made syrups, infused sugars, Earl Grey jelly and Cloudberry jam. Andreas says he wants to take it back to the “real classics” such as a Gin Smash and a Brandy Crusta. “We want to focus on classic cocktails as well but try to steer away from doing just Manhattans and Old Fashioneds like everyone else,” he explains. There is a good selection of Italian liqueurs and spirits such as vermouth, grappa and limoncello, but Andreas, with some help from Speciality Drinks and Bacardi Brown-Forman Brands, has put together an interesting list of gins, rums and vodkas. | 9

Zilli bites


ldo Zilli is one of the bestknown chefs in Britain, familiar from numerous TV cookery programmes as well as for losing two-and-a-half stone in Celebrity Fit Club. But pop into Zilli Bar in London or one of his restaurants, and you may find yourself being served a plate of pasta or a glass of wine by the 54-year-old owner himself. His latest venture has been a revamp of the restaurant that he opened in Dean Street, Soho, 22 years ago. Called Signor Zilli, it helped to cement his reputation for authentic Italian cuisine but he has taken the bold step to relaunch it as Zilli Green, an Italian vegetarian restaurant, inspired in part by his TV weight-loss experience. In all the publicity about Zilli Green earlier this year, there was little notice made of the refurbishment of the premises next door which, since 1993, has operated as an Italian bar under the name of Zilli Bar. Here, you can sit at tables or at the counter and enjoy a good selection of wines, including prosecco, as well as Italian liqueurs. There is also a short cocktail list mainly made up of classics such as a Mojito, Daiquiri and Mai Tai plus some Italian-inspired mixes such as a Raspini made with prosecco and fresh raspberry puree.


In the refurbishment, some of the original features such as the mirrors have been retained, but new walnut furniture has been brought over from Venice. The solid marble tables and bar top have also been imported from Italy. Some of the furniture has been salvaged from the former Signor Zilli, such as wooden shelves, and many of the staff have come over from the old restaurant too, including manager Nino Ripani who emigrated from Italy with Aldo after they grew up together in a coastal village in the Abruzzo region. With a top chef involved, food is inevitably still key to the business. “We had a small amount of food before but the menu is now geared more towards tapas-style, food for sharing,” Aldo explains. These “Zilli Bites” are different to the dishes at Zilli Green next door, which is a totally separate building with its own kitchen. “It’s good to have two separate places as otherwise I’d be tempted to do the same thing in both places,” Aldo adds. He has strong ties with Soho, which is where he found himself after he arrived from Italy at the age of 19. “When I first came here, I landed in Soho,” he recalls “It was the most Italian place in London.” After working in Italian restaurants, he

Chef Aldo Zilli talks to Mark Ludmon at his newly refurbished Zilli Bar in Soho, London acquired his first restaurant, Il Siciliano in Dean Street, before launching Signor Zilli in 1988. In 1997, he opened Zilli Fish in nearby Brewer Street, followed by the neighbouring Zilli Café. At one time, he also had restaurants in Notting Hill and Covent Garden but he chose to focus the group around his Soho roots. Unsurprisingly, Aldo has seen a lot of change in this once-seedy part of town over the past three decades, not least the arrival of many new restaurants and bars. “Competition is dreadful now,” he says. Two years ago, Aldo opened his first venture outside of London, Zilli Brasserie and Zilli Café inside the funky Myhotel in Brighton, although these closed last year to be replaced by Table and Cup/Bottle. But Aldo is undaunted and says that if Zilli Green continues to be a success, he will look at replicating the concept in larger premises in other towns and cities around the UK. “It’s difficult to start something new,” he says. “This year marks my 30th anniversary as one of Soho’s original restaurateurs. At the time, I brought a fresh new approach to eating Italian food to London and I want to mark this anniversary with an equally exciting new approach to a fresh and healthy way of life for everyone to enjoy.”

Joe’s Bar

A stylish showpiece bar and restaurant at Birmingham university is part of a new breed of student union bars, reports Mark Ludmon


hen I went to university a couple of decades ago, the student union bars were not much better than a poorly run boozer – sticky carpets, shabby décor and little else but pints of beer and cider pumping out. With the rise of “young people’s venues” and student pubs in the 1990s, universities in towns and cities had to try much harder to keep their clientele, forcing them to bring high-street values to their union bars. One of the latest examples of this is Joe’s Bar at the University of Birmingham’s Guild of Students, a students’ union for over 28,000 students. The contemporary, stylish new venue has been created out of redundant retail space as part of a £4million redevelopment project funded by the university and the Guild. The objective was to reflect today’s student and avoid it being a stereotypical student bar. It also needed to function as both a bar-restaurant in the daytime and a club at night. They turned to experienced bar and restaurant designers Rob Matthews and Nick Mee of practice MatthewsMee, who were briefed to develop a new showpiece bar and European-style 100-cover restaurant. It is a long, slim space but this has been broken up by using tile and oak flooring which is reflected by the floating ceiling rafts set on a dynamic angle for dramatic effect. Various zones have been anchored into the space with the introduction of


raised dining “cabins” formed from slatted birch plywood, with added warmth from amber mood lighting. To allow the venue to become a club at night, the seating and tables retract to create space for a dance floor and more people to stand. The lighting can be adjusted to suit a night-time club environment. With floor-to-ceiling windows, the bar opens out onto a long slim colonnade terrace which is finished in an all-weather steel and glass roof. At the opposite end, it looks out onto the central Mermaid Square courtyard, where MatthewsMee has added raised dining areas, with edge-lit glass, steel and timber, centred around the existing mermaid statue and fountain. With a good standard range of drinks behind the bar, it has a food menu chiefly made up of pizzas and pasta dishes, with desserts a speciality. While the venue may be new, the name is not: the previous Joe’s Bar was located in another part of the building. However, students voted to retain the old name out of respect for its heritage, especially as it was named after Joseph Chamberlain, the university’s first chancellor. The new Joe’s was also based on research into what students wanted and market analysis. “The new Joe’s Bar is fantastic and the response and feedback we’ve had from students is extremely positive,” Guild president Fabian Neuner says. Change can sometimes be met with hostility, but our students have embraced the new Joe’s.

Where to find it

University of Birmingham Guild of Students Edgbaston Park Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TU Tel: 0121 251 2300

Who did it

Designer: MatthewsMee Contractor: WFC Interior Consultants & Contractors Loose furniture: Satelliet-Browns, MRF Timber decking: John Brash & Co Catering and bar supplier: Francis Catering Decorative lighting: Premier Lighting Supplies Carpets: Gaskell Mackay Timber flooring: Priory Hardwoods Upholstery: Abbey Fabrics, Sunbury Fabrics Electrical contractor: Manstal

Hobgoblin. Pull something different. The Hobgoblin is not one for sticking to conventions. So let’s face it, the new handpull was always going to be something different. The innovative design creates standout and dispenses above the bar to maximise the theatre of the cask beer serve. Coupled with our new fastcask™ innovation which makes cask beer easier than ever to handle, there has never been a better time to introduce cask beer to your customers.

So what are you waiting for? Join the cask beer revolution and let your customers taste something! Call 0800 587 0773 for enquiries or speak to your Marston’s representative.

HUNter 486 The bar at new hotel The Arch aims to be welcoming and inclusive with its Martinis and classic elegance


he new five-star hotel The Arch exudes classic glamour. With 82 rooms, it has been created by AB Hotels Group out of seven Georgian townhouses and two mews homes in a side street in Marylebone, London, close to Marble Arch which inspired its name. Its nine suites are named after the local dialling codes of the 1950s, when letters represented numbers, such as JUNiper 586 and CHAncery 242, and this idea has been extended to its bar and restaurant, HUNter 486. This space is made up of not just the bar and restaurant but also Le Salon de Champagne and, down a corridor, the pleasingly named Martini Library. Like the rest of the hotel, it was designed by RDD, an award-winning international practice headed by Richard Daniels which specialises in hotels. For the food and beverage operations, they worked with hospitality consultancy Gorgeous Group, headed by Robbie Bargh. “The concept evolved into a 1950s glamorous, quite decadent space that complements the building in the right way,” Robbie points out. He says it is set to appeal to both guests and local people, becoming a destination bar. “Hotels are all about hospitality and hotel bars should be at the centre of the hub, but you wouldn’t think the bar was part of a hotel.” Entering the elegant Portland stone portico, people walk through a lobby full of classical furniture and bold original


artwork. The bar, restaurant and Salon de Champagne are within the one space of HUNter 486 but each has its own environment, with shimmering sheer curtains offering privacy for those who want it. It features a pewter-fronted bar, with brushed silver bar stools designed by Philippe Starck, jewel-coloured armchairs by Tom Dixon, deep-buttoned banquette seating and a glass over-bar layered and lit to create a misty display and seductive glow. Lighting includes cascading columns of lit glass rods in the champagne area, illuminating each table, and three large clusters of brosilicate lamps suspended from a pressed-tin ceiling in the bar, casting light over the bar’s bronze and mirror detailing. Industrial-style pendants provide a more down-to-earth tone in the restaurant with its stainless-steel servery open to the kitchen. In the more tranquil Martini Library, customers can sit in wing chairs and order Martinis that are mixed at a centrepiece cabinet. The space is reminiscent of a private townhouse drawing room with Taschen coffee table books, small paintings propped on bookshelves, clusters of vases and a glass teapot display. There are six core Martinis on offer from a Martinez and Manhattan to the house cocktail: the Huntini, made with Van Wees gin, dry sherry and Lillet Blanc. However, “we can make anything that the customer wants so long as we have the ingredients,” adds head bartender Alastair Burgess who presides over the HUNter 486

Where to find it

50 Cumberland Place London W1H 7FD Tel: 020 7724 4700 Email:

Who did it

Design: RDD F&B consultancy: Gorgeous Group Floor and side lamps: Artemis Design Brosilicate lamps: R&S Robertson Pendant lights: Original BTC Banquette seating: Wychwood Design Library chairs and table: HB Group Occasional tables: Andrew Martin Salon chairs: Tom Dixon (George Smith) Bar stools: Philippe Starck Sheer curtains: Abbott & Boyd Rugs and cushions: Loophouse Artwork: Artefact Hotel Art Consultants

“family of spaces”. He was previously head bartender at Pegu Club in New York, working under Audrey Saunders, and, before that, worked at Mook in Notting Hill, London. His drinks list does not include classic cocktails because he believes customers expect a good bar to be able to make those anyway. Instead, there are nearly 20 original cocktails such as a variant of a Dark ‘n’ Stormy called Gales At Dusk, made with Goslings rum, Fever-Tree ginger beer, lemon, honey and La Vieille Prune plum brandy. The intention is for HUNter 486 to be accessible rather than exclusive, Alastair adds. “It’s 100 per cent open to all, without pretension and no-one looking down on you.”


Serve a full, cold can over your bar. After all, that’s what your customers want and when other people see the can, they’ll be up at the bar asking for the same.

Eat Drink Sleep  

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