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Great food is a given in London these days. To impress, a restaurant must also offer a seat with distinction. London’s design mavens and foodies alike will appreciate the hand-crafted masterpieces above and below the tables. At the following restaurants you’re guaranteed five-star satisfaction for your plate and a big-name designer for your bum:
Ottolenghi (various locations) There’s a reason Verner Panton’s molded-plastic chairs are so popular: they make you want to linger a bit longer. When Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi launched his small restaurant empire 15 years ago, he made the bold choice of pairing primary-coloured iterations of the designer classic with communal tables in his airy white interiors. The move pushed Ottolenghi’s wholesome Middle Eastern dishes into the mainstream and, with it, spurred a Panton renaissance.
Pharmacy 2 (Newport Street) In 2015, Damien Hirst opened Newport Street Gallery in South London to share his art collection with the public. He is also responsible for the attached shop and restaurant, Pharmacy 2, where top chef Mark Hix does the cooking. Hirst designed the restaurant as an homage to Pharmacy, the 1990s hangout that became the emblem of Cool Britannia. His chairs and banquettes are emblazoned with the iconic pill motif, and the bar stools take the shape of colourful tablets.
Fischers (50 Marylebone High Street) Corbin and King’s old-timey Viennese café is a throwback to the world of Freud and Mahler with a killer Holstein schnitzel and perfect poppy-seed cake. The design, by London duo Brady Williams, is also right on the nose. Mirrored walls reflect the low lighting, and the art nouveau artwork is reminiscent of Gustav Klimt. To finish it off, the dark, bentwood, no-nonsense chairs by Austrian manufacturer Thonet are a well-chosen nod to the theme.
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Sketch (9 Conduit Street) This louche Mayfair haunt has something for everyone, really. On the one hand there are the most outrageous future-retro bathrooms in London. On the other, it is the city’s most sumptuous tearoom. Parisian architect-designer India Mahdavi is behind the tearoom’s pastel-pink boudoir aesthetic, which includes the super-snug velvet chairs that compel otherwise sensible adults to clear their calendars and stay through dinner.
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Parabola (224-238 Kensington High Street) The in-house restaurant at London’s new Design Museum lives up to its surroundings. Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby of Universal Design Studio outfitted the restaurant with their Zeb bar stools and Mariposa sofas for Vitra. They also installed leaf green leather-upholstered window seats that overlook Holland Park. Parabola’s roster of distinguished guest chefs includes Londoner Rowley Leigh.
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