The point of dining out in London, besides a meal of course, is being inside someone else’s tantalizing design story. Sometimes that story is an interpretation of decorum, and better for it; London’s St. John, by chef and architect Fergus Henderson, is the best example of how to dial down on overwrought design in praise of the original bones of a space. It’s the opposite case at Tramshed, with a Damien Hirst cow installation at its center—a needed focal point. Whatever the aesthetic, when a restaurant opens in London, it is tested with winning and maintaining the attention of capital by way of clever and entertaining design.
London does not lack creative individuals that dream, design and build really fabulous spaces. Mixologists, Central Saint Martin design majors, Noma-trained sous chefs, and so on, are some of the people behind the city’s most successful and design-focused restaurants. Restaurateurs David Waddington and Pablo Flack, for example, collaborated with one of London’s greatest design talents, Carmody Groarke, to retrofit of an old gas station to become The Filling Station, a restaurant and bar. “The project was a beacon for new development, a radical change of purpose,” says Waddington. “From a space for vehicles into a space for sitting still, eating, drinking, and talking.” While The Filling Station is no more, Waddington’s talent for repurposing abandoned places helped usher in a crop of new, trendy restaurants around the once-lackluster transit hub of King’s Cross.