London's Most Fragrant Restaurants
London's most fragrant restaurants, the new spot for a Chinese Sunday lunch, and where to eat in Barcelona.
At Isabel on Albemarle Street, Mayfair, it’s the first thing one notices as one divests oneself of outer layers at the door: the scent – seductive, woody vetiver with just a whisper of delicate rose. The fragrance is Oakmoss, devised exclusively for Isabel’s owner Juan Santa Cruz and his Santa Cruz Co portfolio of restaurants by Parisian perfumer Vanina Muracciole.
"I find fragrance creates a sense of place and evokes memories, which is important in restaurants," observes Santa Cruz. "As long as it’s in the right places, like reception and loos, it’s absolutely key to complete the experience."
Indeed, so many guests have enquired about the perfume, Santa Cruz has included a scented candle (made by Quintessence of Paris) in the chic tableware range he launches this month at his new Hanover Square spot, Nathalie.
Meanwhile, at the Mandrake in Fitzrovia the air is heady with wafts of sensual fig, jasmine and passion flower, mirroring the foliage that grows abundantly in the hotel’s hanging gardens.
There, too, is a ‘house’ scent – the Mandrake Signature Perfume (£40) designed by Azzi Glasser, founder of cult perfume atelier The Perfumer’s Story. Candles flicker throughout the hotel, in the bar, restaurant, bathrooms and lobby, and can be purchased there exclusively (£35).
For further evidence of the current obsession with olfactory pleasure, follow your nose to Hotel Café Royal’s Diptyque Afternoon Tea; 34 Mayfair’s cocktail collaboration with Creed; and, in Rome, the Hotel Eden’s Fragrance Bar with Campomarzio 70.
All eyes are on Andrew Wong this month with the launch of Kym’s at Bloomberg Arcade in the City, the informal follow-up to the chef’s Michelin-starred Pimlico restaurant A Wong.
Named after his parents’ Cantonese restaurant (which got its name from Wong’s maternal grandmother), Kym’s celebrates regional Chinese cookery, reevaluating Chinatown classics such as crispy duck and pancakes, and roast pork belly.
The Chinese Sunday Roast is one of the few good reasons to enter the Square Mile at the weekend. Interiors by Michael is Boyd incorporate a 16ft-tall cherry-blossom tree, the yin to the City’s yang.
24 hours in... Barcelona
Restaurateur and former El Bulli pastry chef Albert Adrià shares some cherished spots in his home city.
Hofmann is a school and pastelería where you can eat one of the best croissants in Spain – a perfect example of the art.
Senyor Parellada is a real Barcelona classic. Elegant and old-fashioned with wonderful service. The spot for rice in El Born.
Even though I spend so much time working with sweet things, I can always find something to enjoy at Bubó, a very chic patisserie and chocolate shop.
El Xampanyet is well known to tourists but you will still find plenty of discerning locals there. One of the historic places to drink ‘vermut’ like a Catalan. Carrer de Montcada 22
Rafael Zafra of Estimar has worked at many of Spain’s best restaurants, including El Bulli. I cannot recommend his cooking or this seafood spot enough.