Number 85 Piccadilly
Bookended by the Fox Club and the former In and Out Club (a shroud of scaffolding is due to be removed imminently to unveil the capital’s most hotly anticipated new hotel), Number 85 Piccadilly was also once a club. Sir Robert Taylor’s late 18th century New Grafton House was transformed into the Turf Club by John Norton in 1875. Loosely Italianate, a twin canted bay façade faced Green Park although the entrance was off Clarges Street. A recessed arch enjoyed parallel curvature with the fanlight over the doorway. A semicircle in a semicircle. The Turf Club was renowned for having 16 ducal members at one time. It was demolished in 1966.
The replacement building could have hardly been more different to its ornate predecessor. A disruptive 10 storey office block – bands of ribbon glazing interrupted by precast concrete panels – takes no architectural prisoners, no neighbourly nod, no design deference. It is what it is. Or rather it was what it was. The elevations at ground and mezzanine level, if not quite softened, have been innovatively refined. Design consultancy Lustedgreen has opened up the solid infilled areas between the structural bays and installed large format seamless glazing. Bronze fascia panels have been introduced between the two floors. The material is inspired by the Ritz Hotel along Piccadilly. The pattern is derived from the plane tree bark of Green Park. A rigidly controlled palette energises the robustness of the materiality both old and new.
All these external changes heralded the arrival of Hide, a restaurant celebrating the brilliance of young chef Ollie Dabbous. After five years running his hugely successful eponymous restaurant in Fitzrovia, Yevgeny Chichvarkin and Tatiana Fokina persuaded Ollie to head up their new venture. The Russian power pair also own Hedonism, a top end wine shop in Mayfair. The restaurant is spread over three floors – basement, ground and mezzanine – linked by a whirl of a wood staircase. The external reliance on materiality continues indoors. Rustic chic is the look with plenty of wood. Even the pen that comes with the bill is on brand. Wood. Brown dome pendant lights set in larger glass domes resemble broken eggshells. Semi-spheres in semi-spheres. Cast bronze filigree sun shades on the mezzanine windows are decorated with a leaf skeletal design. The ground floor is slightly sunken, giving guests a good view of passing Louboutins.
Ollie is full of energy, bounding up from the kitchen where he’s hard at it. “So good to see you again! I’m glad you came now as we’re really getting established! Hide is doing brilliantly!” If guests don’t fancy anything on the wood backed wine list, an order can be placed with Hedonism. Just 12 minutes later, a bottle of their finest – 6,500 wines and spirits to choose from – will arrive on guests’ tables. Brunch is soft shell crab tempura with Thai basil and green peppercorns. The crab, perched on a pebble, has been deconstructed then reconstructed. Kohlrabi, ripe pear, elderflower vinegar and perilla lies somewhere between liquid and solid. Cornish mackerel tartare and iced eucalyptus arrives steaming. It’s a shock to the senses to discover it’s a cold dish. Canelés cooked in beeswax, twisting textures, complete a wild and wonderful brunch.