Samarkand, the first restaurant in London to celebrate Uzbekistan’s cuisine has just opened on Charlotte Street. Inspired by founder Sanjar Nabiev’s favourite childhood dishes, Samarkand serves up a modern take on Uzbek dishes for lunch and dinner, seven days a week.
Launching in the former Fino site in Fitzrovia, work on Samarkand began in August 2015, and has been designed by BusbyWebb, project managed by The Quercus Partnership with GS Contracts as the main contractors.
Keen to find out more about the project, Premier Hospitality recently caught up with Charles Oak from The Quercus Partnership, as well as James Coates, Interiors Director at BusbyWebb. Charles and James detailed their involvement in the project and gave us an insight into what makes Samarkand stand out from the crowd.
Speaking to Premier Hospitality, Charles said:
“We were involved with this project from the very beginning. Sanjar came to us with an idea and tasked us to create a great dining experience from finding a site, negotiating with the landlord, developing the menu and creating a fantastic space, all the while ensuring commercial viability.
“We brought in the right people, including BusbyWebb, our go-to design team, to bring this project together. BusbyWebb have the rare ability to be extremely creative while also getting the job done with efficiency and a minimum of fuss, which is incredibly important on a project such as this. The London restaurant scene is on fire at the moment and this restaurant is genuinely different. It is a unique project and as such needed a great design team involved.”
Regarding the design, the 150 sq metre restaurant is inspired by the team’s trip to Uzbekistan and features copper elements alongside beautiful handmade blue tiles and intricate carved wooden columns. A significant design feature is the grand entrance and staircase, which leads down to a 130 cover restaurant.
James said: “We opened up the space to create more of a wow factor as the guests walk in. Arriving at the reception area offers a spectacular view of the main restaurant. There are lot of blues, whites and coppers that run through the scheme and we have utilised contemporary lighting throughout.”
“We didn’t want the restaurant to be too traditional in its approach, but more of a contemporary space fitting its location with exciting touches of Uzbekistan throughout.
Working on Samarkand was not without its challenges, as Charles pointed out, “London in itself is a challenge.” He added: “The city is a very expensive place, so finding the right site is always difficult to do. It took us a year to find the right site for Samarkand, but thankfully we did and the result speaks for itself.”
Dishes at Samarkand will include Jizbiz – lamb chops with sautéed potatoes, Fatinon – flaky, buttery bread, Manti – pastry parcels filled with lamb or sweet potato, and the national dish Plov – fried rice with lamb and vegetables. Dishes are paired with the expansive vodka menu. The restaurant also boasts a cocktail bar on site.
Commenting on the importance of the Samarkand project, Charles said:
“This project was very important for us – we had to get this right. We developed a wonderful relationship with Sanjar, we become part of a team, so it was very important for us to make this a success.
“Getting this right for Sanjar and his family meant a great deal to us – they put so much trust in us to deliver it, so we wanted it to meet and surpass all expectations.”
“It was a really important project for us too as being quite a young practice; we are building our reputation through all the projects we undertake.
“This project was very exciting as we were responsible for creating the entire brand from start to finish, so it was a very big project for us and one we are very proud to have been a part of.”
IFour Hospitality Design Ltd
IFour Hospitality Design Ltd, specialise in the design and fit-out of bars and restaurants, for clients throughout the hospitality industry. The company provides a full turnkey service, with works including custom bar fabrication, bespoke wine displays, full kitchen fit-outs, custom cooking solutions and more.
IFour Hospitality Design Ltd is overseen by company directors, Paul Martin and Lee Swiffen, who boast more than 35 years’ experience between them. Over the years, Paul and Lee have been involved in various prestigious projects and are currently involved on the launch of multiple sites for two new fast casual restaurants groups ready to open later this year.
Most recently, IFour Hospitality Design Ltd has been heavily involved with Samarkand, building two new bars and a custom wine display & a custom vodka display (both complete with bespoke lighting, racking) for the restaurant. In addition, IFour Hospitality Design Ltd upgraded the kitchen, to include a custom island cooking suite, complete with robata grill, induction pans, new FriFri fryer systems and more.
Paul Martin, Director of IFour Hospitality Design Ltd, said:
“It was great to be involved with this project because we have worked with the project team for many years. We have long standing working relationships with the project manager, the designer and the main contractor and this always helps a project run smoothly. The client was also very exciting to work with and had a lot of great ideas to execute the work effectively.”
“At IFour Hospitality Design Ltd, we enjoy working with new clients, new start-ups and new groups as they are coming into the industry. Working very early on in the brand, perhaps a lot sooner than other catering/bar houses would do, we spend a lot of time assisting clients with their project, demonstrating our commitment to their new venture.”