One of London’s premier hospitality brands has launched its latest restaurant venture bringing a Nordic and French fusion to the heart of the capital.
D&D London opened Aster at the end of February within the Nova development opposite Victoria station. Comprising a café, deli and restaurant across two floors, Aster is an all-day venue serving high quality food in a stunningly crafted environment.
Dishes served at Aster will be done so under the watchful eye of executive chef Helena Puolakka. Finnish-born Helena has taken inspiration both from her Nordic roots and her time working in a number of prestigious kitchens. She previously worked at La Tante Claire and the renowned Hotel Balzac in Paris.
Meals in the restaurant, café and deli are made from the finest possible ingredients extensively sourced from the best suppliers available. The restaurant menu, inspired by a Nordic/French fusion, has been curated to showcase unique flavours from Arctic char to Aberdeen Angus.
Diners can wet their appetites with starters including Nordic fish roes, potato blini and sour cream; Aster cured salmon, pickled cucumber, roe and crisp rye; and quail, pumpkin, roast seeds and golden raisins.
Main dishes, that will no doubt become firm favourites amongst patrons, include hot smoked Arctic char with Greenland prawns, aubergine caviar and dill; Sea bass with fennel, olives and tomato; and Aberdeen Angus fillet with golden roots, truffle potato and madeira.
Focusing on the space in which diners will enjoy their food, Russell Sage Studio was tasked with designing the 10,000 sq ft venue having previously worked with D&D on similar projects. WFC was the main contractor on Aster.
Speaking to Premier Hospitality about the interior, Senior Designer Alan Ellis said:
“The restaurant is in a world class location, in the heart of London. The brief was to create a space that would be beautiful, varied and appropriate for its location, close to Victoria Station. The idea was to devise an all-day bar/restaurant/grand café space.
“The ground floor is divided into two spaces, a Cafe/Deli/Wine Bar and a Grand Café/Bar, both which flow together. The restaurant can be entered through two separate entrances, through the Deli on Victoria Street and the Main Entrance on Allington Street.
Within the Deli space, there is provision for seating at window-facing benches as well as at the main counter in the evenings, allowing the space to provide for both dine-in and takeaway customers. The idea for this space was to use raw, honest, materials to create an atmosphere which reflects the provenance of the food being served. In the evening the Deli space evolves into a wine bar serving small plates.
“The entrance on Allington Street takes you directly to the Grand Café. This area has a dramatic central bar which dominates the middle of the space, banquet seating located around the perimeter. A key feature is the bespoke three-faced clock, a contemporary nod to the railway cafes of the past. The palette is light, feminine and romantic.”
Both areas have been designed to create an atmosphere where customers can drop in for a quick sandwich and coffee or a full meal. D&D did not want the design to radiate exclusivity, something Alan and his team kept in mind. He continued:
“The first floor restaurant is more exposed to the movement and vibrancy of the surrounding streetscape, which provides a change in tempo from the ground floor. The space features a central cocktail bar, which is set at two levels, with stools on one side and a raised seating area wrapping around the other. The back of cocktail bar is dual aspect, creating a view from the private dining room behind, out into the main space. This allows the PDR to feel linked to the energy and activity of the main restaurant.”
“The central raised seating area creates a tiered, almost amphitheatre-like effect, allowing diners on the raised area can see out over the perimeter tables, to take full advantage of the views. We wanted people to feel the energy of what’s happening outside.”
The staircase linking the two floors is one of the main features of the space and can be linked back to the horticulture from which Aster takes its name. The dramatic perforated design of the screen on the staircase is taken from microscopic photographs of the stems of flowers with Alan explaining:
“The screen runs continuously from the ground to the first floor, providing a visual and conceptual link between the spaces. The staircase screen design is inspired by the patterns found in the stems of flowers when observed under a microscope and aims to evoke the experience of travelling through the dappled light of a canopy of trees, whilst on a train journey. The perforated pattern is also reminiscent of the radial pattern of galaxies. These elements all link together the concept of Aster (the flower) and Aster Nova (the star)”.
Throughout the year Aster will be hosting a number of unique events. Attendees to the ‘Series of Senses’ events will be served a five course meal created to take the recipient on a journey of the senses. Yoga lunches bring together the relaxation and meditation of vinyasa yoga with Aster’s food.
There is no doubt that Aster’s impressive interior is matched by the development in which it is housed. Nova is a mixed use scheme comprising five buildings contained within a pedestrianised, landscaped public space opposite Victoria mainline railway station. In the heart of London’s world famous West End, Nova houses 603,000 square feet of Grade A office space, 193,000 square feet of high quality apartments and 85,000 square feet of restaurants, eateries, bars and retail.
Nova Food brings together some of London’s most exciting dining experiences to provide an eclectic mix of foody delights. 170 apartments of the highest specification have also been created using the finest quality materials and design. Two separate buildings, Nova North and Nova South house the extensive office space on offer. The working environments have been designed to enhance wellbeing and productivity.
Reflecting on the project Alan concluded:
“We’ve worked with D&D on a number of previous projects and have really enjoyed our continued relationship. D&D have a fantastic range of food and beverage offers throughout their portfolio, so it’s always a great privilege to be involved across such a breadth of projects. It’s a great honour to have worked on such a prestigious project for D&D who are so hugely influential in the London restaurant scene and beyond.”
Russell Sage Studio specialises in creating interiors that are timeless, beautiful, hard wearing and functional. Each individual design produced by Russell Sage has a unique story and a strong sense of purpose as well as being rich in character and littered with delicate detail.
With a wealth of experience and knowledge of the hospitality industry, the firm has delivered on a wide variety of projects blending stunning design with the practical needs of the client. In addition to working on Aster, Russell Sage Studio worked on The Grain Store in Kings Cross, Bread Street Kitchen in St. Paul’s and the redesign of The Savoy Grill.
D&D London is a group of luxury restaurants, bars and hotels based primarily in London, but also with venues in Paris, New York and Tokyo. Following a buyout of Conran Restaurants, D&D London was founded by Des Gunewardena and David Loewi in 2006. In the ten years since, the brand has been responsible for the creation of some of the capitals most popular establishments including Quaglino’s, Le Pont de la Tour, Bluebird and Coq d’Argent.
Botanica and Iconic in Tokyo, Alcazar in Paris and Guastavinos in New York are the four international restaurants D&D currently operates. The company made further inroads into the hospitality industry in 2012 when South Place Hotel opened in the East End of London. Boasting 80 luxurious rooms, bespoke artwork and a Michelin-starred seafood restraint, the hotel has won numerous awards during its operation.
For more information on Aster, please visit: www.aster-restaurant.com.
Concept Bars is a pure bar specialist, providing high quality functional bars for the hospitality industry. The company consults, designs, manufactures, supplies and installs products and has been in operation for 26 years.
Past projects for Concept Bars have included The Carnegie Club at Skibo Castle, 28/50, The Artesian Bar at The Langham Hotel, Harborne Kitchen, The London Coliseum, Duck & Waffle, Belgraves Hotel and The German Gymnasium, amongst others. Most recently, Concept Bars has been involved with Aster – a fantastic new restaurant from D&D London.
Working on Aster, Concept Bars were responsible for the supply of the bespoke stainless steel underbar system, bespoke bar refrigeration, bespoke inset drip trays and a food display.
Neil Coombes, Group Commercial Director for Concept Bars, said:
“We pride ourselves on our ability to provide all our clients with functional bars which meet their requirements. Over the years, we have had the pleasure of working with D&D London on all of their sites, so we understand their specific needs.”
“At Concept Bars, we pride ourselves not only on the quality of our product and our service, but also on our ability to listen to our clients. If necessary, we will say if something doesn’t work, or simply can’t be done, and if this is the case, we advise accordingly, ensuring the project can be brought home on time and on budget.”
Dodds & Shute
Dodds & Shute are a design led procurement practice specialising in hotels, restaurants, bars and residential projects. The practice has an extensive knowledge of the furniture and lighting markets, which grants them the ability to save their clients time and money. With a comprehensive portfolio of products and exciting designs they can find solutions for their clients regardless of the budget/style.
D&D London are a very important client for Dodds & Shute and one they’ve worked with on Orrery, German Gymnasium, South Place Hotel and Butlers Wharf Chop House. Other clients include The Doyle Collection (Marylebone Hotel), Groucho Club, Soho House, Jamie’s Italian and Chatham Historic Dockyard.
Nick Shute, Creative Director of Dodds & Shute, said:
“We were appointed by D&D to work with Russell Sage and his design team to find interesting ideas within budget.
“D&D are integral to London’s restaurant scene and operate some of its best restaurants. Aster, prominently situated in the new Nova development, will be a real boost to the Victoria area. It was a great opportunity for us to be involved in this project and to work with the very talented team at Russell Sage.”
“We are a young, hardworking and enthusiastic team – we pride ourselves on our knowledge and service. Our clients appreciate the value we add and as a result we benefit from a good reputation in the industry, repeat business and referrals from happy customers.”
UHS is a leading supplier in the hospitality industry for furniture and has been involved in many prestigious projects supplying a great range of products that are fit for purpose, design led and customised to clients requirements.
UHS work very closely with restaurant and hotel brands to ensure that the look and feel they want is brought out in the styles and designs of furniture from their comprehensive collections.
Dan Gillmore of UHS, said:
“We have worked with D&D on a number of sites and understand they have a great quality brand with high expectations for the interiors. Our products have once again been part of this look, with the design team specifying some great materials and finishes. This is definitely on the cards for a visit!”
SHW Design specialise in food & beverage design work for hotels, restaurants, corporate projects and attractions. The company has been in operation since 2002 and within this time has worked on a range of projects, including The Wolseley, Brasserie Zédel, The Beaumont, Colbert, Fischer and Bellanger for Corbin and King Ltd; Dinner by Heston (London & Melbourne) for Heston Blumenthal; the Tate Modern; Four Seasons 10 Trinity Sq.; Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park; One Aldwych Hotel; ING and Rio Tinto.
Most recently, SHW Design has been involved with Aster for D&D London. Working on this project, SHW Design was responsible for the design and specification of the kitchens and deli.
Gareth Sefton, SHW Design, said:
“We value our involvement with this project as D&D are a highly reputable restaurant business.”
“At SHW Design we pride ourselves on our creativity.”