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Blixen, London

07/12/2015

Located in an old Bank in Spitalfields, the site itself is well chosen.  Huge windows at the front of the restaurant mean lots of natural light for the dining room and a rear terrace extending into Spitalfields market gives the overall space an outside/inside vibe.  The basement has a cosy, no reservations bar for up to 45 and a PDR housed in an old vault.

 Everything about Blixen is welcoming, from the friendly and knowledgeable staff to warm lighting and the array of fixed seating.  Despite the bank setting, it doesn’t feel at all formal.

 The design reflects the era of grand European brasseries, whilst using reclaimed elements to add an edge. The overall effect is one of relaxed luxury.  Lights are handcrafted and often bespoke from designers such as Naomi Paul, tabletops are marble edged in brass or rich mahogany. Floral side plates add a decorative & vintage touch to the place settings.  These look particularly strong in contrast to a distressed zinc dining bar that runs the length of the open kitchen.

 The floor plan is inventive and offers different layers of seating.   A raised area at the front has a banquette running the length of the façade wall.  A further curved banquette creates a cosy central seating area housing larger 4’s and 6’s. Both of these banquettes are upholstered in rich, buttery leathers.  Half height walls on two sides of the central area allow for more fixed seating, although harder in style with slatted timber seats and backs.  The walls themselves have a distressed white brick finish.

 The wall opposite the bar has yet more fixed seating culminating in some booths on a raised platform that almost look colonial in style with cane backs and wrapover duck egg leather upholstery.  This area sits under an internal pergola strewn with trailing plants, announcing the terrace beyond. Lots of painted white bench seating with loose cushions and a circular seating area that wraps around a tree at bar height.  Planting and vintage elements are found throughout.

 Both the ceiling and waiter stations are clad in distressed timber.  Flooring changes from timber to tiling – the tiles all edged by brass.

 The bar is classic in style with a timber panelled front & marble top.  The back bar consists of back lit timber cabinets holding bottles and some props such as vintage radios and antiques. Classic art deco globes hang above and a bulkhead adds interest with a criss-cross timber pattern.

 The food was delicious and will definitely lead to repeat visits, perhaps to enjoy that terrace for brunch in the sun…..they also do a mean Bloody Mary.

 The partnership between Clive Watson and Justin Gilbert goes from strength to strength it seems.

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