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Forget the ocean, Neptune - the Roman God of the sea - now prefers to dwell not ten thousand leagues under the sea, but underneath the red brick and mortar that is The Kimpton Fitzroy Hotel, in Bloomsbury.
Of course, we’re not really suggesting that the trident-wielding deity has chosen to settle in the city, but we are talking about his namesake restaurant, Neptune, co-founded by this week’s tastemakers Margaret Crow and Brett Redman - and, as St.Valentine swings his happy Hallmark head around the corner this week, we thought we’d learn a thing or two from the love story of Neptune and Salacia in the process. About how, with the right balance of persistence and chastening, (and wine and fine dining) dating can be a breeze.
Only nine months old, Neptune is already one of London’s most stylish hotspots, though this consensus is unsurprising. Dreamt up by old friends Margaret Crow and Brett Redman, and described as a reincarnation of The Richmond - the Hackney-based restaurant that Crow and Redman co-founded in 2015 - the duo’s roles in creating the perfect dining experience are more than complimentary. There are three integral aspects to Margaret’s role: “creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere, ensuring optimal mood lighting, and understanding how guests want to feel on any given occasion.”
Though she had always been obsessed with food, Margaret’s previous career successes come from the fashion world. An accomplished stylist, she spent time on staff at a variety of different magazines including i-D and Vogue. Starting out, however, interning on the Observer Food Monthly, Margaret had always wanted to shift her focus back onto food and when The Richmond presented itself, she knew it was time to make it happen. Obsessed with hosting, Margaret’s key responsibility is the guest experience as she creatively directs every aspect of the room and service - if vibe control were a sport, she’d be the Olympic champion.
Brett is the brain behind the menu, his ongoing endeavours have him oversee three other restaurants besides Neptune - Pavillion in Victoria Park, Jidori restaurant in Dalston and Covent garden and Elliot’s in Bethnal Green and Borough Market - for which he won a Michelin Bib Gourmand in its first year, and one for every year it’s been open thereafter; a total of 8 so far.
Looking to focus on presenting quality dishes from independent suppliers, who all champion British produce, like fish sourced directly from boats in Cornwall or dry-aged beef from the Yorkshire Dales. The three integral aspects to Brett’s role: “sourcing honest, high-quality produce, treating it in the best way possible, and understanding what guests want to eat.” They have created a completely new seafood-focused menu for Neptune, featuring Brett’s signature wood-fired cooking in the extensive a la carte menu and based it around an informal approach to the classic oyster bar which has always been a dream feature of Brett and Margaret.
Though they have seemingly dominated across the creative industries and boroughs of London, both Margaret and Brett are not native to the big smoke. Margaret was born in Texas, USA and moved to London to study at London College of Fashion after going to boarding school in Scotland. Brett moved to London from Sydney to work in hospitality and open his own restaurants after training to be a chef at some of Sydney’s top restaurants including Marque and Four in Hand Bistro.
Literally rose-tinted, as the warm peach coloured walls and ceiling offset the velvet and bronze furnishings, Neptune is an environment created for memory making and the rich history of the dining room is tangible. The space was originally designed by architect Charles Fitzroy Doll and is almost identical to the dining room of his crowning masterpiece, the RMS Titanic - the association with the most infamous ship in history ironically inspired the name of the restaurant.
Now the walls are adorned with artworks from an ongoing exhibition series curated by Antonia Marsh. The first artist to display works at Neptune is emerging painter George Rouy, known for his charged, hypnotic paintings of figures, flora and fauna.
A fine dining experience, Neptune is the perfect place to spend Valentine’s day, and the best thing is that it’s on dry land, so will only end up as a shipwreck if one doesn’t follow the stellar dating advice from Margaret and Brett in this week’s video.
Drawing upon the courtship of Neptune and Salacia, where Neptune had to send a dolphin to find Salacia after she ran away to the Atlantic ocean to flee from him, the non-creepy aspects of their story we thought might be a good place to start when approaching the treacherous territory that is “dating”. Watch the film now and read on to step inside Neptune this week - you never know, maybe you’ll learn a thing or two about dating in the process, need we mention the aphrodisiac qualities of certain shellfish?
By Kezia Navey for Semaine.
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Ariosto Pouf with Compartment by Cristina Celestino for Attico Design
Thorny Oyster Shell Partially Silvered on the Inside
Bridget herringbone velvet slip dress
Oyster Knife with Pair of Gloves Anti Daily Cuts Level 5 Protection EN 388 Certified (Kitchen, Gardening, DIY)
The Ladybird Book of Dating
Unity Mirror, Half Circle
Set of 1970's Willy Rizzo Brass Chairs
Hot Pink Taper Candles
Moon Snail Cupboard Door Knob
Ruched cotton & PVC kitten-heel mules
Oval Huggie with Swiss Blue Topaz 9-karat solid yellow gold
Thanks to Margaret's eagle eye for both antique and modern furnishings, she's nailed the optimal feel-good vibe that you'd expect from one of London's most stylish restaurants, but how does one replicate that for their home? Look no further. These items are sure to make entertaining easy.
Set the Vibe
Margaret goes by the age-old saying, "if all else fails, put on D'Angelo" to create a vibe. Try out this playlist to see if her theory is correct.
Travel With Your Tastebuds
Hailing from two different continents to the one on which they co-founded a restaurant, Brett and Margaret's travel experiences are a good excuse to take to the world with your taste buds at the ready. This selection of destinations will have you in a state of wanderlust, and potentially salivating a tiny bit.
Marina Pyjama Set
Where Chefs Eat: A Guide to Chefs' Favourite Restaurants (Third Edition)
The Neptune interiors are very much inspired by the legendary style of British interior designer David Nightingale Hicks who was famed for his bold use of colour and mixing antique and modern furnishings. A floor-to-ceiling wash of warm peach covers the room, and along with bronze mirrors creates a flattering sepia-tinted atmosphere. A two-tone geometric wooden parquet floor is inspired by Hicks’s famous corridor carpet in Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’. It's truly a breathtaking space where every corner has been thoughtfully arranged to stay on theme.
Spaghetti with Poole Clams, Squid, Lemon & Parsley
It's not often Brett reveals the precious secrets that are his recipes. Here is a delicious recipe that fully showcases the delights of Neptune and you can recreate it for yourself at home.
*200g cleaned squid
*200ml extra virgin olive oil
*125ml dry white wine
*1/2 bunch of parsley
*8 cloves of garlic
To prepare the sauce peel and thinly slice the garlic. Cook gently with half a chilli in 100ml of the olive oil until translucent but not brown.
Discard the chilli and add the clams & white wine.
Cover for 30 secs to a minute until all the clams are open. Add the finely sliced squid, zest from the lemon and the finely chopped parsley to the pan.
Cook the spaghetti in plenty of salted boiling water and drain ready to toss through the sauce.
Add the spaghetti, turn the heat back on low and toss all together to warm through and coat the spaghetti in the sauce.
The films picks from Brett and Margaret that will have you longing for a better snack than the measly bag of popcorn you just prepared. "SO visceral you can taste the passion! Forbidden romance, accidental witchcraft, and a lot of sizzle." Magaret says of Alfonso Arau's Like Water for Chocolate.