Brummell recommends: Lavo

A leafy Mediterranean terrace in the heart of central London where Rome meets Los Angeles

Food and Drink 19 Jun 2024

Hamachi crudo at Lavo

Hamachi crudo at Lavo

The background

Nestled between Marylebone and Mayfair, Lavo has landed in London at the newly opened BoTree Hotel. After New York, Los Angeles and Singapore, the Tao Group has chosen the heart of the glamorous West End for its new flagship, which has already become a favourite among the fashion crowd (Jared Leto, Naomi Campbell, Michaela Coel and Winnie Harlow were spotted at the opening party last September). The restaurant offers an Italian-inspired menu with a contemporary American twist, preserving a vivacious Mediterranean identity. ‘We wanted to create a dining experience honouring classic Italian dishes while incorporating bold flavours and innovative techniques that resonate with contemporary palates,’ head chef Stefano Lorenzini tells us.

Lavo London
Lavo London

The space

As we pass through the stylish lobby, the hotel reveals its quirky and sophisticated character. We are welcomed to the bar area on a cosy terrace overlooking the larger dining room on the floor below. Walking down the stairs, an abundance of Mediterranean greenery fills the space, offering a sensory escape to a midsummer night in a southern Italian masseria. The biophilic extravaganza continues with an olive tree, situated under a skylight next to the pizza counter, surrounded by a verdant, full-length living wall feature. Elsewhere, a fleur-de-lis motif recurs throughout the upholstery and wallpaper, echoing the sculptural installation by the artist Dorian Van Braam on the upper floor, while a vibrant splash of colour is added to the décor by the graffiti-inspired artworks of Jesse Grylls.

Lobster all'arrabbiata garnished with Calabrian chilli butter
Lobster all’arrabbiata garnished with Calabrian chilli butter

The food

We start with the delicate and refreshing hamachi crudo, thickly sliced and served with bronze fennel, Sicilian orange and yellow peppers. Our other starter is grilled octopus on a bed of potatoes, celery, black olives and cipollini onions. The tentacles are tender and perfectly charcoal-smoked, with no hint of rubbery texture. Then on to the mains: first a veal chop, the Cotoletta Milanese coming with crispy sage, rocket and chamomile. Generous in size but not intimidatingly so, this buttery staple of northern Italian cuisine strikes the right balance between crunchiness and juiciness. This is joined by the lobster all’arrabbiata garnished with Calabrian chilli butter. Slow-cooked with sun-dried tomato and oregano, the dish is succulent and intensely flavourful. As chef Lorenzini says, the use of premium Italian ingredients makes the difference: ‘From artisanal cheeses and cured meats to premium olive oils and aged balsamic vinegar, each imported product is carefully selected to uphold the rich culinary traditions of Italy.’

Grilled octopus on a bed of potatoes, celery, black olives and cipollini onions
Grilled octopus on a bed of potatoes, celery, black olives and cipollini onions

Dessert wraps the meal up with a theatrical note. Amaretto gelato, served on a smoky oversized ice cube with hot espresso poured from the caffettiera at the table –the iPhones all duly come out to film the show. Thanks to the restaurant’s sommelier, our meal is perfectly paired with a Barbera d’Asti, a red wine from Piedmont whose silky-smooth finish works amazingly with the mains.

The bill

A meal including an appetiser, main course and dessert comes to around £110 per person, excluding drinks.

The verdict

A modern and playful take on classic Italian recipes might challenge the more traditionalist eaters, however, a friendly service, unpretentious plating and generous portions bring together an overall laid-back yet tasteful dining experience. The room was in full swing, with high spirits and many birthday celebrations happening during the night.