House & Garden | Diary of a Somebody

Tara Bernerd

The design consultant on the endless pleasure of restaurants

Tara Bernerd

December 03 2011
Tara Bernerd

Day: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

As the working week draws to a close, I am already anticipating quite a week myself next week. Therefore in preparation for this it meant a fair bit to review. The three brothers, our clients for the yacht, arrive next Friday for a key presentation and this means a detailed run-through of said presentation.

On a personal note, suffice to say I have had my own challenges and am certainly sparing you, the reader, from this; however, with my own move imminent, I have quite a bit to organise and the aim is to get this done swiftly. After all, in my world moving home and organising another ought to happen faultlessly and I have to say we as a team are a little like the SAS Squad of Design in terms of getting missions accomplished.

Today I was at Cassis, the bistro on Brompton Road we designed for Marlon Abela, my dear friend and client. Marlon’s company MARC restaurants owns a unique collection across town, each quite different, and if you look closely you’ll spot his touch, a passion for food, art and wine. The others include The Greenhouse, Umu (the extraordinary Japanese on Bruton Place), Morton’s and several A Voce restaurants in New York.

Cassis, the most recent addition, is light in atmosphere, bistro-flavoured and the food is very good, delicious home-cooked French-style, moules, bouillabaisse, meats and I was there to consider if the restaurant demands any additional touches, such as accessories, or certain maturing qualities, as its own character grows. It was decided that I would move a blackboard and, having found a great old clock at a market recently, we would add this.

February is also on my list as I will be hosting a party at Cassis with Patrick Cox for reasons like birthdays, the “why not?” and a general excuse for a great gathering! So I was also checking maximum numbers for a cosy sit-down dinner of 80.

Similarly to hotels, restaurants absorb and fascinate me. Constant travelling has allowed me to continuously see more, study designs, absorb atmospheres and frankly it only seems to intrigue me more. I must be the perfect date!

In New York the style of restaurants such as the Waverly Inn, Pastis, Balthazar and Minetta Tavern, all Keith McNally’s, are just the perfect mix of vintage and very today; they are layered and depict to me downtown New York. The Lion has a similar flavour, great art, handsome waiters, and they ooze atmosphere.

I could go on and on, as I am hooked. André Balazs, my king of cool, has once again triumphed with The Standard Bar and Grill and The Mercer remains destination number one. Lure Fishbar across the road has a super menu and the feel of a Riva, yet it works and they do great bars. Cipriani continues and allows me to use this global brand to bring you back to London also kicking on the restaurant front.

With a new downtown Cips, it’s rare that our town gets a look-in past Richard Caring who, with Nick Jones, seemingly has the monopoly. His Mayfair of the set (other than of course all the Soho House collections) must be the pride and joy of Mount Street – Scott’s, where lunches, dinners and summer evenings are always buzzing; the team are as great, as its style.

My breakfast and lunch favourite during the week, however, remains The Wolseley, the dominating, chic-as-it-gets, stately food emporium of Jeremy King and Chris Corbin. The River Café, my ultimate for summer evenings and Sundays, Dock Kitchen and Petersham Nurseries are world winners.

Perhaps I should stop, as I am slightly obsessed with this and hotels as a topic. Don’t let me start on Hong Kong, Istanbul or Paris, each of which boasts a whole new menu of wonders. I am travelling to Hong Kong again later this month, for a wedding of a dear friend, and hopefully fit in some business meetings in Hong Kong and Macau.

This afternoon I was packing, as for the weekend I am a guest of The Dorchester and will be able to share with you a few glimpses of staying in a London hotel. As I checked into my room, which is terribly pretty, it feels more Downton Abbey than Park Lane. A truly charming room, with a four-poster bed, and when I called for a cup of camomile tea I half expected Carson to appear.

See also

People, Cassis