Soho House doesn’t do things by halves. You only have to look at the rapid expansion of the private members’ club over the past few years, which includes its vast Soho Farmhouse set in 100 acres of Oxfordshire countryside, to understand the scale of its ambitions.
And then there’s hotel company Sydell Group, owner of a number of hotels across the US known for their locations, architecture and buzz. Sydell’s portfolio includes NoMad in New York, the hotel at which Daniel Humm and Will Guidara, owners of the world’s best restaurant no less, run the food operation, and Line in LA, which features two restaurants by celebrated Korean American chef Roy Choi.
But what happens when Soho House and Sydell Group decide to bring their creative heads together and collaborate on a project?
What will two groups, known as much for their big thinking as their big spending, come up with when they join forces? The answer is The Ned.
Fours years in the making, and at a reported cost of £200m, The Ned is no small undertaking. The 11-floor hotel on the site of the former Midland Bank in the City of London (named in honour of the building’s architect, Edward Lutyens) comprises 252 bedrooms, a rooftop pool, subterranean pool, barbershop and spa and an entire floor given over to events space.
It also marks a change of tack for Soho House, with the joint venture meaning The Ned has a separate membership from its other houses. The financial fraternity, which Soho House has actively steered away from up until now, makes up a third of its membership, which is not surprising given its location.
Soho House’s more traditional clientele is still there – a third of its members come from the creative industry – with the other third comprising people from education and healthcare sectors, among others, it says.
Yet it is The Ned’s food and drink offer that really makes it stand out, with the sprawling 320,000sq ft former banking hall on the ground floor home to eight restaurants (a ninth is on the roof). Unique, not just because it marks the simultaneous creation of eight new restaurant concepts (one of its restaurants, Cecconi’s, already exists) but because of the listed nature of the building that prevents the creation of interior walls.
This means the ground floor of The Ned resembles as much a super high-end food court as it does a collection of separate restaurants – the likes of which London has never seen before.
What is it: A 16-cover Parisian-style café serving coffee, breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The food: Cafe Sou is not one for vegans. There’s an egg-centric menu that majors on omelettes. Two chefs will cook them to order on induction hobs, with diners given a choice of protein – cured ham, smoked salmon, turkey breast, maple cured streaky bacon, cheddar – and a selection of five different vegetables and five different herbs. Cafe Sou is also making quiche sexy again, with Lorraine, Florentine and Provençale options available at £4 a slice.
The quirk: Soho House has collaborated with chef and food writer Rachel Khoo – she of The Little Paris Kitchen book and TV fame. Khoo has worked on the menus and will also conduct various cooking masterclasses.
What is it: An all-day Venetian brasserie, serving northern Italian dishes.
The food: The menu is a run through of many classic Italian dishes, not least tagliatelle bolognese, veal milanese, beef and veal meatballs and minestrone. There’s also pizzette and pizza, which are cooked in the restaurant’s huge and very impressive wood-fired ovens.
The quirk: Cecconi’s is the only established restaurant brand to feature in The Ned – as well as the flagship Cecconi’s restaurant in Mayfair it has outposts in west Hollywood, Miami Beach, Berlin, Barcelona and Istanbul.
What is it: A wood-panelled steakhouse of the old-school mould for members and hotel guests only.
The food: The grill’s focus will be on serving a selection of cuts from rare breeds, such as Dexter, Hereford and Wagyu. Cuts will include on-the bone rib-eye, tomahawk and porterhouse steaks as well as fillet, sirloin, rump and bavette. The restaurant will also have a gueridon trolley with a daily changing meat and fish offer, with rack of English rose veal on Tuesdays and slow-roast porchetta gracing Thursday’s trolley.
The quirk: Lutyens Grill is located in a room once used as the bank manager’s office, so expect it to have the whiff of money about it.
What is it: A Jewish-style New York deli that it the closest thing Londoners will have to the famous Katz’s Deli across the pond.
The food: There’s soups, salads and ‘potato noshes’ (knish, latkes, French fries) on the menu but what Zobler’s specialises in is sandwiches. Three styles are on offer – egg and cheese, smoked fish, and meat – with sandwiches such as the Broadway Special (eggs, house pastrami and pickled green tomato on a challah roll); Lower East Side (smoked salmon, cream cheese, red onion, tomato and capers on a bagel); and Zobler’s Reuben (house corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing on rye). Expect to see The Skyscraper – a towering meat-filled sandwich – on Instagram soon.
The quirk: Zobler’s is named after Andrew Zobler, who founded Sydell Group in 2005.
What is it: An Asian-Pacific-inspired restaurant serving healthy food. The restaurant is divided into two; a 16-seat take-out counter opposite Café Sou and a 100-cover main dining space
The food: Soho House and Sydell are pinning their colours to the current trend for poké, the Hawaiian dish made from raw fish, but with a twist. That twist is the restaurant’s huge robata grill that will mean that alongside the more traditional poké bowls of ahi tuna, salmon and tofu, diners will be able to pimp a steamed rice bowl with the likes of chicken yakitori, lamb chops, wagyu beef sticks and miso black cod.
The quirk: Instagrammer Clerkenwell Boy has had a hand in Kaia’s creation, having consulted on its design and menu.
What is it: With 178 covers, Millie’s is the largest restaurant in The Ned. Open 24 hours a day, it is likely to give Duck & Waffle a run for its money for late-night, early-hours dining in the City.
The food: Head chef Jason Loy spent seven years at Dean Street Townhouse, and he’s borrowed a few dishes from the Soho restaurant for Millie’s, including its mince and potatoes dish. The menu is hearty and crowd pleasing, in keeping with the restaurant’s all-day offer, with cheeseburger and chips, fish and chips, steak and chips and roast chicken (not served with chips) all on offer. As with other restaurants in The Ned, there will also be a daily special, such as various pies and sausage and mash, and an afternoon tea menu.
The quirk: Millie’s pays homage to St Mildred’s Church, which occupied The Ned’s site until the Great Fire of London in 1666.
What is it: A bright, open-plan restaurant at the Poultry side of The Ned that promises to bring a slice of California to London.
The food: Healthy ingredients du jour abound on the menu, so you’re never far away from kale, courgette ribbons, taro chips and, of course, avocado. The menu is divided into first bites; raw and cured; salads; vegetables, seeds and grains; and fish and meat sections, with dishes ranging from the overtly healthy salad of curly kale with red pecans, apple, radish, sprouts, ginger and miso and the bang on-trend cured ham with melon, bee pollen and chilli to the more familiar, in the form of a cheeseburger.
The quirk: Malibu Kitchen was initially conceived as Japanese grill restaurant Pen Yen, but this was then instead installed in Soho Farmhouse, leaving the team to consider different options for the space.
Photo: The huge vault door at The Ned
The Nickel Bar
What is it: The central feature of The Ned’s sprawling ground floor, this 100-cover restaurant and bar serves classic US diner food and American beers.
The food: The Nickel Bar is all about familiar US dishes, with sliders and buns – brisket; maple bacon; oyster po’boy – mac ’n’ cheese, and a Philly chilli cheese dog all on the menu. Its beer friendly food also includes tortilla chips with guacamole, chicken wings, toasted truffled cheese fingers and shrimp cocktail bites, available as single dishes and as sharing platters.
The quirk: Central to The Nickel Bar is a stage that will host live music performances.
Ned’s Club Upstairs
What is it: The Ned’s rooftop members restaurant and bar with views over the City of London.
The food: The menu has a European feel suited to lazy long days in the sunshine, powered mainly by its rotisserie, grill and wood oven. Snacks include salami pizzetta, padron peppers and grilled squid while the tight selection of starters is just four strong – asparagus and duck egg; tuna crudo; king scallops; and steak tartare. Main options are more plentiful, with a wagyu burger; lobster and chips; sirloin steak and rotisserie chicken on offer, among others.
The quirk: It may not rival that of Shoreditch House, but Ned’s Club’s 20-metre rooftop pool will be a very welcome addition when the mercury rises.
This article originally appeared in the May 2017 issue of Restaurant Magazine, and was adapted for the web by Hannah Thompson. Subscribe to Restaurant Magazine from just £63 here!