Paddington’s dining options tend to concentrate at the pub/café or fine dining ends of the food spectrum, leaving slim pickings for patrons keen on a reasonably priced meal in a casual, conversational environment.
Recognising this gap Ben May and Andrew Stanway, owners and managers of the London Tavern, set about converting an underutilised event space on the first floor of the pub into a mid-range restaurant, and decided to execute the majority of the design, and a good part of the execution, themselves.
The concept for the design makes excellent use of the inherent virtues of the structure; as May says, “I wanted to strip it back to make it raw and edgy highlighting the original characteristics of the building.”
These included particularly attractive features such as convict-era brickwork, (revealed after stripping back the overlying paint), cornices, arches and original timber windows. The mixture of raw, unfinished brick and weathered timber detailing with the more decorative architectural elements creates a pleasing balance of rustic and refined details, preparing a canvas for May and Stanway to complete with furniture and lighting.
Vintage industrial neon lights from Germany and aged mirror and brass add a welcome visual highlight to the timber and brick textures, and simple tables and seating are animated by denim seat covers and galvanized iron bench tops.
The layout of the rooms creates a good flow between different areas, and numerous windows and two outdoor spaces open and lighten the space, making it feel surprisingly airy for a building of its era.
These interiors are coupled with a simple, focused food and beverage concept – a handful of house-special cocktails prepared with expertise, quaffable wine (served in tumblers), and a blackboard-menu of dishes made from local, seasonal produce. Particular highlights include roast spatchcock, prosciutto, sage and soft polenta and seared tuna, roast beetroot, chickpeas, and labneh.
Overall, the London Fields has been successful at its balancing act, catering its environment as well as its fare to hover in that elusive space that is both reasonable yet refined, both curated yet casual.
Photography: Trevor King