Mark Ludmon visits 100 Wardour Street – D&D London’s destination for food, drinks and music on an iconic Soho site
The address of 90 to 100 Wardour Street in the heart of Soho in London has had a colourful history. In the 1960s, it became home to the legendary Marquee Club where many of the biggest names in music performed until the late 1980s, from The Rolling Stones, The Who, Jimi Hendrix and David Bowie through to Duran Duran and U2. More recently, the main underground space was filled with rum and the Latin sounds of Floridita, the restaurant, bar and entertainment venue, with Indian restaurant Carom on the ground floor. After 11 years, operator D&D London decided to call time on Floridita after it suffered fire damage and, in January, it unveiled a new incarnation, simply named 100 Wardour St.
The new-look bar, restaurant and music venue has a relaxed, contemporary look, with a touch of glamour and US West Coast style. With a more open layout, it features 100 Wardour Lounge on the ground floor for cocktails and casual dining and 100 Wardour Club for slightly more formal dining and live music downstairs, both open till late Monday to Saturday.
D&D London has once again worked with leading design firm Russell Sage Studio which has created striking interiors for many of its sites including the revamp of restaurant and bar Quaglino’s in St James’s. For the Lounge on the ground floor, they have devised a relaxed, sophisticated setting, with an island bar at its centre, lit from above by a feature glass chandelier designed by Isabel Hamm.
The Lounge (pictured top and above) is filled with different areas of eclectic furniture, from dining tables and banquettes to comfy Kilim sofas and armchairs, mixing patterns and textures with bold colours. Pieces include Epsom solid oak table tops and button-backed Brompton chairs from UHS Group to add to the “club” feel. This contrasts with concrete finishes to building columns and floors to create a light loft-like feel in a space that gets no natural light apart from a conservatory-like area by the entrance. Limed oak is used for the ceiling and the parquet floor which features mosaic inlay.
A highlight is the Playroom (pictured below) – a semi-private space featuring a billiards table that can be turned into a long table for private dining and meetings. Decorated with antiques and elegantly distressed wallpaper by Blackpop, it is described as a “gentleman’s games room”. The Lounge as a whole has been designed to be flexible, suited to late-night partying as much as daytime working from 11am opening, with wifi and plenty of plug sockets for laptops.
The grand circular staircase down to the basement remains along with the stage and the large bar stretching along one side, with its own seating area – a layout that will be familiar to fans of Floridita (pictured below). The Club has a more playful, speakeasy style, according to Russell Sage Studio, including wooden rafting and velvet banquettes in Persian rug style by Mulberry. With 425 covers and a 870-capacity, the space is much more open than before but with zones for relatively quieter dining away from the stage area. Open from 5pm to 3am, it features a daily line-up of established and up-and-coming acts as well as DJs stationed in a booth resembling a traditional book-keepers’ filing cabinet.
The drinks lists for the Lounge and Club have been put together under bars manager Stuart Finlay who has come over from the MGM Grand Las Vegas Hotel & Casino. Champagnes feature heavily on both lists, from Luc Belaire, Moët & Chandon and Veuve Clicquot up to Laurent Perrier Rosé, Dom Pérignon, Krug and Louis Roederer Cristal. A broad variety of wines feature on both menus, with the more extensive Club restaurant list categorising them under headings based on style such as aromatic, crisp, spicy and quirky.
Twisted classics and original recipes feature on the two different cocktail menus, both featuring bold flavours and luxurious serves and all priced at £10.50. In the Lounge, the Noir Desir combines Campari and premium orange and cognac liqueur Grand Marnier Cuvée du Centenaire with chocolate bitters, served with a ball of ice made with charcoal that adds softer notes and a darker hue as it melts. Many of the cocktails take inspiration from the arts and Soho, such as the Banksy which mixes Johnnie Walker Black Label whisky, white cacao liqueur, basil syrup and lemon juice plus a dash of pineapple juice.
On both floors, you can enjoy the Jalisco Farmer, made with El Jimador tequila, Xante cognac pear liqueur, lemon juice, apple juice, pear puree and cardamom syrup. In the Lounge, a range of smoothies, coffees and teas are aimed at daytime drinkers, available with bar snacks or the main menus for late breakfast, lunch and dinner. A more luxurious menu is on offer downstairs, served until 2am, with signature dishes including whole shoulder of suckling pig with grilled endive and orange designed to be shared at the table. It has been developed under executive chef Liam Smith-Laing, formerly of La Petite Maison in Mayfair, featuring simple, fresh ingredients, inspired by the Mediterranean. Much of the cooking relies on the hot coals of both an open robata grill and a Josper oven.
Having operated the site since 2004, D&D London hopes 100 Wardour St will maintain its “iconic” status, says chairman and CEO Des Gunewardena. “100 Wardour St has a great history, and we think that its new incarnation will keep the venue firmly at the centre of what is happening in Soho. All-day dining in clubby, informal environments is increasingly what Londoners are looking for, and of course music will continue to be a big part of the place.”
100 Wardour St, 100 Wardour Street, London W1F 0TN
Tel: 020 7314 4000
Behind the scenes
Design: Russell Sage Studio
Furniture: UHS Group
Tiles: Solus Ceramics
Lounge seating: Kilim
Chandelier: Isabel Hamm
Artwork: Les Biggs, Tripp Gallery
Playroom wallpaper: Blackpop
Decorating services: PA Schofield
Originally published in the April 2016 print edition of Bar magazine.