The much anticipated ‘Departmentstore of Dining’ – The Kitty Hawk – finally opened its doors to customers last Monday.
The first venture from the Wright & Bell Group is part of a multi-million pound development at River Plate House in South Place London, just around the corner from Moorgate Station and no more than five minutes from Liverpool Street. Wright & Bell are calling it a ‘Department Store of Dining’, a concept that means it caters to all of the city’s food lovers, day and night and all under one roof. Departments include a bar and kitchen area for all day dining and drinking from 7am to midnight, an elegant grill restaurant, a cocktail bar, a private dining room and a speciality coffee bar & patisserie, that will evolve at night into an intimate wine bar for private hire.
Each area offers a different experience, all with stunning interiors by renowned designer Russell Sage (Dishoom, The Grain Store) using exposed timber, blackened steel, copper, marble and hand-stitched leather seating.
We were among the lucky ones who were given a preview of things to come and we were very impressed with the venue, the food and staff, when we attended the VIP launch a couple of weeks ago.
The restaurant upstairs has a relaxed atmosphere with its curved creamy golden leather benches accommodating groups and tables for two, plenty of daylight and an open kitchen – the perfect space for casual meetings, long brunches, lazy lunches and after work drinks with light bites in the evening. Enjoy imaginatively topped hot or cold flatbreads baked in an Italian Firedome oven (the menu includes more traditional flavours like buffalo mozzarella & smoked tomatoes, but also Scottish salmon & broad bean, confit duck leg with sticky soy dressing and shredded lamb with smashed aubergine) or order a couple of the delicious sliders, like the Kitty Hawk Slider (cheese burger), steak burger & brie or Portobello mushroom & goat’s cheese slider. Other options include salads, soups, skewers and a seriously great British cheese platter, with cheeses you get to choose yourself.
Breakfast option include the classics like Eggs Benedict and the Kitty Hawk Full English (served with award-winning Ramsay of Carluke black pudding) and options of Ashdale minute steak with duck egg, Manx kipper & hash or toasted pecan & banana flatbread. Can’t decide? Why not come on a Saturday when brunch is served from 10am to 4pm? The Kitty Hawk also serves a classic Afternoon Tea with sandwiches, scones and cakes (weekdays 3pm-5pm, £16.95).
The bar, with its unique open fire place in the centre of the room, serves classic and innovative cocktails made from artisanal spirits, including an array of ‘bubbly’ cocktails made with champagne or prosecco. If you love gin & tonic, you are in luck; The Seven Deadly Gins – greed, wrath pride, sloth, lust, gluttony & envy – will give you a taste of craft gins from the UK, USA and Holland mixed with Fever Tree tonic and each one comes with its own special flavour, from lemon to blackberry and mint to rosemary. Cask and bottled craft beers and ciders on offer are Frontier Craft Lager, Peroni, Montana Red Ale, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Cornish Orchard Gold, London Pride, Freedom Authentic Lager, Gipsy Hill Brewing Co. Pale Ale, Hiver Honey Beer and Rothammer Brave Red Ale, with additional appearances of guest beers. Soft options include a range of lovely Luscome sparkling drinks.
The wine menu has been curated especially for each of the areas by Rothschild and Milton Sandford. Prices are really reasonable, from £5 per glass/ £19 per bottle, but if you have an expense account, you are also spoilt for choice. Order a magnum or one of the beautifully decorated three-litre Kitty Hawk Barrels filled with red or white wine from the award winning Chateau Pueche-Haut estate in Drézéry.
Walk down the stairs (or take the lift!) and you will find a restaurant serving up a more refined dining experience, making it the perfect place for a business lunch or a special occasion. It has an almost nautical feel, with its blue leather seats, heavy ropes woven into squares decorating the ceiling and swirly paintings on the walls.
Where upstairs caters equally to meat eaters and vegetarians, this is unashamedly a meat eaters’ paradise. One of the highlights here is the extensive steak menu, with the Ashdale 35-day aged beef provided by butchers Alec Jarrett from the West Country. At the launch we were given a master class in butchery showing us exactly how the different kinds of steak are cut. The meat was then prepared for us in the open kitchen and served with one of the excellent sauces you are able to choose from the menu (I loved the sautéed wild mushroom & mustard sauce).
Of course there are other options – from Barnsley chops to corn-fed chicken breast with citrus salsa, salt-baked sea bream to traditional cod & chips with pea purée. And I like the sound of the selection of starters, especially the smoked duck salad and the seared Brixham scallops.
The coffee bar & patisserie (Monday – Friday, 7am to 7pm) serves breakfasts and lunches, on the go or to eat in, artisan coffees, freshly-baked cakes, pastries and chocolates made in house by the resident classically trained pastry chef. By night, the space will transform into a wine bar for private hire and more intimate drinking experience.
The menu changes daily, according which ingredients are seasonal, but you might find salads like Tuscan panazella or coconut grilled chicken with fennel and pomegranate seeds on offer, as well as gourmet sandwiches like rare beef with truffle mayo and rocket pesto or roasted beetroot with feta cheese and basil mayo or why not go with a soup like clam chowder or roasted tomatoes with croutons. (If you do get an opportunity to try the tomato soup, please do! It’s the best tomato soup I have ever tasted). You can even order on-line in advance and just pop in to collect.
Jayne Baker, The Kitty Hawk’s Managing Director comments, “Wright & Bell is influenced by the great inventors of our past, Sir Alexander Graham Bell and the Wright Brothers, who dared to dream, and taught the world to fly. We are the creators and architects of “The Department Stores of Dining”, bringing together a dynamic mix of drinking, dining, working and retail experiences. Following The Kitty Hawk, we plan to develop six venues across the City of London and West End to bring a new elegance to the London market.”
The Kitty Hawk is available for private events, including its beautiful private dining room with its deep blue walls and wooden parquet floor, which seats twelve, and it is able to cater to nearby offices. Expert planners are on hand to help curate private events and Christmas bookings. For bookings, reservations and more information, please visit thekittyhawk.com.
And if you are wondering where the name The Kitty Hawk comes from: the Wright Brothers, Orville and Wilbur, tested their gliders in Kitty Hawk on the North Carolina Outer Banks, before their first successful flight with the Wright Flyer in Kill Devil Hills, just four miles south of Kitty Hawk, on December 17th 1903.
The Kitty Hawk
11, 13 &14 South Place