Appeals to: Fans of distinctly modern, distinctly British food & recipes. People in search of a nostalgic atmosphere. People who like ‘kitsch’. People who want a fun dining experience.
Living nearby to a neighbourhood of art galleries and high end retail outlets in Mayfair is where you’ll find Retro Feasts. It’s exact spot? Old Burlington Street, which is where it lives for the next 6 months…
The brainchild of Luke Thomas (rising culinary star and super young guy) and Mark Fuller, I’m already having a lot of fun writing about it, soon you’ll see why…
Sure, pop ups and ‘concept dining’ are all the rage now but these guys have definitely come up with an idea worth exploring (and one with quirks I find easy to write about!)
Part of the appeal of this place is the (anti)decor, which is a kitsch affair harking back to British culture, decades past. Though I think a little before my time for me to fully appreciate it, the design definitely helps to set the mood and show you that these guys are under no threat of taking themselves too seriously. Which is marvellous.
So, amongst the various anti-seriousness features… think a football table by the bar, disco balls, a variety of ‘found items’ and a large gorilla statue by the entrance. The pictures should describe it better…
And, asides from quirky, the layout is also well designed from the visitor’s point of view. There’s plenty of space to swing a cat (not that I’m into that kinda thing), and the large front facing window adds to that spacious feeling. I’m a big believer in ‘non confined dining’ and so this was a big plus for me. Good call, eccentric interior designer guy!
And as for that spacious interior – it’s definitely evoking the feel of a diner in the traditional style. It wouldn’t seem too unreasonable to envision it filled up with teddy boys, mods and rockers slurping slush puppies to the sound of The Shadows or something.
So yes, here casual is the word. The musical selection was a casual hits playlist of 50s to 80s pop stuff. Not the downtempo house and jazz music I have been hearing at so many of these places (since I guess Sade would feel a little outta place here)
And speaking of music, Retro Feasts lives above the Voodoo Vault, and as we ate, there was a series of gigs going on beneath us. The people coming and going gave the place an energetic sense of importance.
Here’s the cool bit
Now I think the masterpiece of Retro Feasts’ design is as follows…
When you go to a diner, you don’t necessarily expect to get very good food, right? So the real angle here might be that the menu actually undersells the food. The selection is really ambiguous, which we were told was actually an intentional part of the plan. So understated and kinda vague is the style. I was almost expecting the kinda simple ‘honest’ faire, basically the lower quality food that you’d get in a diner.
But then the food arrives and you are very pleasantly suprised.
The food arrives
The menu comes in 4 parts, and the food arrives very speedily. We opted for two starters at once before going onto
Here’s a few of the delectable selections…
The drinks menu packs a few suprises. This is the first time I’ve ever drunk a cocktail out of a teacup…
Retro Feasts is completely not what I expected (having done a little research) and I say this in a good way! The place would be a great place to go with a group of friends for a casual meal before heading out for a night on the town (since window shopping in Mayfair in various stages of inebriation is weirdly gratifying). It also feels like an ideal spot to start a musical evening, especially considering it’s placement above the Voodoo Vault. Spontaneous is good too; and walk ins are welcome.
A: 29 OLD BURLINGTON ST, LONDON – W1S 3AN
P: 020 7494 5660