Venetian brasserie style interior with formal restaurant dining on the ground floor and additional dining located on the mezzanine level, which is a somewhat of a rarity amongst London fine dining restaurants.
Veneta opened at the end of 2016 in the popular St James Market area and is situated next door to our very own labour of love project – the fine dining Japanese restaurant Anzu. It’s a new year and now that Veneta was fully open for business we thought we would pop in to see what the neighbours were like.
We were greeted by a charming and enthusiastic waiter who showed us to a seat in the middle of the restaurant where we could get a view of the entire Italian restaurant design concept. The banquette with the sprung seats passed the comfort test and the side chairs were comfortable too.
We only stayed for a glass of wine, a very nice recommendation by the waiter I might add, due to it being too late for lunch and too early for dinner. The friendly service we received was welcoming and even though we were the only customers there we got the impression the service would be good here regardless or occupancy level.
Looking in from outside you can easily see that the interior patterns and colours reference waves and the seas, and the fresh seafood display on ice reinforces the nautical theme which one could directly relate to Venice’s history. Not so obvious to the customer is the imagery of the acorn and the oak leaf on the projecting sign, for what now appears to be a seafood styled restaurant.
The interior scheme is an inoffensive eclectic mix of older styles and vintage elements trying to recreate a bygone era, such as the cheese trolley, decorative iron table pedestal bases, rolling waves balustrade in an art nouveau‘esque style, low level café style lace curtain and brass rails, vintage drinks cabinet, black marble and dark wood herringbone floor and more.
However, I’m not sure these often delicate pieces blend harmoniously with other elements in the scheme.
There is a juxtaposition with the more modern elements that just don’t have the finesse or detailing as the vintage styles, like the ocean coloured large slumped glass and raw steel box frames above the fixed seating, the pale coloured modern looking open slat ceiling and painted bar ceiling treatments, the black painted metal and leather upholstered bar stools, the broken tile white mosaic bar front (reminiscent of Gaudi’s Park Guell) and the modern scalloped fish scale like marine green tiles behind the bar.
Direct Italian restaurant design references come from the Carrera marble bar and table tops with brass edging and the mix of dark timber table tops, giving a touch of class to the interior.
The customer toilets were finished in an older style too in fact they could easily be a replica of an old London pub. The oversized clam shell wall sconces above the framed oval mirror look out of context with the rest of the finishes, but are reminders of the ocean as promoted in the main restaurant.
Feature lighting in general is going to be a topic for discussion by many diners and designers alike. Along with the clam style sconces there are two very large branching coral-like bronze chandeliers suspended above diners heads (pointy end down, slightly unnerving) that can’t be missed from the interior or exterior.
Aside from the above critique, the restaurant seems like it would be a great place to revisit and try the food.