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Monday 25 June 2012

Pop-up Pasta: Pret A Diner

As I push publish on this post there are 5 days, 9 hours, 33 minutes and 15 seconds left.

Time is running out....

No, we're not talking the Apocalypse, we're talking pop-ups, pasta and paintings - to be specific, Pret A Diner which has been resident in Mayfair since 9th May and closes its doors for good this weekend.  If you miss out, you may never experience anything quite like it again... well, until it pops up somewhere else that is...

The website proclaims, 'This is not a pop-up restaurant - this is a dining experience' and this time, we're inclined to believe the hype. 

Brought to us by the German catering power house, Kofler & Kompanie, the current pop-up is Pret A Diner's seventh in Europe and second in London.  Always runaway successes, previous pop-ups have been housed in a former coin mint in Berlin, a disused movie theatre in Munich and, last October, the Old Vic Tunnels in London.  This time the location is Grade II listed, 50 St James' Street, a former gaming house frequented by the Duke of Wellington, and more recently the casino and private members club, Fifty.  

Provocatively entitled 'Italians Do It Better', this year's London extravaganza, blends Michelin starred Italian cooking with Italian art and music to create a complete sensory experience.  Bringing an element of competition to the evening, diners can choose between a traditional Italian menu served up by Northern Italian, chef, Giorgio Locatelli or a menu with a more contemporary slant offered by one of five other guest Michelin starred Italian chefs (including Paolo Marchi and Viviana Varese).  The food is reportedly sublime, think ricotta stuffed zucchini flowers with tomato consomme; Angus beef, burrata and rhubarb; and tuna tartare with tomato and olive concasse.

The gastronomic feast is served up in a dining room which is one part Nonna's kitchen and two parts Baz Luhrmann's Romeo & Juliet with a sprinkling of sleek, contemporary minimalism. Rustic, wooden communal tables strewn with lace doilies and candelabras, jostle with Philippe Starck ghost chairs and graffitied walls.  Affixed to one of the walls, a pink neon basketball hoop adorned with chains and crystals serves as a modern day chandelier.  Continuing in the basketball court vein, high mesh fencing encircles the tables creating a complete contrast to the huge, elaborate, floral arrangements scattered throughout the space.  Everything comes together to create the perfect backdrop for an evening of Bacchanalian excess.   

And while the food may be exceptional, its not the only reason to visit.  Locatelli's tiramisu is perfectly complemented by contemporary Italian art including Olivia Steele's Emin-esque neon installations and Aron Demetz's wood carvings.  The soundtrack is provided by a diverse range of Italian musicians from electro house DJs to 40s-style blues and jazz singers.  

After supper, expertly mixed, killer cocktails are shaken up by the boys from the bar of the moment, The Bar with No Name (which we tipped you off about in February).  

For an unforgettable, decadent night of la dolce vita, we suggest that you nab one of the last tables going pronto.  And if you're not London based, fret not, a string of brand new international pop-ups are tabled for later this year.  Rumour has it Hong Kong's on the list, we hope it's true....

Images via:

Italians Do It Better
Pret A Diner
50 St James' Street

Booking via:
Website - 
Email -  
Tel - +442074994736 

(Closing weekend is booked out, but you can join this weekend after dinner via

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