Our girl Hannah Tan-Gillies ventured into Mayfair’s newest opening — Riviera — a chic French bistro that is bringing the joie de vivre of the Côte d’Azur straight into the heart of London.
With a warm colour palette evocative of the cafes and bistros of Saint Tropez and Cannes, Riviera is all about bringing a chic Mediterranean dining experience to life in gloomy ol’ London town.
Riviera is the brainchild of Alberto and Arian Zandi, co-founders of Emerald Hospitality Group. The Zandi brothers have imbued the once minimalist space with the sunny Mediterranean spirit of Nice and Antibes, the flavours of Cannes and the immaculate vibes of Saint Tropez.
The experience begins with cocktails at the Amelia lounge, which instantly transports you to the shores of the Cote d’Azur as soon as you enter. Picture plenty of vibrant sunny tones, rich textures and plenty of art that take inspiration from 20th century artists Pablo Picasso and Le Corbusier.
Amelia is the name of Le Corbusier’s infamous muse – and like Amelia, her namesake lounge transforms from casual cocktail spot in the day to a buzzy lounge bar complete with resident DJ in the evenings. Enjoying a cocktail at the Amelia Lounge is very much like stepping into one of the artist’s canvasses. Life truly imitates art at Riviera.
Dinner is served in the main dining room, which is accessed via an escalator that is once again is covered in art. Here, floor-to-ceiling windows give incredible views of St. James below, while chic velvet banquettes, raffia details, and warm summer colours evoke the ambiance of the Med.
We started with the fabulously fresh endive salad, which comes with Brillat Savarin and smoked duck breast, and the Lobster Salad with sweet lemon dressing. Both dishes are classic fares in the South of France – and yet Riviera manages to give them its own twist.
For mains, the Black Truffle slow-cooked baby chicken with sauteed wild mushrooms is hearty and delicious, while the grilled octopus (another Mediterranean favourite) as elevated with chimichurri and cauliflower puree. What culinary adventure to the South of France would be complete without pomme frites? and Riviera cooks their classic French Fries to perfection.
Goes to show that no matter if they’re serving a classic pomme frites – or the more elevated Turbot à la Meunière, Riviera does everything with the style and authenticity of a true destination restaurant in the South of France.