The restaurant: VIVI, Centre Point, 11 Saint Giles Square, London WC2H 8AP
If you ever moon about long enough outside Tottenham Court Road, you’ll glance upwards and clock a sprawling neon sign that says ‘Take your pleasure seriously’. That must be the place I thought as we peeled off New Oxford Street into VIVI by rhubarb, the team that also brought us the Sky Garden. The all-day dining joint is a swish throwback to the sixties with its name spelling out ’66’ in Roman numerals, paying homage to the year the London skyscraper Centre Point was built. Despite the dining and decor hearkening back to another age, VIVI’s target demographic is those brought up in the digital world.
It’s all about the interiors. Marbled floors, a splendid brass central bar surrounded by teal stools without a seat out of place. The dining area gives way to rosy pink hues and a huge plexiglass chandelier. As a lover of symmetry, the place is stunning. It’s hard to resist taking a photo. In the same manner as Élan’s flower wall, Tonight Josephine’s neon signage, and the Sketch dining room, Instagrammers will eat up this interior design. While Instagram might send me all over town to try triple-stacked burgers and keep drawing me back to Nonna Tonda with platefuls of fresh cacio e pepe, I’m often sceptical making a reservation on the basis of style alone.
However, VIVI isn’t all about looks. The cocktail list and dinner menu intuitively compliment the decor. Cocktails nod towards sixties culture and music with ‘Wild Honey on The Beach’ a Beach Boys reference and ‘The Weeping Guitar’ one for The Beatles. The food is classic British; it’s steeped in nostalgia and a friendly throwback to the sixties and seventies for people born thirty years later. For starters, you’ll get a prawn cocktail, pea soup or twice-baked soufflé. A thick slab of chicken and ham terrine with sourdough was meaty and flavoursome, served with a brilliantly tangy piccalilli. A chicken kiev, duck à l’orange and mushroom vol au vent continue the retro theme through the main dishes. For me, the fish and chips was a huge piece of Guinness-battered haddock with minted peas. Sadly, it arrived with a portion of fries rather than chips. My pal’s Hereford beef burger drenched in grilled cheese hit the spot, in particular with its side of homemade slaw. We couldn’t resist apple and plum crumble for dessert, a warm and comforting treat on the right side of gooey and served with custard and crème fraîche ice cream. Other close dessert contenders were the After Eight and rhubarb and custard.
Escape being elbow-to-elbow with Oxford Street shoppers into the huge (and hugely classy) VIVI restaurant to enjoy a spot of sophistication at any time of the day, be it brunch, afternoon tea, dinner or pre-theatre cocktail time.
To book, visit VIVIRestaurant.co.uk or call 0300 500 0958.
For more date night inspo, click here.