A fine dining restaurant, swish bar and cool nightclub all under one roof, Zebrano’s latest opening in the City ticks all of Aby Dunsby’s boxes.
At the ripe old age of 28, I’ve made a decision: I’m too old and weary to be clip-clopping around London in heels, rushing from one party to the next, or speeding across the capital to make pit stops at bars, restaurants and clubs all in one night. That’s not to say I’ll be staying in (I’m not that old). I’ve just become more strategic with my venue choices. Find me a spot where I can order several killer cocktails, eat top notch food in chic surroundings and shimmy along to the DJs tracks, and I can go to bed (boozed and) content.
I know I’m not alone in my lazy tendencies, and Zebrano’s latest venture caters to them wonderfully. Following the huge popularity of its Soho and Carnaby bars, the owners, founder of Seymour-Valentine Coffee Cevat Riza and former Head of Hospitality for JP Morgan Don Cameron, have moved their attention to the City, opening their newest Zebrano branch in the shadow of the Gherkin. As well as boasting an immense, swanky bar-cum late-night lounge, Zebrano In the City marks the group’s first foray into the world of fine dining, with the top floor dedicated to its restaurant.
It’s an intimate, dimly-lit, exposed brickwork affair with stark concrete floors and an air of industrial, urban elegance. Service is first class, and the atmosphere is formal without being stifling. By some sort of malicious twist of fate, neither me nor my friend are able to drink due to lingering winter lurgies, and our enforced sobriety disappoints the bartender as much as us: it’s clear from our neighbouring table, where two girls sit sipping colourful concoctions from highball glasses, that this place takes cocktail-making seriously. We perk up when our waiter demands our three favourite non-alcoholic ingredients and returns clutching a sherbety-delicious mocktail of passionfruit, grapefruit and elderflower. If I really concentrate, I can almost taste the rum…
The food is well-executed and immaculately presented. Delicate hints of Asian inspiration pepper the menu, and are manifest in my starter of scallop ceviche with avocado, fresh cucumber and sweet ‘n’ sour apple salt. My hefty slab of tender rib eye steak is perfectly marbled and arrives with chips so fat I have to cut them in half, while my friend baulks at the suggestion we share her main of hare, hunters pie, beetroot, bitter chocolate and cavolo nero, which she proceeds to devour gleefully. After groaning our way through a dessert of chocolate fondant with an oozing passion fruit middle, we head downstairs with our bellies full to check out the bar downstairs, where a polished after-work crowd perch on slate-hued sofas armed with cocktails and posh bar snacks including duck confit donuts and braised ox cheek.
At weekends, when a DJ graces the booth, the tables are pushed to the side to make way for the dance floor. If you and your colleagues or friends are feeling flush, there’s also the restaurant’s Chef’s Table concept, located right next to the vast, gleaming kitchen, where up to eight people can dine on a seven-course tasting menu paired with a matching Taittinger champagne for each dish. If you’re looking to shake off your corporate shackles for the evening, but you’re not keen to spend the night listening to Justin Bieber and snogging strangers at Forge, Zebrano is your one-stop-shop; a sophisticated happy medium where you can eat, drink and party.
Zebrano City, Dukes House, 32-38 Dukes Place, London EC3A 7DB; 020 7759 2121; zebrano.london
Aby Dunsby is a staff writer for Square Mile magazine and squaremile.com