Chef Fergus Henderson of the Michelin-starred "nose-to-tail" restaurant St. John, in London's Smithfield, and his business partner, Trevor Gulliver, will open their new St. John Hotel on the West End site of the former Manzi's "famous seafood restaurant" sometime in March. The hotel is just off Leicester Square.
On the ground floor will be a 70-seat restaurant serving until 2 a.m.; the bar (where you can also have "Elevenses" and afternoon tea) is one flight up. Atop that will be 15 guestrooms in three sizes: Post Supper ("removing the need for a taxi home"), Mini Grand, Urban Hut ("everything the traveler needs and nothing that they do not"), and an expandable one-bedroom suite.
Heading up the new kitchen is chef Tom Harris, who shifted over from the original St. John, the former smokehouse that's been a foodie mecca since it opened in 1994. (A second operation, St. John Bread and Wine, opened in Spitalfields in 2003.) Matthew Rivett, formerly of The Ritz, will be the general manager, overseeing restaurant and rooms.
And, most importantly, what about the food? While Ferguson is known for earthy dishes such as pig spleen, ox heart, braised mutton, and even squirrel (but only in season, of course), that's unlikely to fly with the Lion King or Wizard of Oz crowd in the popular location. So while the actual menu remains under wraps until the hotel makes its debut, project development manager Will Lander does say that dishes will be "noticeably St. John but reflective of our West End location… a touch more glamorous than the other St. John sites, to fit in with the rhythms of theater land."
With a prominent location (Manzi's was a London fixture for 60 years), an imaginative concept, a pedigreed chef and plenty of pre-opening press, guestrooms are sure to fill up. "We're opening a hotel," Henderson says, "where people will actually want to eat."