Belgravia’s Pantechnicon is a restaurant complex that indiscriminately blends Japanese and Nordic culinary culture from behind its ornate neoclassical Doric columns.
The line-up’s biggest hit is probably a London debut for Cafe Kitsuné, the Japanese-Parisian clutch of fashionable cafes tied to the eponymous fashion house. Nancy Singleton Hachisu, the famed Japanese cookbook author, has created a menu for Japanese restaurant Sachi which will lean heavily on vegetables from Namayasai Farm in East Sussex, which supplies many of the best, not exclusively Japanese restaurants in the city. It’s currently a pop-up, but is slated for full opening in 2021. Then there’s Eldr, a 70-seat restaurant “showcasing Nordic cooking methods”; the menu currently features radish and greengages with an almond dressing; chicken, lovage, and chard with truffle butter; and chocolate with quince and liquorice. It’s also serving a murderers’ row of natural wines, including producers like Gut Oggau. Then, there’s a Japanese bottle shop majoring in sake, a rooftop garden, and a pretty stacked retail offering with some well-regarded Japanese and Nordic brands.
Pantechnicon says that the hybridisation is because “we love that the Japanese and Nordic countries share such a passion for craftsmanship.” On a culinary level, it’s certainly true that Japanese kaiseki tradition heavily influenced the new Nordic boom. But beyond that shared love from the ownership, it’s not precisely clear why the two have been paired — other than because they have been assimilated into a general genre of “lifestyle” coolness. It may also face questions as to why it couldn’t find a Japanese expert to helm culinary operations, despite Hachisu’s evident care and respect for the culture she transmits.
As for the name, it goes back to 1830: the Belgravia building on Motcomb Street previously housed an arts and crafts centre, before becoming an “upmarket warehouse for local residents to store finds from their travels around the world.” It now lends its name to a type of removal lorry. Slated to open 22 September, what Pantechnicon most certainly is is new to the city, even if its many touchpoints are already well-embedded in London dining.