Chef John Javier, who made his name as chef-owner at Master in Sydney, Australia, will make his mark on the London restaurant industry this year. First, with what he calls a “member’s club and restaurant,” which will serve a broadly Middle Eastern menu and operate on an invite-only basis, without a membership fee. Later in the year, a modern Chinese restaurant project more akin to Master is slated for east London.
17 Little Portland Street in Fitzrovia will open fully this weekend, 5 February, after completing seven days of trials, with Javier collaborating with DJ Bas Ibellini, Tav Christopher (formerly of The Cuckoo Club), and Patxi Andres, who comes from Lee Tiernan’s Black Axe Mangal in Islington.
“Unlike other places that charge for membership, ours is invite only with no membership fee. We would rather just have like-minded guests rather than people who could just afford the fee,” Javier told Eater London. “We’ve got a healthy list of international DJs who will be doing secret appearances and all the speakers are hand-made by Martion (an audio specialist based in Munich.)
The restaurant will serve a menu which Javier says is a “modern representation of Middle Eastern food, which will be “really careful in paying respect to the traditional techniques and flavours.”
A week ago, Javier teased his followers on Instagram with a range of dishes members might expect at the new restaurant. The likes of bottarga taramasalata; hummus, saffron brown butter, ash; onions, pomegranate molasses, sumac; grilled cabbage, spiced butter, yogurt and lime; roasted turbot, kabsa, monk’s beard; yuzu kosho tabbouleh; herb and smoked herring rice pilaf; and potato tahdig all featured.
“Some of the guys are Middle Eastern and I thought it would be interesting to do a cuisine that resonated with them,” he said. “It’s definitely a new challenge for us but if their Grandparents eat at the restaurant and say ‘this is Middle Eastern,’ we’d know we’d have succeeded.”
Food will be served in the restaurant from 6 p.m. until 11 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday and 1 p.m. through to 11 p.m. on Sunday. “Once we’re more settled, we’re looking to have food until 3 or 4 a.m. Wednesday to Saturday,” Javier said.
17 Little Portland Street promises to be sceney, with Javier saying “the club and restaurant is friends only, but if that changes I’ll let you know.
“Sundays are going to be more relaxed and sort of like a guest list industry party. So as long as friends confirm it with me first, they can bring their crew.”
The lay restaurant-goer is going to have to wait a little longer for Javier’s eagerly anticipated modern Sichuan-Cantonese restaurant project, which he is planning to open in east London later this year. “It is true I’m working on a high-end modern Sichuan / Cantonese place in East London to open later this year. Whether it goes by the name of All Under Heaven or MASTER... I guess you’ll just have to wait and see. I’d love to give you more details when it’s set in stone.”
Javier’s Master closed its doors in 2016, but was reportedly a restaurant Noma’s Rene Redzepi labelled as one of his favourites in Australia. Javier subsequently moved to Hong Kong and opened the critically acclaimed Happy Paradise, before alighting in London to work with Pachamama.