Aster, the latest restaurant from D&D London, will open on 1st February at Nova Food in Victoria, London. The 10,000 square foot space has been designed by Russell Sage Studios and is set across two floors, comprising a café and deli on the ground floor and an upstairs restaurant and bar. The kitchen will be overseen by Executive Chef, Helena Puolakka, and will serve the Nordic cuisine of her Finnish heritage complemented by classic French dishes and techniques refined over her career.
Russell Stage Studio has drawn on the breadth of Aster’s food concepts to create distinct dining spaces which contrast in style, yet complement each other. The 161 cover café and deli will have a neutral colour palette with grey and beige tones, offset by brass detailing, marble and timber finishes. Creating a strong sense of place, Aster’s location next to Victoria Station will be referenced in use of luggage-inspired detailing on the café’s bar front, which will also be crowned by a re-imagined railway clock enabling guests travelling from Victoria to keep an eye on the time. A spectacular staircase will lead to the 122 cover restaurant and cocktail bar above, with shades of purple and gold featuring plush fabrics such as velvet and leather, balanced with a continuation of the brass and marble detailing from downstairs. The ceiling itself will become a work of art, with undulating, layered fabrics to reflect the notion of travel and movement. The restaurant will also include a 16 cover private dining room, and glass-walled wine room seating up to eight guests.
In the café and deli, traditional Nordic delicacies such as fish roe, pickled herring and wild berries will sit alongside comforting cinnamon buns and Smörgåsbords such as shredded duck, cornichons, fig chutney and sourdough. Upstairs in the restaurant, more refined dishes of Arctic char and hot smoked Greenland prawns with aubergine caviar and dill and Pyrenean lamb shoulder with braised January King cabbage and lingonberry will be available. Setting the crowds passing through Victoria up for the day ahead, breakfast options ranging from healthy gluten free granolas and warming porridge to ‘The Nordic’, featuring sherry herrings with smoked vendance, cured salmon, pickled cucumber, crispy rye and egg butter, will also be on offer in the café.
Afternoons at Aster will be marked by a seasonally changing afternoon tea menu, with open rye sandwiches topped with the likes of Atlantic prawn skagen or cured salmon and pickles providing a Nordic take on finger sandwiches. Each season will bring a new selection of carefully curated teas for guests to choose from, as well as a selection of cakes and pastries drawing on both French and Nordic patisserie traditions.
Each month, Aster will host ‘Series of Senses’, an experiential dinner exploring the five senses: touch, sound, sight, taste and aroma. Held in the private dining room, the immersive, five course menu will aim to capture the Nordic-French spirit at the heart of the restaurant. Hand-peeled Atlantic prawns with lemon, crème fraiche and herring roe will be served accompanied by sounds of the sea and, through the use of virtual reality goggles, diners will be transported to the Finnish borders whilst enjoying smoked vendace with roe, fennel and dill pollen.
Aster marks a return to D&D for Helena, who originally joined the group as executive chef to launch Skylon, where she stayed for six years until 2013. Hailing from the south-west coast of Finland, Helena’s upbringing has shaped her style of cooking, which focuses on uncomplicated, homemade food and distinctive flavours. Her French culinary training adds a completely different dimension to dishes, departing from Scandinavia’s wind-swept landscape of endless forests to the tranquil vistas of Southern France. The menus throughout Aster will be built upon this exciting combination.