Chutney Mary Restaurant – St James’s LONDON UK
Reinventing the legendary Chelsea institution in St James’s has been a journey filled with excitement. It has been a brand of note for 25 years, one of London’s finest Indian restaurants. As the Interior Designers of the original location, its new locale, occupying a space that was also a legend in its day, (Prunier’s, a historic French fish restaurant) reinforced the idea of longevity and establishment in creating interiors that evoked timelessness. This was not to be a trendy place, and should portray a sense of historic British Raj, and a contemporary Indian vibe.
As you enter the bar, existing marble mosaic flooring was retained, it felt right, and although probably not that old, it had the right attitude. Copper metallic ceiling panels glow overhead, and warm the space while it reflects the gentle flicker of candlelight in the evening. Hand-carved Indian sandstone fronts the bar, while your arm rests upon its leather upholstered edge. Its design is on the warm side of contemporary. Large tekri panels, the traditional craft of mirror mosaic, first seen in London at the Original Chutney Mary, are executed in a Moghul inspired floral playfully dance light across it surface, subtle reminding us of the magic of India.
Opposite the bar, set against copper threaded grass cloth paper is a huge canvas by Delhi artist DzMadukhar Matani Dz. This painter was commissioned for his ability to lay paint on canvas that felt more like stain glass panels. Luminous blocks of layered colour paint a scene of imaginary India. Moghul patterns paired with a textured ribbed hand knotted carpets are backgrounds for a collection of indigo leather chairs and damask velvet sofas. A floating collection of bone objects, including a charming train set, mixed with shiny silver birds act as central focus, and divider for this area is both bar and the less formal area of the restaurant. A large rain tree timber table acts as a neighbourhood dining spot for many, or a larger group when required.
As you descend the stairs, the main dining room unfolds. Rich dark timber panels, linen embroidered draperies, tekri wall panels, and silver streaked wall covering wrap the room. Timber floors and hand-tufted Indian carpets are the base, with eggshell polished ribbed and paneled ceilings over head. A section of eglomise glass in copper and silver ground a series of dancing bauble lights. Another commissioned artwork by Matani, this one more colorful draws the eye from the stairs to the back of the space. A variety of chairs, from taupe leather Poltrana Frau armchairs to custom rosewood and cane seating mix with floralbanquettes to provide variety and help separate the various zones of the restaurant.
As you descend further downstairs to the clubrooms, for larger private dining, flooring become more colorful with rich red travertine. To remove attention from the lower Dzbasementdz ceiling heights we turned up the colour on the floors. It immediately warms the space and removes any notion that downstairs is not as exciting as upstairs. This is a larger restaurant, and frequent visits will allow for a great variety of experiences.