Words & Photography Kirk Truman
Located above New Oxford Street, high enough to avoid making eye contact with the passengers on the top deck of the 55 bus and low enough to create a buzz from the street, VIVI Restaurant and Bar is the new all-day dining brasserie in Centre Point from rhubarb, a high end catering company who are the team behind Sky Garden in The City. The huge restaurant spans the old walkway that joins the main tower to the original residential block.
Designed by Gordon Young Architects, who have worked on projects in The Shard, including sky-high Chinese restaurant Hutong, the sweeping space that is VIVI is divided up into different areas. At one end, a grand marble floor sections off a huge gold topped bar. Slick teal stools are neatly aligned around the counter and you can choose from a wide selection of champagnes and killer cocktails; their signature being the Pink Floyd, a playful twist on the classic Cosmopolitan made with a punchy blend of rhubarb vodka, Cointreau and vanilla.
In the middle of the space, circular teal banquettes create a neat dining room. There is a contemporary feel, with dark marble tables and oversized, pastel pink armchairs. Above, a bespoke Vibeke Fonnesberg Schmidt chandelier frames everything in a soft golden light. With a bright and breezy feel, light floods into the restaurant from New Oxford Street on one side and a newly developed square to the other, which will be the main entrance to Crossrail on Tottenham Court Road.
Different zones have been created on either side of the main dining room. Overlooking New Oxford Street, The Gallery is a narrow walkway with an impressive black and white tiled floor and huge sign directing you to Take Your Pleasure Seriously. It’s laid for dinner service.
On the other side, overlooking the new development is Liquid Lounge, a sunken section with pink booths and a little bar. This is a place to have breakfast or lunch and then roll into drinks and dinner. In truth, it’s an extension of the dining room but feels more appropriate for an early morning meeting than perhaps the more grown up central space.
VIVI is part of the revamp of the rather ill-fated Centre Point, a London landmark that everyone knows which was for long a centre of all and nothing. Built in the sixties, the thirty four floor building was called ‘London’s Empty Skyscraper’ on account of it being predominately vacant from completion in 1975. The building was Grade II listed in 1995 and in 2015 a decision was made to turn it into luxury apartments. Property developers, Almacantar, have taken on the project, converting the lonesome landmark into eighty two swanky apartments and 45,000 square foot of retail and restaurant space. As well as VIVI, which comes complete with private access for residents, they are expecting dim sum maestros Din Tai Fung on the ground floor, Pret a Manger, a gaggle of street food stalls and Black Sheep Coffee.
The menu is contemporary comfort food, with classic dishes like starters of quiche Lorraine and twice baked Cheddar soufflé. The salmon gravadlax, sourced from Var in the Faroe Islands, comes with a light fennel, dill and pink grapefruit salad. A rather silky smooth horseradish and creme fraiche sauce accompanies the fish, giving it a much needed kick of seasoning. Take your pick of signature dishes from the mains, including their duck a l’orange or chicken kiev with braised lettuce and perfectly quenelled mashed potato. If that’s not your vibe, they have a more mainstream section of the menu with Madras roasted monkfish, a cheeseburger or breaded Dublin Bay langoustine scampi.
Dishes are well presented; the dark plates against the backdrop of the bright pink and blue seats make very feed friendly shots for Instagram, a thread that has most likely been taken into consideration throughout the restaurant fit out. With prices for their signature dishes ranging from £17.50 for the kiev to £34 for the hereford steak, this should be a given.
Perhaps the best dish of them all is the Millionaire’s Chocolate Bar on the pudding menu. This decadent dessert is the ultimate home made Galaxy Bar. Layers of chocolate sponge, Florentine and rich salted caramel, bound together in a shimmering cloak of caramel, served with tangy chocolate sorbet and a wafer thin chocolate touile biscuit. I can see myself returning for round two of this epic eat and a glass of bubbly imminently.