London practice Alexander Waterworth collaborated on the interior design. ‘We and they saw the building had a special sense of space, an innate warmth, abundance of light,’ Johnny says, on his first day off since opening. ‘I want guests to have a sense of freedom here. To have a wander.’ Walk in through the bar, whose midcentury lighting and booths evoke a night train’s dining carriage and suit scruffier suppers, towards the dining area, via a beautiful, absurdly lush private dining ‘garden room’ and properly farmhouse-y pasta kitchen. Out the back is an Italianate terrace – they have plans for Virginia creepers, dusky dinners served outdoors in summer.
Scallop-pink natural plasterwork left raw and timber are the space’s bricks and mortar. ‘They create a calming atmosphere reminiscent of an Amalfi coastal town,’ the interior designer, Alexander Evangelou tells us. Sage, dusky rose and navy blue linens soften the space and are punctuated with jolly branches of spruce, fir and eucalyptus in jugs. The place glows.
And the kit
‘Good uniform shows respect and admiration for the staff. And it’s part of the story – a restaurant is not just about food, wine, service,’ Johnny thinks. How come Folk? ‘We know the brand, we know Cathal and Chris, and they’re local. We wanted to have British uniform, and there’s a real hand-crafted honesty about Folk, a sartorial elegance about everything they make.’ The team wear Grey Dogtooth smart shirts and tapered Hawksmill jeans. Johnny himself wears a TimothyEverest tailoring, whose suits hang off the likes of David Tennant aka Prince Philip (in The Crown) Benedict and Tilda Swinton (in real life). Very smart it is, too.
‘I’m really happy, really proud of everyone and how they’ve done so far,’ he finishes up with. ‘Happy to be at the start of what, I hope, will be a long journey.’ Cheers to that! See you there for a Campari soda.
*I can confirm we didn’t bribe him to say that.
88 St John Street, London, EC1M 4EH
Words: Charlotte Brook