We have take off. The london design festival officially opened on friday and there’s just so much to see. At the weekend i popped into portobello dock and thought it might be nice to give you a little tour of a place i love to visit, both for design inspiration, great food and generally to hang out in. I remember when the complex opened in 2009. The first time i visited i was blown away by the sheer size and the exciting layout. Some has changed and evolved since then but i think it’s only got better.
The portobello dock on the grand union canal was a project by tom dixon’s design research studio which specialises in interior design schemes. The site is home to the tom dixon shop and, more recently, the dock kitchen originally a pop-up restaurant launched to celebrate london design week (and the opening of portobello dock) in 2009. The restaurant headed by steve parle proved so successful that it never closed!
Dock kitchen showcases dixon’s love of raw, honest materials. It features floors and tables clad in natural lava stone from mount edna, which have been hand-glazed and painted in a small factory in sicily by surface specialist, made a mano. Of course, the furniture and lighting is from the tom dixon collection.
Stevie runs an experimental kitchen always adapting the menu and trying new things depending on what is in season, what far flung place he or another of the chefs have visited, or what new ingredient they have come across abroad or at home. Dishes are collected, adapted, and recreated dock kitchen style. In the evenings we run a fixed, shared meal alongside our regular a la carte offering. The focus for this meal might be a specific place, a particular ingredient or just an idea that inspires us to cook exciting things. We don’t spend months practising dishes before putting them on our menu. Instead we like to be spontaneous and react to what our carefully chosen suppliers are able to give us. We hope you enjoy our approach to food as much as we do.
There is also a magnificent terrace. Unfortunately lots of people were busy building stands for the london design festival so i stayed clear. Underneath the restaurant you’ll find the tom dixon store, housing pieces from over a dozen international designers.
Further along from the shop there are arches that house pop-up exhibitions, restaurants and concessions. From monday there’ll be a concession from the famous merci shop in paris. Adjacent, you’ll find a pop-up bakery, cum tarts, pies and salad place, called tart bakery. It’s run by florence, who went to the same cookery school as stevie parle and shares his philosophy of food.
The portobello dock is a great place for inspiration, eating, shopping and spending a fun-filled afternoon. One of the reasons i visited over the weekend was to see the designs on chocolate, where five designers have been paired with five top chocolatiers to explore the properties of chocolate and to create five one-off sculptural designs that reference london in one way or another. Unfortunately, there was a mistake in the guide and you can only view the chocolates from today (monday). However, i was allowed a sneek preview. Here are two of the designs. The second one is part of tom dixons ‘metropolis’.