London Life Places

portobello dock

September 17, 2012

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.

Steve parle trained at the river cafe, moro and petersham nurseries, all places i’ve eaten in often and adore. I love his philosophy. Here’s what the website says:

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’.

I hope you get to visit portobello dock. To get a free entry pass to all their events during #ldf12 click here. Must get ready for heart home magazine‘s 1st birthday bash. See you on thursday.

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  • Reply Igor September 17, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    Oh my, my, what a great place!! I think I won’t sleep at all in London just to be able to discover all those places!!!

    • Reply tina September 26, 2012 at 7:58 pm

      Ha. You’ve been and loved it. Thats the important part!!!

  • Reply geraldine September 17, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    I’ve never heard of that restaurant, looks great – will check it out,thanks. Love the decor. You seriously should consider writing a guide to London book. x

    • Reply tina September 26, 2012 at 7:58 pm

      You will like it, I think!!
      Thanks darling, Maybe not a guide, but working on something similar:) x

  • Reply Theresa September 18, 2012 at 3:17 am

    As soon as I read Tom Dixon I knew we were in for a treat. Look at all that design goodness, with fabulous eatery thrown in. “Designs on Chocolate” – whoever thought of that idea was brilliant. 🙂 Great post, Tina. Happy you’re finding lots of inspiration.

    • Reply tina September 26, 2012 at 7:59 pm

      Tom Dixon is quite extraordinary, I agree! Glad you enjoyed lovely!

  • Reply Holly September 18, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    Oh my word! This place has been high on my list of things to see and do if in London, I mean considering my crush on Tom Dixon and all … but after your fantastic images Tina, I’m even more enthralled. And with the LDF on and all these great things happening there .. must be amazing! And check you out, getting a sneak peak at Designs on Chocolate!

    So happy you shared these 🙂 Thank you, thank you! xoxo

    • Reply tina September 26, 2012 at 8:01 pm

      Well, the list is growing. Now you have a job, I still think you should come to London for AT LEAST one week. Any less and I can not show you a full Tina Tour! Trust me, not to be missed:)) xx

  • Reply parisbreakfast September 18, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    I could eat the violette bouquet

    • Reply tina September 26, 2012 at 8:02 pm

      Ha. Bon appétit Carol. Merci….:))

  • Reply Nicola September 18, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    Love the Dock! I can’t believe they have Merci as a pop-up shop too! What a great match. Thanks for the info xx

    • Reply tina September 26, 2012 at 8:02 pm

      Hope you made it to the Dock and to Merci!! x

  • Reply Sam Lennie September 18, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    What a fabulous place, I shall have to go visit. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Reply tina September 26, 2012 at 8:03 pm

      You’ll be in for a treat… not a fluffy cushion in sight though:) x

  • Reply Chi@106 September 18, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Now this is why I love coming here, Tina – to get the scoop on the very best that London has to offer, amongst other wonderful, soul-nourishing things! 😀

    What an amazing concept! I LOVE the sound of the experimental kitchen!! I shall have to go there and see if they can handle my rather unique requirements. 😉
    So exciting that Merci is “popping up” too – I’ve never been.

    Thanks for the link and have a great time at the party! xo

    • Reply tina September 26, 2012 at 8:04 pm

      Aww, Chi, you are always so complimentary!! Thank you !!

      No doubt you’ll find something there!!! I’m sure of it. Let me know when you’ll be going and I’ll come for coffee:)

  • Reply sue September 18, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    i lurve, lurve, lurve the made a mano tiles & the tom dixon shop is worth the schlep out there!

    • Reply tina September 26, 2012 at 8:05 pm

      Ha. The schlepp is so true. Mind you, on scooter, nothing is very much a schlepp.
      The made a mano tiles are to die for:))

  • Reply Gerard @WalnutGrey September 19, 2012 at 9:33 am

    Tina, thanks for this gorgeous post. Shame on me, living in London and I’ve never been to Portobello Dock. I do like the aesthetic they’ve achieved with their interior styling. It’s quite rustic, if a little haphazard. I think I’d especially love the tart bakery! xx

    • Reply tina September 26, 2012 at 8:08 pm

      WHAT?????? Mr Grey, how very upsetting. Get yourself down there please…. it’s a must!!

      Tart is great. In fact, when I was there they had 2 beautifully grilled chickens ready for making tartes or quiche or whatever.
      I was sooo hungry that I literally begged her to cut me a piece of breast so I could scoff it. She did and I was in heaven, that’s how good it was!!! Thanks love x

  • Reply Beauty Follower September 19, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    Great place, love the interior design of it.

    • Reply tina September 26, 2012 at 8:08 pm

      Thank you! Nice of you to stop by:)

  • Reply Kelly September 21, 2012 at 9:52 am

    Thanks for introducing me to Portabello Dock, I love Tom Dixon. Looks like it would be right up Mr S’s street too, going to try and get over there tomorrow x

    • Reply tina September 26, 2012 at 8:08 pm

      So, did you??? Let me know what you and Mr S thought? I have no doubt you liked it!! x

  • Reply Anya Adores September 24, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    GOSH – I am soo out of touch with the london bar/restaurant scene. This place is FAB Tina, wish we were in London longer than a week, feels like we never have enough time to see everything we want to see:)
    A xxx

    • Reply tina September 26, 2012 at 8:09 pm

      Ha. That’s because you’re not often enough here AND because you need yo hang out a bit with me!!!
      A week is good. Gee in touch if you want ideas of where/what to see xx

  • Reply Igor September 25, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    I loved it there Tina!! Such an inspiring and beautifully made place. You portrayed it so well, I hardly recognized it in reality:-)

  • Reply Anya Jensen February 14, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    OHH Tina – when can I jump on the back of your scooter – the places you go, oh la la . FAB – just saying’. Happy weekend love,

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