NEW MENU AND NEW FLAVOURS AT YOPO RESTAURANT
The Mandrake hotel, in London’s Fitzrovia, opened in 2017.
It’s a truly amazing hotel that is difficult to categorize as it doesn’t conform to a particular type.
It has 34 rooms and suites, many of which face into an internal well in the core of the building where cascades of jasmine vine flow down into the central ground floor courtyard.
It provides a jungle-like atmosphere.
The hotel is a treasure trove of original art; often controversial, sometimes unsettling but invariably brilliant.
A visit to The Mandrake will stay long in the memory, as will a meal in the hotel’s restaurant, YOPO.
The interior of YOPO’s main dining room is dark and theatrical, in keeping with the general design of the hotel.
Once inside, it’s easy to forget that you’re just a wall away from the buzz and bustle of London’s streets.
Here you find a slower, more relaxing atmosphere aided by a background playlist of laid back lounge music.
The walls, up-lit to dramatic effect, are stripped back to bare brick in some parts and curtained off in others.
To one side is a glass wall that looks into the inner courtyard with its tall palms and greenery.
Dark wood tables are illuminated by candlelight and courses are served on a variety of hand thrown earthenware plates.
Invariably, restaurants are judged upon the food; the service; the design/ambiance; and the overall cost: it would be churlish to award YOPO less than a nine for any component part.
As a complete experience we’d give it top marks, ten out of ten.
In terms of cost, there are a few expensive wines, for those who wish to push the boat out, and one dish (a 1kg Ribeye for sharing) that is high-end pricey but in general their pricing is fair and comparable for the area.
The ambiance and atmosphere is at once stimulating and calming.
It is a design-led hotel and there’s plenty to attract attention although once you’re seated, cocooned in the comfy velvet and suede chairs, all your attention is focused on the table.
YOPO by day photography: Gregorio Soave
This is partly due to clever, intimate lighting but it’s also down to the presentation of the dishes, a procession of individual works of art.
As for the food, much of the menu at YOPO is new, inspired by Chef George Scott-Toft’s travels through Argentina, Chile and Peru.
It is a celebration of his journey; an educational and cultural feast through South America.
Empanadas. Left: Octopus, Artichoke & Olive. Right: Spinach, Pine nut & Ricotta
“We wanted to bring the best of South America to YOPO in London with the creation of the new dishes.” says Scott-Toft.
“We’ve kept the dishes light yet complex, with a specific focus on seafood and vegetables, using the finest produce from personal suppliers in order to deliver impeccable and creative offerings.”
There is no single stand-out dish at YOPO, there are several.
Seabass crudo; octopus empanadas; mushroom ravioli and roasted aubergine with miso; to name but a few.
These dishes are beautifully crafted and balanced and the flavours are outstanding.
The service is amiable and extremely professional.
So good, in fact, that you’d be pushed to find better anywhere in the West End.
There’s a great skill in employing and training good staff and the HR team at The Mandrake have clearly got it.
The front of house team at YOPO are exceptional, attentive, knowledgeable and friendly.
London is spoilt for choice when it comes to good hotels and restaurants.
The Mandrake is surprisingly not as well-known as some and yet it is an absolute gem.
Ranking, in our opinion, amongst the very best independent hotels in the capital.