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Home Brands Café Lapérouse Sets Sail for London – WWD

Café Lapérouse Sets Sail for London – WWD

From afar, Café Lapérouse’s latest location within the courtyard of the Raffles Hotel in London looks like a gemstone-shaped spaceship from a superhero franchise. Its futuristic shape forms a striking contrast to the Baroque-style Old War Office Building it nestles in.

But walking into the warmly lit pavilion, designed by the London-based studio DaeWha Kang Design, you are instantly transported to a classic Parisian café with a hint of Art Nouveau flair — cue the seashell chairs, petal-like columns and the mosaic glass canopy.

The interior was envisioned by Cordélia de Castellane, Dior Maison’s artistic director. She took inspiration from the travels of the 18th-century French naval officer and explorer Jean-François de Lapérouse, who shared the same name as the restaurant.

Café Lapérouse takes up two additional rooms in the main building, the Lobby Orient and Salon Orient, which are only open in the evening. The pavilion, meanwhile, is open all day. The Lobby Orient features grandiose displays of the restaurant’s pastries, while the Salon Orient offers a fine dining menu with bold wallpaper in hues of scarlet and lavish chandeliers.

The restaurant offers an array of French classics throughout the day that include Croque Monsieur; Burgundy snails in the shell with parsley butter; sole with meunière butter and capers; the Rum Baba Royal whipped cream, and the “Belle Otero” sundae with vanilla, strawberry, pistachio, hazelnut ice cream.

Dish served at Café Lapérouse London

Dish served at Café Lapérouse London.

Courtesy of Café Lapérouse

Introduced in 2021 at the Hôtel de la Marine in Paris, which was occupied by the Ministry of the French Navy till 2015 on Place de la Concorde, Café Lapérouse can be seen as a modern interpretation of the legendary restaurant Lapérouse on the Left Bank. Founded in 1766, it was the first restaurant to be awarded three Michelin stars from 1933 to 1968.

In 2018, Benjamin Patou, founder and chief executive officer of Moma Group, purchased Lapérouse alongside investors like Antoine Arnault, head of communications and image at luxury conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and chairman of Loro Piana.

Dish served at Café Lapérouse London

Dish served at Café Lapérouse London.

Courtesy of Café Lapérouse

Café Lapérouse London is part of a major regeneration of the 107-year-old Old War Office, which used to host Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service that developed into MI5 and MI6. It had more than 1,000 rooms linked by two-and-a-half miles of corridors and inspire Ian Fleming’s James Bond series. When Winston Churchill served as the secretary of state for war from 1919 to 1921, he occupied a grand suite of offices there.

In 2016, after it was sold by the Ministry of Defense to the Hinduja Group and Onex Holding for more than 350 million pounds on a 250-year lease, the building underwent an elaborate six-year renovation to restore its former glory and host the Raffles Hotel, residences, and a slew of dining concepts.

In an interview with WWD, Patou says he simply could not say “no” to a rare opportunity like this.

“When a friend introduced me to the Hinduja family, I came to London and visited the OWO when it was under construction. I fell in love with the building’s history and its association with people like Winston Churchill and MI5. It was fully 100 percent matching Lapérouse’s brand. In Paris, it was set in a very patrimonial location at Concord in the Hôtel de la Marine. It was quite similar to being in the courtyard of the OWO,” he says.

Many restaurants under the Moma Group in Paris are top picks for luxury brands. L’Arc, a nightclub near the Champs-Élysées, for example, was favored by Riccardo Tisci for his Givenchy-era after parties, while Manko, a Parisian-Peruvian cabaret below the famous Théâtre du Rond-Point on Avenue Montaigne, saw the likes of Olivier Rousteing and Peter Dundas dancing fashion week nights away.

Patou anticipated that Café Lapérouse would attract a similar crowd in no time in London.

“I think fashion leaders would want to experience this type of grand building. We opened at the end of September, unfortunately, two weeks after London Fashion Week. But I can assure you we have had a lot of requests to organize fashion events,” he says.

In terms of the quality of the food, Patou believes that the London location might be better supplied than the Paris one.

“I shouldn’t have said that, but it’s true. The produce [from the British Isles] is fantastic, especially the seafood from Scotland. We have business in St. Barths in the Caribbean. These little islands are in the middle of nowhere. All the produce is imported, but our restaurants in St. Barths are fantastic in offering fine dining experiences. Nowadays with globalization, you can source all the best products wherever and whenever you want,” Patou touts.

Salon Orient inside Café Lapérouse London

The Salon Orient inside Café Lapérouse London.

Courtesy of Café Lapérouse

Following the opening of the London location, Café Lapérouse will enter the Gulf region with a branch in the new shopping mall Jeddah Walk in December, and open its first U.S. location next summer at the upscale shopping destination Bal Harbour Shops in Miami.

Since 1997, Moma Group has grown to become a global hospitality player with more than 30 restaurants and event venues in Paris, Lyon, Saint-Tropez, Marseille, Athens, Doha, St. Barths and now London.

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