Tucked away behind a luminous copper door on Notting Hill’s famed Clarendon road, is Casa Cruz, which has acquired the reputation of London’s hottest restaurant since it opened its doors last July. But where's the sign? "What for? If you’re coming, you’re coming. We have a three month waiting list,” says Chilean financier-turned-restauranteur, Juan Santa Cruz, who single-handedly custom-designed the spot himself. From the copper and mahogany streaked walls and plush emerald banquettes, to the service trays, oil table lamps, and signature scent (a combination of vetiver and French rose “to soften it up”), Santa Cruz admits decor was his special ingredient. “I had a vision which I crystalized in the utmost detail,” he says. “It has a distinctive personality, a unique mind and soul, that can’t be found elsewhere.”
The design standout has quickly become a one-stop-shop from a night’s beginning to end. Sultry lighting and Brazilian Bossa Nova music set the tone for dinner, followed by classic rock n' roll which reverberates from the second floor smoking patio as the evening progresses. The place is packed until close. “A main point of Casa Cruz is that it’s a house with an intimate vibe, a private place where you can do whatever and nothing will ever be revealed,” says Santa Cruz. Except, of course, on Instagram, where the mixologist-manned oval copper bar and infinity bathroom mirrors have become staples on the accounts of those who frequent it, such as Alexia Niedzielski, Eugenie Niarchos, Noor Fares, Sabine Getty, Petra Palumbo, Natalie Massanet, and Zac Posen – to name a few.
The restaurant’s success is no surprise, given it’s Santa Cruz’s third foray into hospitality – his first two eateries are in the budding food capital of Buenos Aires, where the original Casa Cruz stands proud. A shared item on all menus are his famous ‘humitas’– a typical Chilean appetizer consisting of spiced corn, a dish he’s eaten since childhood. “It was our local food, it doesn’t sound very sexy, I know, but people go crazy for it,” he says.
Santa Cruz has a lot more to celebrate besides the one-year anniversary party he’ll throw at his London outpost in July. Not only does he have plans to expand to New York, but he’s working on bringing his other Buenos Aires restaurant, Isabel, to London’s Mayfair district in the beginning of 2017. “I want to create spaces where people can meet friends, fall in love, and do business,” he says. If Casa Cruz is any indication, his mission will likely be accomplished.
Calling Card The luminous copper door outside.
The Door Unless you have an in, expect a three month waiting list.
Best Night Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays.
Tribes Fashion editors, designers, starlets, bon vivants.
VIPs Victoria Beckham, Eva Longoria, Roger Vivier, Camille Seydoux, Zac Posen.
Cocktails start at £12.
Music Bossa Nova and Brazilian while you dine, rock n' roll when it’s time to party.
The Basics Casa Cruz, 123 Clarendon Road, W11 4JG.
Dinner Mon – Thurs: 6:30 p.m. – 11:30 p.m., Fri– Sat: 12-3 p.m., 6:30 p.m. – 11:30 p.m.. Bar open late. Sun: 12 p.m. – 3 p.m.
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