Lavish new Mayfair spot to showcase photographic art

Former Pétrus head chef Larry Jayasekara has teamed up with photographic art gallerist Tim Jefferies to open his first restaurant as patron, The Cocochine in Mayfair.

Opening this month, the restaurant is small but lavishly appointed, with “old school” touches such as booking by phone only, no turning of tables and a fully à la carte menu. The main ground floor has just eight tables seating a maximum of 28 guests, while the first floor features a seven-seater chef’s counter overlooking an open kitchen.

The pièce de résistance is a private dining room on the top floor, beautifully fitted out and decorated with photography by artists including Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton, Irving Penn and Hiro.

The room is modelled on the entertaining space at Hamiltons, the photography gallery Tim has run for 39 years, and is pitched as an advance on the standard basement PDR. “For me, presentation and ambience are extremely important,” says Tim. “Photography is a difficult art form for people to understand when a print costs $800,000 and everyone is a photographer. I created a space where these rare, expensive and beautiful works can sing.”

The restaurant staff also stand to benefit from state-of-the-art facilities, including an in-house canteen/development kitchen, an office/recreation room and showers in adjacent buildings.

Larry arrived in the UK from his native Sri Lanka 21 years ago, and worked at the Waterside Inn, Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons and for Michel Bras in France before joining Pétrus. He won Chef of the Year in 2016.

His modern European cooking at The Cocochine will use ingredients from a regenerative farm in Northamptonshire and incorporate plenty of exotic influences, including the use of green cardomom and coconut flower treacle from Sri Lanka, while the bread course is a truffle bao. Larry says: “I really don’t want to serve things that everyone else serves.”

Named after Tim’s affectionate nickname for his daughter, The Cocochine is the latest example of the contemporary art world’s increasingly active involvement in hospitality. The Swiss art dealership Hauser + Wirth’s Artfarm offshoot now owns hotels and restaurants from Los Angeles to the Scottish Highlands, as well as London’s Groucho Club. In the past two years Frieze Art Fair founder Matthew Slotover has opened Toklas restaurant in London and Fort Road Hotel in Margate.

The Cocochine, at 38 Bruton Place in Mayfair, is scheduled to open by the end of October.

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