Restaurant Review: Apricity
Award-winning chef Chantelle Nicholson originally trained as a lawyer. Maybe this is why, with her new restaurant Apricity in Mayfair, she presents such an airtight case for why restaurants should be offering low-waste, sustainable menus. Her new eatery is the ultimate evidence that a menu can be planet-conscious and still get top marks.
This oh-so-trendy new venture is Chantelle’s first solo, permanent space – and what an exciting debut.
Enter, and you will forget that you are in Mayfair. It has all the demarcation of a shabby-chic East London pop-up; intentionally forgoing complete renovation upon moving into these premises, the walls remain strikingly unpainted and bare. The interiors were designed by Object Space Place, a like-minded design company that has low-waste at the heart of its work.
Sustainability really is present in every feature of this restaurant. No paper menus are provided (guests scan a QR code, or borrow a tablet should they not have access to a capable smart-phone), and everything, from seats to tiling to toilet basins, are sourced secondhand or created from recycled materials. The seats are surprisingly comfy given they are made from old Coca-Cola bottles. Around you, the waiting staff walk in their uniforms created from recycled plastics, and above your head pendant lamps hang, created from oyster shells. This is a very conscious interior design scheme, which has added thought and craftsmanship to the process of upcycling.
Vegetables take pride of place on the Apricity menu. Chantelle has always been ‘veg-forward’ as a chef, and she tells us after our meal that she thinks vegetables are frequently side-lined, but through her menus she wants to draw out and showcase the delicate flavours that only feature within our five-a-days. Particularly important to this is the seasonality of her produce, which is picked fresh locally. For Chantelle and her team, talks of a ‘circular economy’ are not just talk, as one recipe’s byproduct will form a core component in another.
I was particularly enamoured by an amuse bouche that embodied this same idea of circularity: a savoury chickpea donut with a heavy-umami caramelised red onion filling. For this appetite teaser, excess chickpeas from other dishes are brought into play, and it was surprisingly light where you might otherwise expect the pulse to taste dense.
The menu then offers starters ranging from braised ox tongue, accompanied with ricotta gnudi, to carrots, cashew and carrot top pesto (this spin on pesto incorporates an otherwise wasted byproduct in a delicious way). Dishes like Shio Koji cured pollock (sautéd in sambal butter and paired with Shetland mussels) provide variety. Vegans and vegetarians are also well-catered for here, but it is by no means a requirement to eat plant-based. For my own main, I eat crispy summer oyster and black pearl mushrooms which are topped with an ‘XO sauce’ and wild garlic. The variety of textures to the mushrooms make this main a joy to eat – and I soak up moreish green sauce afterwards with fresh bread that deserves attention all on its own.
The drinks are fabulous, too. Frankie, who is the restaurant manager – and who very kindly occupies my friend in conversation when I arrive late thanks to the District Line – explains that all options on the wine list are biodynamic. Biodynamic wine is having a moment right now, much like this restaurant; sitting somewhere between sustainability and spirituality, the process somehow makes the wine more characterful.
So, with court adjourned, how does the jury conclude? Chantelle presents brilliant evidence for the low-waste case. The menu shines a spotlight on the versatility of byproducts like aquafaba and carrot tops, and through the creativity of their inclusion, the menu feels genuinely adventurous. Enjoy the great taste in genuinely cool surroundings.
The final ruling: This restaurant is low-waste, but, trust us, it’s no-waste of a visit. A must. Book Apricity online.
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