Let’s start with the name. If A.O.K Kitchen & Bakery makes you think of a cute little rustic daytime café, think again. In reality this, the debut restaurant from Kelly Landesberg (daughter of Gary Landesberg – chairman of Mayfair’s Arts Club), is in fact a new, rather swish spot in Marylebone. Whilst upstairs is all fairy lights and creeping blossom canopy, we’re told downstairs is a proper (although no less swanky) bakery – serving freshly made patisserie, viennoiserie and specialty breads.
Kelly has poached her team from The Arts Club, MoMo’s and Chiltern Firehouse which gives you some idea of the high hopes for this place. Service is unexpectedly attentive, if you’re a local, you’ll no doubt be on first name terms with the waiters within a week.
We were here for dinner, where the evening menu has a Mediterranean vibe about it. We started with two huge fresh salads – one topped with slices of rare tuna and the other simply spiked with pomegranates and creamy manouri cheese and courgettes. A plate of three huge wild tiger prawns had kindly been halved for us, allowing us to access the chermoula marinated meat with barely any mess. We could have been in a quaint little harbour town with the sun on our skin (were it not for the fact we could hear the rain hammering down outside). Although at £34, this dish isn’t cheap and you’ll need a side. Homemade gnocchi with aubergine, rocket and manchego was suitably comforting.
We didn’t actually realise this until after we’d left and actually read the press release properly but the whole menu is completely free from refined sugar and limited in dairy and gluten. In fact we were asked of any allergies when we sat down and was bought a selection of bread, including gluten free slices.
We were celebrating my friends recent engagement and that friendly service came through with our rhubarb & coconut ‘almost’ cheesecake arriving with a special congratulations message swirled onto the plate.
Kelly says ‘I feel really lucky to have the opportunity to be opening my first restaurant surrounded by the love and support of such an amazing team. We all feel very privileged to be bringing a new space to Marylebone – it’s always felt like there is a strong sense of family community there, and I really hope A.O.K can be part of that’