Margaret Crow and Brett Redman launch their second restaurant, Neptune, with interiors by Crow and Russell Sage Studio.
Tucked into a corner of the Principal, Bloomsbury’s new hotel, Neptune is the highly anticipated second restaurant from Brett Redman and Margaret Crow. The duo behind The Richmond in Hackney, Redman and Crow have created a completely new seafood-focused menu for their new restaurant, blending Redman’s cooking with Crow’s eye for style and sophistication.
Overlooking Russell Square, the Principal boasts interiors by Tara Bernerd - but the hotel wisely left the team behind Neptune to their own devices when it came to designing the new restaurant. Working with Crow to revive the existing Grade II listed dining room was Russell Sage Studio; established in 2005, the renowned interior design studio has built a reputation for creating unique, luxurious spaces, with Neptune being the latest of their stunning restaurant projects.
Image: Carol Sachs
A gleaming, pewter-topped oyster bar takes pride of place in the centre of Neptune; peach walls and ceiling keep things bright and fun, while the art deco banquettes and graphic wooden floor add an elegant touch. Near the restaurant’s entrance, there is also a blush bar area – a snug spot to sip on one of Neptune’s extensive, nautical-themed cocktails. The eclectic aesthetic includes an array of potted plants scattered and hung about the restaurant; splashes of teal create unexpected, unique colour combinations.
To find out more about Neptune and its dazzling design, we spoke to Crow to find out what her visions and influences were for the space. “The original design of the room, by Charles Fitzroy Doll, is almost identical to the dining room of the RMS Titanic,” Crow begins. “[It] led to the nautical theme and ‘Neptune’ being born. We also love the connotations Neptune has with both the seas and the stars.”
Image: Steven Joyce
She mentions that it was not just the original design of the room that inspired the space, but also the area surrounding the Principal hotel. “We wanted to continue the creative tradition of [Bloomsbury, which] has always been infamous for its artistic residents and their wild parties,” says Crow. “We wanted [Neptune] to feel like a house party all of the time, in the same spirit as the Bloomsbury Set - it’s a ramshackle aesthetic with no rules.”
As with any new project, there were also challenges that the team behind Neptune faced. “Brett and I were two Hackney residents setting up in this incredibly historic hotel,” explains Crow. “We wanted the restaurant to feel like a destination unto itself and not seen as the ‘norm’ hotel restaurant; we had to put a lot of energy into giving Neptune a truly unique look and feel, while fitting with the beautiful hotel and history of the venue.”
Image: Steven Joyce
Discussing the influences behind her design for Neptune, Crow mentions, “One of our biggest influences for the design was the legendary style of British interior designer David Nightingale Hicks. He’s famous for his bold use of colour and mixing antique and modern furnishings - our two-tone geometric floor takes direct inspiration from Hick’s famous corridor carpet in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. We’ve included other vintage elements too, such as lava lamps, petticoat chandeliers, and specially sourced vintage shell lamps.”
The walls of Neptune are adorned with artworks which have been curated by Antonia Marsh, which will go on to become a rolling exhibition series in the space. “We wanted every detail of Neptune to be thoughtfully designed and to embody our ideals,” shrugs Crow. “It only felt natural to include artwork in the space and why not take the chance to display works of multiple, incredibly talented artists?” The first artist to display works in Neptune is the emerging painter George Rouy, who is known for his charged, hypnotic paintings of figures, flora and fauna.
Image: Carol Sachs
The choices for Neptune’s design extend further than just the interiors; from the restaurant’s branding and logo down to its menu and tableware, subtle nods to the restaurant’s themes can be seen everywhere. These touches were hand-drawn by New York and London-based design duo Craig & Karl; the duo was inspired by 1960s counterculture, and has used their illustrations to play on Neptune’s cosmic, oceanic and mythological connotations.
“The Neptune universe is a true collaboration; artists, designers, chefs and stylists have all come together to create it,” Crow says. This is true even for the restaurant’s uniforms, which were designed with BLOUSE by Geoffrey J Finch to be functional, approachable and stylish. Neptune’s co-founder elaborates, saying, “We made Neptune a celebration of all of our passions, and a collaborative effort to create a whole world - not just a restaurant.”
Image: Carol Sachs
“While of course, diners can expect honest food made of the finest quality ingredients, we also want them to join us in the fun of the Neptune world,” continues Crow. “I think diners can immediately feel that every detail has been considered carefully. There has been an amazing reaction to the relaxed, creative atmosphere that all of the details and freedom from rules creates.”
Crow smiles; “We wanted Neptune’s identity to be unique and memorable!” Creating a decadent atmosphere that the scandalous Bloomsbury Set would have surely felt at home in, Neptune is a playful, stylist affair – and has an enchanting seafood-centred menu to match. Redman and Crow's second restaurant is most certainly 'unique and memorable' - and for all the right reasons.