The new, recently opened AOK Kitchen & Bakery creates a feel-good atmosphere for its diners, combining enchanting interiors with a seasonally focused menu.
Recently opened in the heart of Marylebone, AOK Kitchen & Bakery brings a fresh, nourishing all-day dining experience to London’s restaurant scene. Founded by Kelly Landesberg, the new restaurant focuses on creating a feel-good atmosphere for diners, with dishes inspired by the Mediterranean and California, and featuring many gluten and diary free options.
The kitchen and bakery are split into two parts, with A.O.K Kitchen (the restaurant) spread across the ground floor and the A.O.K Bakery tucked downstairs in a basement, which can be accessed from a staircase outside. Both spaces have been designed to create a sense of “feel good fun”, mixed with sophistication and opulence.
Upstairs in the A.O.K Kitchen, guests will immediately notice the space’s main feature: a collection of trees that spread overhead. Founder Landesberg says that these were inspired by the magical, ‘enchanted garden’ vision she had for the restaurant’s interiors. “I wanted the trunks and branches of the tree to be quite theatrical, and for the twisted branches to really emphasise the fairy tale aspect in a ‘not everything is at it seems’ way,” she says.
“That’s what people feel when they come in; everyone is fascinated by the trees and can’t work out if they’re real or not,” continues Landesberg. “The other inspiration was to compliment the fresh, nature inspired side of [the idea]. Nature is very grounding; I wanted to bring that into the restaurant. At night, you still feel that, but the fairy lights come on so it feels like you’re sitting under the stars.”
“I really feel like the trees and all the foliage design in the restaurant reflects the ethos of A.O.K, and how we want people to feel when they experience dining [here],” she says. Landesberg mentions that her aim for the restaurant was for it to become a magical destination, where diners “feel good mentally and physically. I think with the [combination of] food and the design, we’ve achieved this.”
As for diners’ reactions to the restaurant’s interiors, Landesberg says they have been wonderstruck. “People stop and talk about the trees when they come in,” she reveals. “They touch the blossom and wonder if it’s real, and it’s really amazing to watch. I wanted to make sure the transformation between night and day was spot on; that was a major part of the brief I gave to Palm Brokers and it’s where adding the fairy lights came in.”
“You would think something as simple as fairy lights would be easy to execute, but it was actually really challenging,” she continues. “They had to be a certain type, shape, and colour and also be safe. When you see the fairy lights come on or you walk in for dinner, you feel like you are sitting under the stars in an enchanted garden. That was always the vision I had in my head, and I can’t thank Palmbrokers enough for making my vision come true.”
Responsible for installing the trees in the space, greenery specialist Palmbrokers mentions that creating this transformation from day to night was one of its biggest challenges for A.O.K’s interiors. “They go against almost every aspect of the day to day architecture and design,” says Palmbrokers’ Dorian van Braam. “Blending and integrating them into a functional space during the design & building process [was one of] the greatest challenges. Not a lot of it makes sense until it is all in place and for all to see.”
Explaining how the team installed the trees, van Braam says, “Once we had firmed up a 'look' and developed a concept with Kelly and the A.O.K team, I went about selecting the exact shapes and branch growth formations required to best fit the space and shape of the room. It is an involved and laborious task, but a key aspect. The trees themselves are engineered and sculpted in a modular fashion out of sustainably sourced limns from here in the UK; the exact method, technique and approach being pivotal to the sculptural, flowering feel of the trees, and their 'belonging' to the space itself.”
While the creeping vines and blooms line the walls and spread across the ceiling, the rest of the space has been filled with comfortable, classic furnishings, including dark wood tables, smart leather dining chairs, and a deep green leather booth. A.O.K Kitchen’s bar takes up one side of the main restaurant space and has been finished with polished wood; it is paired with a set of high, wicker-backed bar stools.
Down in the A.O.K Bakery, lighter tones have been used. A tan-yellow leather booth sits on one side of the space, complementing the neutral tones of the walls and bakery counter. Featuring a low, curved ceiling, the bakery creates a sense of cosiness and comfort. Both spaces feature gemstone marble floors and hand-painted silk wallpaper. For a more intimiate dinner setting, or for parties and events, diners can also choose to hire the ‘snug’, situated at the back of the restaurant.
Landesberg’s aim for A.O.K Kitchen & Bakery was for the restaurant to be an inclusive environment, with a menu that is seasonally focused, free from refined sugars and limited in dairy and gluten. A.O.K Kitchen’s beautiful design, which has been carefully thought out by the team, shows the pride they have in the space, and proves their impressive attention to detail. It’s a theme that spans across the restaurant, from the interiors to the food.