Nosh hour: Nova Food opens in London Victoria
A new development transforms the transport hub of SW1 from an interchange to a dynamic destination for foodies
Every year, more than 83 million people travel through London Victoria station. The area has long been known as a transport hub but following a hefty £2bn investment, Victoria is steadily shifting its reputation as simply a place to pass through and the latest development to spring up in SW1 looks set to put it firmly on London's culinary map.
Nova is an expansive mixed-use scheme covering some 897,000sq ft of space across five inter-connecting buildings. When fully opened later this year, it will be home to plush apartments, offices, retail space and a landscaped public area complete with newly commissioned contemporary art.
Nova carries all the hallmarks of the other local developments masterminded by Land Securities, the developer spearheading Victoria's revival. So far, the investment has proved fruitful, with a flock of eminent brands including Jimmy Choo, Rolls-Royce and Labelux choosing Victoria as their base over London's more traditionally "fashionable" districts. Nova's biggest draw, however, is its 85,000sq ft restaurant quarter, Nova Food, which has attracted some of the biggest and best names in the industry.
Restaurants already open at Nova Food include Sourced Market, Greenwood and Timmy Green, the latest venture from investment banker turned restaurateur Prue Freeman, a pioneer of the ever-popular Aussie brunch.
Other signings due to open soon include sourdough pizzeria Franco Manca, Vagabond, Danish bakery Ole & Steen, New York fast-food joint Shake Shack and rock 'n' roll ramen bar Bone Daddies. Nova's substantial size and slick, contemporary aesthetic offers restaurateurs the chance to add their own unique stamp to the development.
Another recent opening comes from high-end gastropub chain ETM Group. Greenwood is a huge, two-storey establishment where, alongside the quirky decor, you'll find an all-day dining restaurant, pub, sports lounge and, intriguingly, a Blink Brow Bar.
Greenwood, among Nova's 17 restaurants and three kiosks, reflects Londoners' increasingly ambitious appetites. New from D&D London group is Aster, a Scandi-French restaurant headed up by Finnish chef Helena Puolakka, who previously earned her stripes at three-Michelin star restaurants La Tante Claire and Pierre Gagnaire. Adding yet more culinary clout is the imminent opening from Jason Atherton, whose latest venture Hai Cenato (Italian for 'have you had dinner?') is the first Italian eatery under Atherton's Social Company restaurant group. The menu takes inspiration from Italian-New York cuisine, featuring risottos, pasta, pizza and grilled dishes. Diners can also visit its standalone bar The Drunken Oyster, which serves classic Italian cocktails with a modern twist and pre-made tipples on tap.
Joining Atherton is another of Britain's most famous chefs, Jamie Oliver, who will launch the second branch of his fire-based cooking restaurant Barbecoa. Another barbecue-themed joint is the highly anticipated Stoke House from restaurateur Will Ricker, who will also open a second branch of The Juice Well. Adam White, founder of hugely popular all-day brasserie The Riding House Cafe will add to his portfolio with a similar concept eatery. The Rail House Cafe, a nod to its neighbouring station, is described by White as the "evolved concept of the Riding House Cafe", offering the trademark modern cafe cuisine the capital has grown to know and love.
Retail leasing director at Land Securities, David Atcherley-Symes, is enthusiastic about Nova Food's appeal. "With the world's best talent arriving, and the continued strengthening of our domestic talents, London now acts as a smorgasbord of culinary delights. Nova will be a central location that brings all of this together in a fun, fresh setting.