The 1922 HQ of the Port of London Authority is a lofty Palladian space of impressive double-volumed interiors – perfect, in other words, as the setting of the Four Seasons Hotel’s second London outpost. And in the hands of less experienced designers, it might have been equally easy for its flagship in-house restaurant Mei Ume to have been lost amid those grand proportions.
Happily, Hong Kong-based design studio AB Concept’s Ed Ng and Terence Ngan worked all the tricks in their bag to create an intimately scaled space for their first UK-based project. Working around the original columns, the designers mixed red lacquer frames with bronze and metallic motifs; enamel painted glass and hand-painted panels with silk embroidery and thin-framed borders around banquettes.
All this makes for a head-turning setting for the menu which takes its cues from the restaurant’s name, a Chinese-Japanese hybrid that apparently means ‘plum blossom’. On the table, this translates into a bi-cultural mix of dishes – ideal for indecisive diners who can’t decide between head chef and Royal China alum Tony Truong’s two-course Peking duck, and crispy noodles with stir-fried lobster; ex-Yauatcha Derrick Chen’s truffle and wild mushroom dumplings; or sushi chef and Sake no Hana alum Mun Seok Choi’s soft shell crab uramaki laced with mango and daikon.