Latest opening: Lita

By Restaurant

- Last updated on GMT

Images: Beth Evans
Images: Beth Evans

Related tags Lita Wild Tavern Restaurant Luke Ahearne London

Marylebone has welcomed a new Mediterranean restaurant that serves gutsy food in a stylish setting.

What:​ Marylebone’s newest restaurant is a buzzy 80-cover dining room with space for an additional 20 on its front terrace that majors in live-fire Mediterranean cooking.

Who:​ Lita is from the team behind the Wild Tavern in Chelsea, which is also responsible for protein-focused restaurants Goodman, Burger & Lobster, Beast, and Zelman Meats, and Canadian-born restaurateur Daniel Koukarskikh. Its concept is down to Irish head chef Luke Ahearne, formerly head chef at Corrigan’s Mayfair, who has worked at restaurants in Ireland and London. Ahearne’s first taste of cooking was a Neven Maguire’s MacNean’s House & Restaurant in Cavan during a summer internship before joining his father’s Clonmel cafe, which he ran for two years from just the age of 18, before landing a job at Garrett Byrne’s Campagne restaurant in Kilkenny. He later moved to London and The Clove Club, transferring to its sister restaurant Luca after a year, where he stayed for four years before joining Corrigan’s Mayfair as head chef at just 29 years old.


The food:​ Ahearne serves up a seasonal menu that celebrates flavours of southern Europe, all cooked on the fire grill in the restaurant’s open kitchen. Portion sizes are hearty and the menu is ambitiously long but not to the detriment of quality, with Ahearne’s skill at the stove evident. Snacks include smoked Basque sardines with shallots and parsley; a chopped Hereford beef with proper shoestring fries; and, if you’re feeling flush, Petrosian Ossetra Royal Caviar with Neals Yard creme fraiche and chips (£160), while starters include terrine of ham hock, chicken, foie gras and black winter truffle; Dorset clams with mammole artichokes; and Limousin veal sweetbread with pomme puree and calcots. Mains, meanwhile, put the protein centre stage with standout dishes that include Cullyaw, heritage carrots, turnip, and Swiss chard; and Anjou poussin cassoulet with chorizo.

To drink:​ Lita’s wine list is heavy on the classics with an impressive champagne and sparkling offer and a major focus on French, although there are small selections from Italy, Spain, Austria and Germany and ‘other countries’. Five white, five reds and a rose are available by the glass and 375ml carafe but prices climb pretty quickly for the bottle selection. There’s scant few options under £60 and bottles in the French section rise pretty quickly to three figures, although the majority of wines from the rest of Europe and the world do come in under £100. Topping the list is a 2005 Domaine Leflaive ‘Les Pucelles’ Puligny-Montrachet for £1,100 for white and a 2012 Mugneret-Gibourg Ruchottes-Chambertin grand cru that edges in under £2k.

The vibe:​ The aim was to create “the ultimate neighbourhood bistro with a dynamic menu, excellent wine list and relaxed atmosphere,” according to Koukarskikh, and while Lita’s polished interior means its doesn’t quite have the feel of a bistro it has nailed the neighbourhood restaurant vibe. The interior design uses a warm, earthy colour palette for a rustic-yet-refined feel that makes good use of reclaimed terracotta tiles for the floor and which features a large, timber-clad bar with deep red, veined marble top, blood orange banquettes, and restored antique tables. Those looking for a more foodie experience can take a stool along the restaurant’s kitchen counter and watch chefs work at the open fire grill, which is described as being ‘reminiscent of a grand chateau kitchen’. The overall atmosphere is warm, well-heeled and family friendly, with staff more than happy to provide youngsters with expensive art books to flick through while their parents dine.

And another thing:​ Lita is short for ‘abuelita’, a Spanish term of endearment for grandmothers.

7-9 Paddington Street, London, W1U 5QH

Related topics Restaurant Openings Fine Dining