After four successive critically acclaimed years, the almighty House of Peroni has made a triumphant return to London for October 2014. Popping up in the quintessential square of Lincoln’s Inn Fields, this little snippet of Italian counter-culture is split over four floors, promising installation artwork, delicious cocktails and some damn fine fare. On hearing that the project has taken its inspiration wholly from the city of Rome and the Peroni Nastro Azzurro story, I thought "perché no?!", and set out on my merry way to Holborn to experience the House for myself.
The Space & Ambience
Home to some of London’s most prestigious law firms and charities, the square itself might seem like an odd choice for this type of pop-up. Surrounded by decadent architecture, steeped in tradition; the ultra-violet lights and bustling ambience of the House of Peroni stand out like a sore thumb. A beautiful, pulsing and bright sore thumb. To set the tone, the first thing you’re greeted with on entering is a multi-dimensional paper piece by installation pro UFO, which in itself was pretty impressive - and this was just the beginning. You can then expect much of the same across the two floors above, ranging from LED laden walls to aggressively bright, sterile rooms filled with abstract pieces. The route you take is really up to you, grab a drink at one of the bars, or find yourself a seat in one of the spaces; there's plenty of room for everyone.
We visited on a Thursday, so naturally there was a pretty after-work heavy crowd in attendance; though I don’t doubt this would differ on the weekends. That said it was a friendly vibe, with most groups, friends and couples keeping to themselves, exploring and enjoying the residence. Weirdly - though the atmosphere wasn’t particularly raucous - when adventuring through the UV-lit rooms, with a heavy soundtrack in tow, you can’t help feeling you’re at a party that’s just on the brink of really kicking off. Sadly, we didn’t wait around to see if it did; we had bigger fish to fry/eat.
Food & Drink
As aesthetically impressive as the rest of the building, the restaurant at the House of Peroni fronts authentic Italian cuisine in a completely contemporary setting. A single table seats the whole restaurant, which snakes and bends to create a maze like set-up. Each of the dishes promise a culinary expedition through traditional Roman cuisine, helpfully split into three menu options; meat, veg or fish. Usually cripplingly affected by food envy, I forcefully insisted politely requested that my partner in crime order differently to me on each course, to ensure we’d get to try pretty much every dish. Now, not to wax-lyrical too much, but the food was pretty special, really. Ariccia (with rabbit), Gricia al Mare (with octopus) and La Mugnaia (lemon sole, in hand-pressed pasta) - for one night we had it all. Drinks-wise – and although sponsored by a beer brand – the cocktails really steal the show. If you’re going for a drink before dinner, I’d highly recommend the Peroni hops-distilled Old Fashioned, and also make sure to try out one of the dinner 'wines', which in fact, are not wines at all – but I won’t ruin the surprise for you.
It’s easy to dismiss branded pop-ups as commercial, try-hard and soulless, but after my visit to the House of Peroni it's so clear to see they’re going above and beyond the call of duty, and in turn have created something totally unique. Open until 31st October, lose yourself in the House of Peroni whilst you still can. When in Rome and all that...