When you think of this infamous shopping strip, a relaxing spot to rest your weary legs and gorge on delicious grub, might not spring to mind. What the ever-heaving Oxford Street does represent to many are scenarios of fighting through crowds, hawkers on every corner and overpriced waffles and pretzels sold at street stands. Well, next time you’re in the area, you can put your crusty old tourist-trap pastry down and head on over to Selfridges, because there is a pop-up Italian restaurant on its rooftop that will be your oasis on Oxford.
Introducing Alto – the latest foray from the San Carlo group, the folks behind Fumo, Cicchetti and Gran Café – accessible by an express lift in Selfridges that will transport you to a leafy corridor studded with Italian chinotto fruit and floral arches. Make sure to stop at the selfie bench before entering the restaurant, because your Insta-feed will certainly be better for it.
The restaurant is divided in two, one part under a retractable roof for those (many) days when London’s weather disappoints, and a terrace section for an alfresco spritz in summer. We visited on a cloudy, cold day – so perched at a small table by the window with blankets over our legs – felt like the perfect compromise. The space is decorated like a sun-drenched patio in the Riviera – all foliage, pastel blue pillows and crisp white linen. Citrus fruit adorn the railings, lanterns line the walls and wicker chairs keep the patio theme going.
All produce, which is mainly seasonal, comes straight from some of the top Italian producers. The menu is classic Italian, but if you come for breakfast, you can indulge in all the usual brunch options like eggs benedict, bacon baps, avo on toast, yogurt bowls and oats. The poached eggs were perfectly done, smothered in Hollandaise and wedged atop a leafy bundle of greenery. Banana slices were piled high on the hearty oats bowl, which made for an extra warming and filling way to start the day.
Perhaps the perfect spot for some R&R pre, post or during your shopping spree – and the luxurious setting won’t break the bank either, with reasonable prices and options for every palate.