WestEndExtra

The independent London newspaper

Wonder Woman and Batman, coming to a restaurant near you

08 March, 2019 — By The Xtra Diary

Cosplay comic capers with Batman and Wonder Woman, above, at a New York conference. PHOTO: CARTER McKENDRY, NEW YORK, 2016, WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

THEMED restaurants lead a strange life in the centre of town: food critics say they do not like places that rely on gimmicks to get customers through the door, but the continuing success of quirky diners that are popping up hither and thither show that we do like our surroundings to offer talking points, as well as what is served up on the plates.

Now Diary believes the award for the most eye- catching of its ilk can be made, as word reaches us that the former Titanic Bar in Brewer Street is set to have a massive makeover and re-emerge as a restaurant based on the heroes – and villains – from the DC Comic universe.

Yes, you’ve read that right.

The marvellous Art Deco basement at 77 Brewer Street, could, if local authority planners give it the green light, become a 300-plus covers eatery that has areas dedicated to the likes of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman.

It has a fascinating history, with the space originally built as part of the Lyons Corner House restaurant empire back on the late 1800s.

In the 1990s it became the The Titanic bar and grill, and a favoured hang-out for numerous names and faces.

Design idea for the new eatery

More recently restaurant group Mash turned it in to a successful steakhouse, and now, if permission is granted, the Brewer Street premises will be given a DC make-over. We hear there will be a bar called Pennyworths, which any Bat fan knows is Alfred the Butler’s surname; an Iceberg Lounge where The Penguin would be found; and another based on the Arkham Asylum, where The Joker hailed from.

The site’s quirky background already includes an interesting interior and was once kitted out by one of the most celebrated designers of the interwar period, Oliver Bernard.

Bernard’s story is worth recounting for those not au fait with it.

He never had any formal architectural training but worked at first as a theatre set designer in Manchester. In 1901 he joined the London-based scenery designer Walter Han and then a few years later travelled across the Atlantic and worked in both New York and the Boston Opera House.

During the First World War he came home, and travelled on the ill-fated Lusitania, the ship that German submarines sunk. Having survived the disaster he found work painting camouflage for the British Army before returning to set design in the West End.

Other prestigious jobs saw him decorate the 1924 Empire Exhibition at Wembley and, a year later, the Paris International Exhibition.

By the late 1920s  he was employed by the famous caters J Lyons and Company, and was given a brief to oversee a radical redesign of their many prominent cafés and restaurants.

Those he worked on include rooms at leading hotels such as the Strand Palace, The Cumberland and the Regent Palace, as well as the famous Piccadilly-based Trocadero restaurant and a huge number of their famous corner houses.

He created the grand entrance for the Brewer Street building and its gorgeous interiors, which feel like something that would be at home in Gotham City and the Art Deco feel that Batman stories draw heavily on.

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