AOK Kitchen & Bakery is the brainchild of Kelly Landesberg, who created the concept to fill what she saw as a gap for a feel-good eating environment.
“The idea was based on my own dietary requirements and feeling like there wasn’t somewhere in London that accommodated everyone’s needs, whether you’re vegan, you eat meat, or you’re gluten-free,” Landesberg tells British Baker.
At street-level, the restaurant area has 80 covers, including outdoor seating, and serves a selection of fresh, seasonal produce such as fish, salads and pasta.
Downstairs, the bakery is a sea of calm, with a curved ceiling giving a cosy feel, echoed by the small ‘snug’ located next to the front door.
“I wanted the bakery to be elegant and match the light colours of the restaurant upstairs, but also wanted it to have Mediterranean vibes,” says Landesberg.
Since opening only a few weeks ago, Landesberg says customers have told her AOK was just what the area needed.
“We’re giving people a better understanding of eating healthily,” she adds. “It’s not about being pressured to eat a certain way, it’s eating what you want to eat, but knowing that it has been delivered to you in the best way,” she adds.
The bakery menu, developed by head baker and pastry chef Sebastien Chiono, was over a year in the making. It comprises cakes, pastries, tarts and breads, catering to a plethora of dietary requirements.
Its organic rye sourdough uses grains from Gilchesters Organics, and it also offers a gluten-free chia seed sourdough, a gluten-free multi-seed loaf and a Couronne Bordelaise.
The site’s current bestseller is Raspberry Bostok, a vegan and gluten-free cake comprising raspberries with vegan almond cream and a gluten-free brioche slice, which was developed for AOK by Chiono. He also occasionally makes a non-vegan, non-gluten-free version at Mayfair members organisation The Arts Club.
All the items are baked on-site in the shared kitchen, which is underground and accessible from both the bakery and restaurant. Being underground, it has low ceiling heights, a key consideration for Chiono when selecting bakery equipment. He and his six-strong team – two bakers and four pastry chefs – use an Italian Zeta Oven, a Caplain mixer and a Hengel prover.
AOK Kitchen & Bakery, Marylebone, London
Who: Kelly Landesberg, founder of AOK Kitchen & Bakery.
What: A 80-cover restaurant with an underground bakery, offering eat-in and takeaway options.
Where: 52-55 Dorset Street, Marylebone, London W1U 7NQ
When: The restaurant opened last month, with the bakery following one week later. The project had been four years in the making.
Why: “I felt like there wasn’t anywhere in London that accommodated for every dietary requirement – others are either really healthy or deep-fried and covered in butter. I wanted to create a feel-good environment with no pressure to follow a specific diet,” Landesberg tells us.
Bread: The menu includes a selection of speciality breads – some free from gluten – that are produced using ancient grains from Gilchesters Organics.
Design: The interior design was created by founder Landesberg, who was inspired by the Mediterranean. “It’s amazing to see your vision come to life, and see people enjoying it,” she says.
Free-from: Every item on the menu is free from refined sugar, with a multitude of dairy-, egg- and gluten-free options also available.
Underground: The bakery is located below the restaurant, accessible by an outdoor staircase. Landesberg said she thought the space had a lot of potential.
Location: “It’s a really popular site, it has always been known as a great location,” Landesberg says of the premises, which sits between Baker Street and Marylebone High Street.
It’s all ok: The concept of AOK was inspired by Landesberg’s favourite quote: ‘Everything will be ok in the end, and if it’s not ok, it’s not the end’.