Taylor Swift visits Casa Cruz, the celebrity flytrap in Notting Hill

 (Haydon Perrior/ES)
(Haydon Perrior/ES)

What is it about Casa Cruz? From the outside it looks like any other high-end Notting Hill bistro, save for a gleaming copper door which sets it apart but it is, in the end, just a door. Such chicness is not hard to find in W11. Nor is good food these days, though whether that can be found at Casa Cruz is up for debate. Certainly it must be better than in 2015, when the Standard’s then long-serving food critic Fay Maschler bestowed the place just two stars out of five. “This could be one of the first high-end venues run by an AI kitchen operative,” Maschler observed.

No matter: Casa Cruz remains the current choice of celebrities. Proper ones, too, and at bamboozling scale. On Tuesday night, Taylor Swift pooled together an A-list crowd: Cara Delavigne, Kate Moss, Stella McCartney, Andrew Scott, Phoebe Waller Bridge, Haim sisters Este and Danielle, music legend Chrissie Hynde and writer Lena Dunham. No word on what they ate, or what time they left, but I’m told on good authority that Sting went too, even if he is missing from the showbiz snaps being bandied around.

Swift is in the UK for her Eras tour. She is the most famous person on the planet right now. And her restaurant in London is Casa Cruz.

 (Haydon Perrior/ES)
(Haydon Perrior/ES)

What’s it all about? Well, modern, glitzy South American-inspired dishes — starters such as octopus salad (£22) and prawn carpaccio (£28); main courses from lemon sole (£39) to fillet steak (£50) — elegant surroundings and staff unperplexed by names. Not to mention sparkling vibes and bolshie cocktails. The New York iteration is massive as well.

More to the point, apparently “it’s back”, big time, having fully recovered after the lockdown controversy when, in 2021, the restaurant was widely reported to have accepted £5,000 to host a party for Rita Ora, and which was then allegedly attended by celebs aplenty. A difficult time but whether the PR was negative, as some have suggested, is a little unconvincing.

“What happens in Casa, stays in Casa” has been said among the restaurant set on numerous occasions but such an ideal isn’t anything new. Restaurants of discretion have always existed in London and rightly so. More impressive is Casa’s staying power — it’s been a hotspot for years, counting Moss as a regular and welcoming David and Victoria Beckham, Sienna Miller, and Tom Cruise relatively frequently. Any others? Naomi Campbell, Rosie Huntington-Whitely, Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice… Reese Witherspoon was there only this week, the night before Swift.

The recent reopening of Julie’s, another West London classic, hints at something broader: that restaurants’ magic is again being properly honoured and that everyone is noticing and hoping to be noticed and wanting to be in the thrum of London in a roaring and uncompromising fashion. It might be that things were calmer last year and had been for a little while. This is especially pertinent considering that for decades swish restaurants have been playgrounds; meeting posts for all sparkling industries to collide, the musicians and the actors and the sporting greats. In the olden days, mobsters. The more stars, the better.

Rarely, though, does a restaurant boast such a rapturous appeal as Casa Cruz. Its guestlist is even madder than previously mentioned. More names? Why not. We have Leonardo DiCaprio, Noel Gallagher, George Clooney, Cate Blanchett, Dua Lipa, Stormzy, Hugh Jackman, Ryan Reynolds, Santan Dave, Edward Enniful, Charlotte Tilbury, and Aloïs, hereditary Prince of Liechtenstein. No, not all at the same time. But all this year.

Glamour on such a scale is rare these days. Casa Cruz appears to be owning it, and it is a sight to behold.

123A Clarendon Rd, London W11 4JG, casacruz.co.uk