While seemingly facing extinction a year or so ago, since January there has been an outpouring of ideas and openings, with the website Hot Dinners estimating more than 200 new places will welcome diners this year.
Plenty are still ahead, with September traditionally marking a mad rush of new places to head to. Below are 15 of the most exciting to come.
“We want people to exhale, to relax… we want them to feel abundantly joyful,” says Great British menu regular Andi Oliver of her hopes for Wadadli, her delivery concept-turned-permanent kitchen. With partner Garfield Hackett, Oliver is hoping the British-Caribbean cooking that proved such a success over lockdown will draw the crowds to Hackney, and show a new side to Caribbean cuisine, too. As Oliver says: “It’s not all Bob Marley and 1975 and reggae. That’s not at all what we’re about. There’s a lot more here and we’re going to prove it.”
Open now, 96 White Post Lane, Hackney, E9, wadadlikitchen.com
The Seafood Bar
Already big in its native Amsterdam, the fruits de mer platters are the thing to have. On them will be artfully stacked lobster, North Sea crab, razor clams, langoustines and shrimps. The fishmonger behind the Seafood Bar, Fons de Visscher, is into sustainability, which is in sharper focus in the restaurant world than ever before.
Aug 28, 77 Dean Street, Soho, W1, theseafoodbar.com
The idea is an intriguing one, a marriage of Chinese and Indian cooking, inspired by Canton and Guangdong immigrants who made their home in Kolkata and Mumbai. It worked in Soho, but the group’s second iteration is set to be a rather expanded take on things. Food will include honey chilli duck served with steamed pancakes and frankly delicious-sounding saffron butter prawns, while there will also be two bars, lots of cocktails and wine from China, which is surprisingly uncommon in London.
Aug 28, 6 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, WC2, fattpundit.co.uk
The Water House Project
This one has been through a six-year process of refinement. Chef Gabriel Waterhouse began the project in his Bethnal Green flat in 2015, running 12-seat supper clubs that proved an instant hit. Waterhouse’s concept is “social fine dining” and he’ll cook from an open kitchen, with space for 40 diners around him. Food will be Nordic inspired, spread out over nine courses, with the menu changing each month — and it comes in at what seems a fair £99-a-head, including wine.
Sept 2, 1 Corbridge Crescent, Bethnal Green, E2, thewaterhouseproject.com
MiMi Mei Fair
Expect this to be as glam as they come. Jamavar founder Samyukta Nair is branching out with this three-storey townhouse, inspired by Shanghai in the Twenties. A high-end sharing menu of Chinese fare will be put together by former Hakkasan chef Peter Ho, with dishes including langoustines cooked with truffle, seabass in Shaoxing wine, and an array of dumplings and dim sum. The Peking duck, with its lacquered skin, looks particularly good.
Sept 7, 55 Curzon Street, Mayfair, W1, mimimeifair.com
The man behind this, Chet Sharma, has an astonishing pedigree: he helped launch Moor Hall, which now has two Michelin stars, and he’s spent a handful of years working to refine the JKS Restaurants offering — given the enormous success of the likes of Trishna and Hoppers, he’s clearly onto something. Bibi will specialise in what he calls “impactful” Indian cooking — with “the spicy, punchy flavour of my youth”. Expect it intricately done; Sharma says the “style comes from the Ledburys of the world, but my flavour profiles come from the Gymkhanas and Brigadiers”.
Sept 9, 42 North Audley Street, Mayfair, W1, bibirestaurants.com
Rohit Ghai is on a roll; the chef is only just back after opening a place in Doha, while his Chelsea spot, Kutir, stays hummingly busy with its regulars. Manthan sees Ghai back in Mayfair — he made his name on these streets at Gymkhana and Jamavar — and he’ll be cooking the expected top-drawer Indian. Half of the menu will be dedicated to vegetarian plates but will also star the likes of ghati masala prawns, a goat shami kebab served in a bone marrow sauce and a riff on ram ladoo, the street food snack popular in Delhi.
Mid Sept, 49 Maddox St, Mayfair, W1, manthanmayfair.co.uk
Ekstedt at The Yard
What was briefly home to Robin Gill’s The Yard is to become Ekstedt, named for its chef, the “Godfather of wood-fired cooking,” Niklas Ekstedt. The Saturday Kitchen cook, who last year starred alongside Heston Blumenthal in Netflix and Channel 4 cookery show Crazy Delicious, will bring London his “old Nordic” cooking, which sees just about everything done over wood grills. That means reindeer plated up with black pudding, and oysters cooked with flaming butter.
Sept 17, 3-5 Great Scotland Yard, St James’s, SW1, ekstedtattheyard.com
Former Polpo mover-and-shaker Russell Norman is back on the scene. Trattoria Brutto is what he calls his place “with a Tuscan accent” — mimicking his favourite restaurants in Florence and Sienna. “You know when you hear chefs talk about ‘a traditional recipe with my own twist’?” he says, “I don’t want any twists. I want as few twists as possible.” Gone are the Polpo hallmarks — small plates are out — but expect Norman’s usual attention to detail in both the design and menu; he promises this will offer a real sense of the things he truly loves. With his “dream chef” a “95-year-old Italian granny”, head in for the likes of stew ribollita, pappardelle with wild boar and veal chops. Oh, and great big jugs of Sangiovese.
Sept 23, 36-37 Greenhill Rents, Spitalfields, EC1, brutto.co.uk
Though principally a “wine drinkers’ clubhouse”, the news that former Laughing Heart, P Franco and Chiltern Firehouse chef Seb Myers is in the kitchen makes the restaurant an intriguing one. He’ll oversee a 40-cover site, modern French in flavour.
Mid Sept, 322-324 Acton Mews, Haggerston, E8, planque.co.uk
The Avocado Show
Apparently avocados are still enough of a thing that an entire restaurant dedicated to them is opening in the centre of town. Whether one’s enthused or not is irrelevant — this millennial-bait is certain to flood Instagram next month. No surprise avocado toast stars, but it will also serve breadcrumbed “avo fries” and for its burger, the chefs deploy an avocado “bun” — quite literally just two halves of an avocado. This London branch will be the first UK outpost for this Dutch group, but a further eight sites across the country are said to be in the works.
Late Sept, 6 Princes St, Oxford Circus, W1, theavocadoshow.com
Finsbury Park’s Auld Triangle will jingle-jangle no more as it is soon to be the Plimsoll, and run by the Four Legs team, who’ve picked up a sterling reputation for their time flipping (excellent) burgers at Islington’s Compton Arms. While Four Legs are keen the Plimsoll remains a proper boozer, during the week the food will be the thing: oysters, meats cured in-house, fresh seafood, their own cheese and those famous patties too.
Late Sept, 52 St Thomas’s Road, Finsbury Park, N4, fourlegs.kitchen
Gordon Ramsay is a restless man; this week he’s opened the Bread Street Café in Ealing — the first outpost of his popular Bread Street Kitchen — and now it seems just the one restaurant per hotel doesn’t satiate the chef. Ramsay is expanding within the Savoy, where he presently runs the famous Grill. Now he’s set to take over what was seafood restaurant Kaspar’s with the River Restaurant. It will do similar things to Kaspar’s — oysters, caviar, turbot, all that good stuff — with the Grill’s top man in the kitchen, Matt Worswick, looking after it all.
Late Sept, The Savoy, Strand, WC2, gordonramsayrestaurants.com
All looked lost for Langan’s, the brasserie off Piccadilly that in the Seventies and Eighties fed royalty, rock stars and co-owner Michael Caine’s glitziest mates, all while the man who gave the place its name, Peter Langan, went around doing things like putting out fires with bottles of vintage Champagne and biting princess’s ankles. It appeared to close forever during the pandemic but now restaurateurs Graziano Arricale and James Hitchen have taken over, promising to “bring it back to its rightful place at the centre of Mayfair”.
Expect it to be a similarly showbiz affair; many dishes will be finished with a flourish at the table, and there’s a members’ club opening upstairs too. No word on whether there’ll be a supply of Champagne in case of a blaze, though.
Mid Oct, Stratton St, Mayfair, W1, langansbrasserie.com.