Is London dining in the grip of a Noughties nostalgia binge to rival the threatened Girls Aloud reunion? Le Comptoir Robuchon rebranded in September as aughts hotspot L’Atelier de Robuchon. Now Camden Lock’s long-forgotten Gilgamesh is being resurrected in Covent Garden, while Clap (no sniggering, please) is launching in Knightsbridge with a menu that could have been Xeroxed from Zuma or Nobu, Roka or Sumosan, or indeed any other pre-credit crunch modern Japanese. Well, “modern” meaning “circa 2005”.
Unfortunately, if you can remember the Noughties, you really were there — so thank heavens for some rather more up-to-date eating-out ideas this month, from casual Malaysian to Puglian small plates. And for anyone who hasn’t yet been to the whizzy new developments at Battersea Power Station: a soft launch of 50% off food at the new Dishoom means that Christmas has come early.
Roti King Waterloo
Having been for years the only decent place to eat within running-for-the-train distance from Euston, Roti King is now set to invigorate the dining scene around another hellish London terminus, Waterloo. The roti is made fresh in house every day in an open kitchen before being dunked by diners into dal or a chicken, mutton or fish curry; arguably the murtabak — a sort of Malaysian Cornish pasty – delivers even more lip-smacking satisfaction. Elsewhere are Malaysian classics of rendang (beef or mushroom), nasi lemak and char kway teow. To drink, there’s beer or wine and cocktails from a can, though the best thing is a glass of strong tea watered down with sweet condensed milk.
Opens: December 1
97 Lower Marsh, SE1 7AB, rotiking.com
Fatto a Mano
A first full-menu London pizzeria for Naples-inspired, Brighton-based dough-slingers Fatto a Mano, who launched Fatto Pizza & Beer at King’s Cross last year and now this follow-up on the edge of Covent Garden. Pride of place in the open kitchen goes to a 500 degrees Celsius pizza oven, crisping up dough made fresh in the basement each day, proved for 24 hours and cooked for no longer than 90 seconds. Now that’s fast food. Classic pizzas include Margherita and marinara, ’nduja and Napoletana, with ingredients sourced where possible from small independent producers in Italy (“fatto a mano” means “made by hand”) or, failing that, the UK equivalent. Unpretentious fun but, at around £15 per pizza, not the cheap eat of some rivals.
Opens: December 4
30 St Martin’s Lane, WC2N 4ER, fattoamanopizza.com
Is London ready for the return of Gilgamesh? For a certain demographic of diner (now comfortably in their 40s) the name of this Camden Lock party palace is as redolent of noughties NW1 as Amy Winehouse, only involving more ancient Babylon and less Back to Black. Gilgamesh, however, like its clientele has grown up, with the restaurant inspired by the epic Babylonian poem re-incarnated in Covent Garden. Three floors of lush foliage, dark woods, hand-carved bronzes and in-house entertainment sound a lot, as no one whatsoever said 20 years ago, though one thing that could have been beamed in from Gilgamesh’s original 2006 launch is a pan-Asian menu of sushi and sashimi, crispy duck and watermelon salad, and lamb chops with aubergine miso from the robata grill. Pull on that low-rise denim and get ready to party.
Opens: December 4
4A Upper St Martin’s Lane, WC2H 9NY, gilgameshlondon.co.uk
The Butcher’s Tap & Grill
Tom Kerridge swaps stockbroker-belt Marlow for its nearest London equivalent, Chelsea, with this pub sibling to his Butcher's Tap & Grill in Bucks. Here in SW3 Kerridge has leased a 3,600sq foot Victorian pub, where the plan is for it to be drinks led, though this being Kerridge (two Michelin stars at The Hand and Flowers, one at The Coach), all eyes are likely to be on the food coming out of the kitchen rather than the pints of Rebellion Lager pulled at the zinc-topped bar. Expect steaks from a meat-ageing fridge, minted lamb kebabs and Barnsley chops, with onion rings on the side and sticky toffee pud for afters. And if all of that doesn’t prove Kerridge’s pub credentials, there’ll be roasts on Sundays, plus burgers and hotdogs to take away.
Opens: Early December
27 Tryon Street, SW3 3LG, @thebutcherstapandgrill
A 15-cover café by day and wine bar by night, Covent Garden’s Capilungo is inspired by the day-into-evening haunts of Lecce, the second-biggest city of Puglia. Brother-and-sister founders Gianluca and Asia Capilungo were both born in Lecce and have teamed up with their uncle Luca, who has run a bakery in the city for the past 32 years. The siblings’ CVs including Soho House, Cubitt House and Aqua Group suggests that the front-of-house and drinks offerings will be as diverting as the Italian baked goods. By day there will be sweet pasticciotto pies to go with a shot of breakfast espresso, and savoury pizzettas for lunch; evenings will be given over to Puglian wines, aperitivo and small plates. Further seating will launch downstairs in spring.
Opens: December 13
76 Long Acre, WC2E 9LB, @capilungolondon
A contender for the most maladroitly named London restaurant to launch for some time, it is probably better to focus on the positive connotations of the word “clap” — an evening that will deserve a round of applause, perhaps— than something that will be a night to remember for all the wrong reasons. This Clap (no definite articles here, please) follows on from siblings in the Middle East which offer a similar taste of what’s billed as “sensory Japanese dining” — though the location within the disused entrance to Knightsbridge tube is likely to be more of a novelty for cosmopolitan Londoners. A café at street level will open early next year; for now, diners will be whisked up to the sixth floor for the SW3 staple diet of scallops with foie gras and wagyu beef with caviar, with the option of rooftop drinks on a terrace before or after.
Opens: December 18
Sixth and seventh floor, 12-14 Basil Street, SW3 1AJ, claprestaurant.com
A soi-disant ‘pub-with-wines’ in Spitalfields, with veg-forward small plates washed down with European wines on tap — mostly low intervention and biodynamic. A full restaurant will follow in February.
Opens: December 1
3 Crispin Place, E1 6DW, alfi.ltd
Rudy’s Pizza Napoletana Shoreditch and Fitzrovia
A second and third branch London branch (following Soho) for Manchester native Rudy’s, where the USP is Neapolitan-style pizza with a not very Neapolitan-style dip. But who cares about authenticity when there’s a marinara for £7.50?
Montacute Yards, 183-184 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6HU and 53-54 Tottenham Court Road,
W1T 2EQ, rudyspizza.co.uk
This new fast-casual concept for Streatham might not answer the eternal conundrum of what is the difference between a shrimp and a prawn but does promise a Nando’s-esque experience of choose-your-own seafood, dip and spice level.
Opens: early December
20-21, The High Parade, Streatham High Road, SW16 1EX, shrimpshackco.com
A first south-of-the river outpost (unless one includes Brighton newcomer Permit Room) for the UK’s best Indian chain, with space for 235 diners next to Battersea Power Station. Dog-friendly, too. Woof!
Opens: December 6 (Soft launch until December 5, with 50% off food at breakfast, lunch and dinner)
42 Electric Boulevard, SW11 8BJ, dishoom.com
A fifth outpost of the Latin-inspired, British-sourced barbecue restaurant is opening in Paddington Basin, which should at least mean a plentiful supply of water should the open-fire cooking go wrong. Expect steaks, smoked meats and Mexican cocktails.
Opens: December 6
Paddington Basin, North Wharf Road, W2 1LF, temperrestaurant.com