London restaurants opening in March, from Nessa to Story Cellar

Pearl of Hampstead: London Shell Co is opening by Parliament Hill Fields (Press handout)
Pearl of Hampstead: London Shell Co is opening by Parliament Hill Fields (Press handout)

Spring is in the air, and that means new restaurants to greet the new season — and the capital’s chefs are finding ever-more inventive ways to feed us in ways we didn’t know we wanted.

Take Nessa, a Soho bistro from Tom Cenci who is applying French bistro technique to British ingredients: the chef’s brioche with black pudding and brown-butter noisette is sure to be the season’s most Instagrammed dish. Then there’s Lío London, a circus-act supper club hot from Ibiza and Mykonos on the old Café de Paris site. With future Líos opening in Las Vegas, Miami and Dubai, you can’t say you weren’t warned about what to expect.

March also sees the return of two much-missed names — Jun Tanaka’s The Ninth and The Don in the City — while look out, too, for new sites from two of the capital’s better chains: Yard Sale Pizza in Tottenham and Flat Iron in Kensington. Bad luck if you’re fasting for Lent: temptation awaits on every street corner in the capital this month.


 (Justin De Souza)
(Justin De Souza)

There are some big names behind this new joint on the ground floor of members’ club 1 Warwick: owner Maslow’s is also behind Mortimer House in Fitzrovia while chef Tom Cenci helmed the kitchens at Duck and Waffle and Loyal Tavern. Expect cooking that filters 2023’s bistro trend through a British lens: snacks of cheese and onion croquettes with grape husk mustard, small plates of brioche with black pudding and brown-butter noisette, mains like seabass with beurre blanc, pickled dulse and pink fir potatoes, and desserts including roly-poly with custard.

Opens: March 6

86 Brewer Street, W1F 9UB,

Lío London

 (Press handout)
(Press handout)

Arriving in London by way of Ibiza and Mykonos, Lío comes courtesy of clubbing legends Pasha and should deliver the sort of up-for-it experience promised by that heritage. Leicester Square alas is not the White Isle but Lío London’s USP is its location in the old Café de Paris site, where Mediterranean food will be accompanied by a side order of artists, acrobats, singers and dancers; after dinner, the venue will transform into a nightclub, where resident and international DJs will perform until 3am.

Opens: March 17

3-4 Coventry Street, W1D 6BL,

London Shell Co

 (Press handout)
(Press handout)

The first landlocked site for London Shell Co — proprietor of Paddington canal barges The Prince Regent and Grand Duchess — will be an equally intimate proposition, with space for just 30 diners over the road from Hampstead Heath. Brother-and-sister owners Harry and Leah Lobek grew up in the area so presumably know there’s a ready-made market for their brand of British seafood cooking. Go for something along the lines of whole Cornish crab to share, house-cured anchovies and trout sausages and mash. An in-house fishmonger adds to the local meal appeal.

Opens: Mid-March

Unit 4, Sonny Heights, Swains Lane, N6 6AG,

The Parakeet

 (Justin De Souza)
(Justin De Souza)

The Oxford Tavern, a Kentish Town pub that always seemed to smell of spilled red wine, is reopening as The Parakeet, with two Brat alumni — chef Ben Allen and sous chef Ed Jennings — manning the stoves. Dishes chalked up on a blackboard will be cooked over the flames of a custom-made grill but don’t expect the usual north London gastropub fodder; instead, there will be wood-roasted rabbit with kohlrabi and curry leaf, plus ox cheek and bream to share. Wash it all down with biodynamic and low-intervention wines.

Opens: March 23

256 Kentish Town Road, NW5 2EN,

Story Cellar

 (Jay Brooks)
(Jay Brooks)

Tom Sellers might have a slightly icky way with words (his two-Michelin-starred Restaurant Story in Bermondsey has a foie gras and marmalade dish called “Paddington Bear” and “Treats” instead of petits-fours) but the chef certainly knows how to cook. Ignore the awful pun of Story Cellar, then, and focus instead on what’s on the plate: rotisserie chicken served alongside a snappy menu of house-cured charcuterie and classic bistro dishes. To drink, there are splendid wines from the glass courtesy of a Coravin and the option of storing one’s own wine in the walk-in cellar.

Opens: Late March

17 Neal’s Yard, WC2H 9DP,

Also opening:


Housed in an archway in Battersea rather than Archway in north London, look forward to sustainable seasonal dishes (some foraged) from a former River Café chef at this restaurant-cum-wine bar.

Opens: March 3

Arch 65, Queens Circus, SW8 4NE,

The Don

The St Swithin’s Lane site that was the home of Sandeman port for 177 years is being rebranded as the Sandeman Quarter, with a new Portuguese wine bar called 1790 and the reopening of Square Mile classic The Don restaurant, complete with the City’s largest selection of port.

Opens: March 7

19-23 St Swithin’s Lane, EC4N 8AD,

The Ninth

Chef Jun Tanaka is reopening his Michelin-starred Fitzrovia restaurant following a fire last July, with interiors given a gentle refresh and signature dishes such as langoustine ravioli with marinda tomatoes present and correct.

Opens: March 9

22 Charlotte Street, W1T 2NB,


What was Rai, the fine-dining Fitzrovia outpost of Islington’s Hot Stone, is relaunching as the modern Japanese kibako, named after the omakase-style wooden trays of sushi and sashimi that are the restaurant’s speciality.

Opens: Mid-March

3 Windmill Street, W1T 2HY,

The Freak Scene

A permanent Parsons Green home for Scott Hallsworth’s itinerant pop-up featuring the chef’s greatest hits stretching back to the Kurobuta days, in partnership with fellow Aussie, comedian Adam Hills.

Opens: March 22

28 Parsons Green Lane, SW6 4HS, @freaksceneldn