AGAINST the odds perhaps, but 2010 has been a cracking year for restaurant openings in London. From the old-fashioned cool of Soho’s Dean Street Townhouse to Pierre Koffmann’s return to glory, the cosy joy that is Polpo to Daniel Boulud’s Knightsbridge bistro, there’s been plenty to love.
And if anything, the openings are accelerating. The close of this year and the start of 2011 sees a slew of big-name launches, of which the most important is the arrival in London of Heston Blumenthal, his restaurant opening alongside Boulud at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, while Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver also have launches.
Here’s the rundown of the soon-to-open restaurants that have London’s gastronauts licking their lips.
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
Opens 31 January After a bit of a delay, the superchef will finally be planting his flag in the capital at the end of January. With the kitchen overseen by his long-standing associate Ashley Palmer-Watts, it’s going to be a different affair to Blumenthal’s famous Bray HQ, with his take on a modern British menu. That means dishes like scallops with cucumber ketchup and peas and bergamot-cured mackerel salad. You’ll find it in Knightsbridge’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel [left], and don’t worry – it may be called Dinner (oh Heston, you tease), but it’ll be open for lunch too. 66 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7LA.
Opens 25 November Getting in on the trend for bistro dining, the fourth London venue from restaurateur Marlon Abela – he’s also behind Michelin starred places Umu and The Greenhouse – will bring a touch of Provence to South Kensington. That means frogs legs, boillabaisse and – no doubt – some rather fine wines. 232-236 Brompton Road, SW3 2BB. 020 7581 1101.
Opens mid November Bang in the heart of Chelsea, Eighty-Six is a new bar and restaurant occupying a grand Georgian townhouse, founded by entrepreneurs George Adams and Charlie Kearns, whose other openings include a club in Verbier. Expect a particularly good cellar – Kearns comes from a family background in the wine trade. 68 Fulham Road, SW3 6HR. www.86restaurant.co.uk
Opens 18 November Almost a decade after West End favourite Hakkasan brought Chinese food into the Michelin-starred 21st century, a second version is opening just off Berkeley Square. Expect the same formula of sexy interiors and even sexier modern Cantonese food. 17 Bruton St, W1J 6QB. www.hakkasan.com
Pollen Street Social
Opens February 2011 Chef Jason Atherton won stars and plaudits for his highly-inventive cooking at Gordon Ramsay’s Maze, which he departed earlier this year. Now going it alone, at his new restaurant Atherton will be combining his fine cuisine with a more relaxed and informal setting, as the name suggests.
8-13 Pollen St, W1S 1NQ. Website to come.
Opens 8 November They’re moving fast are Drake & Morgan, the independent team behind the Refinery, the Anthologist and Canary Wharf’s the Parlour. The Folly occupies the curving façade across the road from Monument station at 41 Gracechurch Street, and it’s going to be bringing some whimsical botanical flavour to one of the City’s noisier corners – including a flower shop and hanging greenery. Food’s of the simple, seasonal variety with lots of sharing boards to make the most of the long high tables and benches. 41 Gracechurch St, EC3V 0BT.
Opens late November Building on the success they’ve had with Covent Garden’s smashing French wine bar and bistro Terroirs, chef Ed Wilson and manager Oli Barker are taking their formula of rustic Gallic dishes and stunning finger food to the trendsetters of the East End with this Shoreditch opening. 49 Columbia Rd, E2 7RG. Website coming soon.
Opens 5 November Tomorrow the Jamie Oliver empire is extending to the City, with this barbecue cuisine restaurant in the sparkling new shopping centre by St Paul’s, One New Change. The look is all sparse white tiles and kitchen chic, while the cooking incorporates wood-fired ovens, Robata grills, Argentine grills, tandoors and a smoker. The chef in charge is barbecue specialist Adam Perry Lang. One New Change, EC4M 9AF.
Opens 15 November With Copenhagen restaurant Noma winning global plaudits, Nordic-themed food is an increasing trend in London too. Danish chef Christopher Hruskova made his name at Islington’s Fig, and is now bringing his delicate recipes to Clerkenwell. 69-73 St John St, EC1M 4AN. www.northroadrestaurant.co.uk
Hawksmoor Seven Dials
Now open East London’s Hawksmoor has a justifiable claim to be London’s premiere place to head if you’re a steak or burger connoisseur, so the opening of its second site, in Covent Garden, is reason to be excited. The thought of a juicy porterhouse with beef dripping chips has us drooling.
11 Langley Street, WC2H 9JG.
The Savoy Grill
Opens 29 November Gordon Ramsay re-opens the Savoy Hotel’s legendary restaurant later this month. In charge are chef director Stuart Gillies and head chef Andy Cook, with a menu – like the hotel and its restaurant – oozing tradition: King Crab cocktail, lobster thermidor and Beef Wellington are present and correct.
Savoy Hotel, Strand, WC2R 0ET.
St John Hotel
Opens 1 December Fergus Henderson opens a West End branch of his meat-lovers’ paradise and turns hotelier in the process. The restaurant will be open until 2am. 1 Leicester St, WC2H 7BL. www.stjohnhotellondon.com