London is groaning under the weight of a slew of new and impending openings at the start of 2011, with some big impact, high profile additions on the scene. Celebrity chefs, first-time restaurant owners, chefs from across the pond: there is still a voracious appetite for new openings in London at the start of the year.
Culinary alchemist Heston Blumenthal has arrived in London at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park with Dinner, a historical waltz through the forgotten dishes of Britain through the ages. Each dish has a historical date alongside, and is referenced to its origin. First week of reviews were nothing less than gushing, and securing a table is already needing military planning. A signature dish has already emerged with Meat Fruit (c.1500), chicken liver parfait masquerading as a mandarin. The highest profile opening this year has already happened.
Jason Atherton prepares to dazzle Mayfair with Pollen Street Social in April, the ex-Maze chef opening his first solo venture, containing London’s “first ever dessert bar”. We expect some whizz-bang El Bulli-esque dishes, where Jason spent time in the kitchen, alongside classics “Escoffier Style 1900, 45 day old Côte de Boeuf”.
5 Pollen Street opens opposite Atherton with Stefano Cavallini in the kitchen, having gained a star at The Halkin. The restaurant will be open all day, serving modern Italian dishes, such as Slow Roasted Loin of Veal with spring onion and porcini.
José Pizarro, co-founder and former executive chef of Tapas Brindisa opens José in April in Bermondsey Street, styled as a sherry and tapas bar evoking the aura of the Boqueria market in Barcelona. A larger restaurant, Pizarro, will follow later in the year.
Claude Bosi of Michelin starred Hibiscus opens The Fox and Grapes in Wimbledon, a gastro-pub he will run with brother Cedric and Head Chef Patrick Leano.
St John Hotel with its restaurant, which was due at the end of 2010, is imminent, we are promised. Prominence will be given to breakfast and in particular the “breakfast bun”, both sweet and savoury versions.
Spuntino will be the latest offering from Russell Norman, who has already achieved astonishing success with Polpo and Polpetto in Soho, a New York inspired Italian diner with just thirty seats. This follows the opening of the Campari Bar at Polpo, a basement space focusing on Campari and Aperol Spritz, alongside Italian small bites of cichetti.
Zetter Town House in Clerkenwell, or ZTH as it will be known, will house a destination cocktail bar run by the team behind 69 Colebrooke Row in N1, alongside an all-day bar menu constructed by Bruno Loubet, whose restaurant is already a part of the existing Zetter Hotel. Due April 2011.
Yottam Ottolenghi opens NOPI, his first stand-alone restaurant on Warwick Street W1, with Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Asian influences on the menu and plenty of sharing dishes.
Jean-Georges Vongerichten, a legend in New York, heads up Spice Market in the swanky new W Hotel on Leicester Square, formerly the Swiss Centre. Due in Spring 2011, two floors will serve up a menu inspired by “South-East Asian street food”.
Another celebrity chef, Silvena Rowe, opens her first restaurant in the celebrity filled Mayfair Hotel. Her stints on Saturday Kitchen will be familiar to many, as well as her books. Due April 2011.
Other openings loom not far behind, a new Wolseley in Aldwych, a new Gordon Ramsay offering of Bread Street in St Paul’s, Wolfgang Puck of Hollywood fame with a steakhouse on Park Lane, and restaurateur Marlon Abela preparing to open A Voce to add to his empire which includes The Greenhouse, Morton’s and Umu.
So the openings just keep coming, and London is appearing to buck every financial trend out of the water. Recession? What recession?