After a difficult year there is no better sign of optimism in the industry than of the on-trade opening new ventures. From brands expanding their franchises, to new pubs, to fighting evictions and to lots of pizza joints, here is our breakdown of the 15 top new London restaurant announcements.
SOHO & FITZROVIA
Rudy’s – Soho
Fans of pizza, it’s time to celebrate, because Rudy’s – the hit pizzeria from Manchester – is to open its first London restaurant this year. Launched in 2015 by Jim Morgan and Kate Wilson, Rudy’s has six branches across Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham and Liverpool.
The pizzeria was listed in the 2016 international guidebook Where to Eat Pizza as one of the best pizzas in the world, and these sentiments continued in 2019 when it was listed as 10th best pizza in the world by Big 7 Travel. TripAdvisor revealed in 2018 that Rudy’s was named best pizza restaurant in the UK.
After selling a portion of its business to bar operator Mission Mars in 2017, Rudy’s has continued its expansion. Rudy’s will launch on Wahaca’s old site on Wardour Street.
Cin Cin – Fitzrovia
Brighton and Hove Italian restaurant Cin Cin will open its first London restaurant on the site of Gull Seafood Shack in Fitzrovia at the end of April. Founded by David Toscano and head chef Jamie Halsall, Cin Cin currently has two restaurants – their first was opened in 2016 in Brighton and gained a 2020 Michelin Bib Gourmand award, and their second and larger branch was opened in 2018 in Hove.
Though Cin Cin’s new Fitzrovia menu has not yet been released, new dishes are reported to include Scottish scallop, chicken Milanese and espresso tart. Promising “outside seating perfect for apertivi and alfresco dining” and a menu of small plates to accompany their handmade pasta, Cin Cin could be a delectable place to spend some time this summer.
The India Club
Iconic restaurant The India Club will reopen on 17 May, despite fighting a court battle with its property developer landlord.
Since 2017 planning restrictions have been placing increasing pressure on The India Club, but after 26,000 people petitioned to protect the space, citing it as a cultural hub, the planning permission was quashed. Now the pressure continues as its landlord served notice to the restaurant to vacate. A crowdfunder which closed on 15 April raised just under £50,000 to help the restaurant fight its eviction.
The India Club was established in 1951 by Indian politician Krishna Menon and founding members Lady Mountbatten and first Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru as a symbol of Indo-British friendship in the post-independence era. Self-described as “charmingly eccentric” the space is hidden up a flight of stairs on The Strand, and is known for its mustard yellow walls and wooden tables.
Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover, founders of international art magazine and festival Frieze will launch restaurant Toklas at 180 The Strand this summer. Neighbouring their offices, and promising to feature an “expansive garden terrace” the restaurant will provide around 60 covers in total.
While a restaurant created by an art magazine sounds intriguing, Frieze’s track record means that the restaurant is bound to be a success. That 180 The Strand is owned by Soho House only further confirms this.
The Tapas Room – Peckham
The Tapas Room in South London has been a resounding success with branches in Tooting, Brixton, Battersea and Deptford all having been opened since the bar group’s 2017 launch. Next month will see it’s next site opening on Peckham High Street, in the former hotel and pub The Crown Hotel.
The Tapas Room in Peckham will be split with an upstairs dining room and downstairs bar, and will continue to serve its “refined Tapas, charcuterie, cheese & deli”. Winning as runner-up for the Decanter 2020 Retailer Award for Best Specialist Retailer Spain and Portugal, The Tapas Room is known for its specialist Spanish & Basque Wine, Sherry, Cava, Vermouth and Craft Beers.
081 Pizzeria – Peckham
Chef Andrea Ascuiti has built a name for himself as one of the minds behind Bravi Ragazzi in Streatham, a pizza restaurant that became known for its authentic Neapolitan-style sourdough pizzas. Now the chef is launching 081 Pizzeria on 1 May at Peckham Levels. It will first operate as a delivery and collection service, and later as restrictions loosen, dine in service will be offered.
Ascuiti will use quality ingredients to bring his modern take to traditional Italian cuisine. This will include ‘Neapolitan tapas’ – snacking dishes which have been inspired by Naples such as ‘Frittatina’ – a deep fried Italian mac and cheese with minced meat.
Look and feel are “very important part of the pizza culture at 081 Pizzeria” so expect “bold, youthful and funky visual design, influenced by urban culture and hip-hop music.”
Mike’s – Peckham
Peckham is in for a treat with another exciting pizza venture, this time created by the team behind Frank’s Cafe in Peckham. Rather than try and emulate a Chicago, or New York iteration of pizza, Mike’s will be paying homage to the Neapolitan bread while “making a style of pizza all of our own” saying that they “want to start a conversation about it in this city.”
Mike’s, named after chef director Michael Davis, opened on April 13th at Copeland Park. Given that Frank’s hit all the right notes we can imagine that Mike’s, with its London pizza, small plates, a weekend brunch menu, natural wines and local beers, will too.
Café BAO – Kings Cross
On 17 May the trio who founded BAO – Shing Tat Chung, Erchen Chang and Wai Ting Chung – will open their latest venture: Café BAO.
The café will open all day long and will serve breakfast, which is a company first. It will be taking cues from Yōshoku cuisine – a style of ‘Western-influenced cooking’ which originated in Japan in the late 19th century – and the “Western style cafes commonly found throughout Asia”. Breakfast dishes will include BAO loaf, syrup and butter and a baked ham hock congee pie, while lunch and dinner will offer dishes such as hamburger BAO, Lobster BAO and Taiwanese fried Chicken Kiev.
The café first opened in December but after only a few days it was closed as lockdown restrictions were enforced. Hopefully this time Café BAO will be able to enjoy its launch.
The Farrier – Camden
For fans of natural and artisan wine, signature cocktails and “modern rustic dining”, this new pub ticks all the boxes. The Farrier, whose launch was delayed by four months, opened on 15 April.
Headed up by three Michelin star trained chef Ash Finch, the pub and restaurant will be offering comforting dishes using produce from the British countryside and sea, and sharing roasts will be offered on Sundays. The 2,100 sq ft site has a hidden courtyard with a fire pit and outdoor covered seating, making The Farrier a noteworthy new summer spot.
ACRE – Queen’s Park
Chef Thomas Straker will launch his first restaurant later this year. With a focus on sustainable British produce, dishes will be seasonal and Mediterranean inspired. Straker is a regular contributor to MOB Kitchen and has worked in some of London’s top restaurants including The Dorchester, Dinner, Casa Cruz and Elystan Street throughout his career.
ACRE pitches itself as a “neighbourhood restaurant” though further details about the launch are yet to be released. What is clear is that a combination of Straker’s experience and his passion for hunting and foraging – inspired by growing up on his family’s smallholding in Herefordshire – makes for an exciting new venture.
Hot 4 U – London Fields
Hot 4 U became one of the breakout success stories last year as their weekly-changing menu took the food delivery scene by storm while London was in the middle of its first lockdown. Now Eddy Tejada (ex-St John and Silo) and Matthew Scott (ex-Head Chef of Cub) are launching a permanent residency, at The Prince Arthur in Hackney.
Customers can look forward to fun, casual plates made from high-grade produce supported with a zero-waste mantra. The menu will be ever-changing and will be available seven days a week. For an idea of what to expect, dishes on the menu for week one included oysters with hot sauce and fermented potato, “psychedelic” burrata with cedrat lemon and pig’s head, anchovy, dandelion.
Hot 4 U launched on 12 April for outdoor dining only. This venture is in addition to their “buns and takeaway pints” at The Plough in Homerton, which they launched just before Christmas. From 17 May both residencies will be open for “the full Hot 4 U experience.”
The Light Bar – Shoreditch
Some readers will remember The Light, an iconic bar within Shoreditch’s Victorian Great Eastern Light power station that was launched in 2000 and was forced to close in 2014 when redevelopment plans threatened to tear down the building. Then after a successful campaign to #savethelight, the building became protected by Hackney’s Shoreditch Conservation Area.
Now after nearly a decade’s hiatus, the site is back, this time under new ownership and with a new name: The Light Bar. The Light Bar is made up of three floors: the ‘Engine Hall’ – the main ground floor bar and restaurant, the mezzanine level, cocktail-focused ‘Copper Bar’ and the ‘Timber Loft’, a dining area and events space that will be launched in June.
Promising modern British cooking, relaxed drinks and a welcoming atmosphere, The Light Bar – which opened on 12 April and will open indoor dining from 17 May – is forecast to have a bright return.
Marugame Udon – Liverpool Street
Japanese restaurant brand Marugame Udon, which has over 800 restaurants across Japan and a further 250 in Asia and the US, will open its first UK site in London in July.
Specialising in making Sanuki Udon, popular in the Kagawa prefecture in Japan, the Udon are made with three ingredients: wheat flour, salt and water, and are made fresh throughout the day in the open kitchen of Marugame Udon. Customers will then be able to personalise their dishes. Vegan plates will also be offered for the first time, making up 30 per cent of Marugame Udon’s London menu.
Gordon Ramsay is a busy man: if he is not hosting a game show, opening a cookery school, or looking after his two year old son, he is adding new restaurants to his portfolio, expanding his Street Pizza and Street Burger brands. It has been a difficult year for the chef whose company lost £57m since the pandemic began, reporting to have cancelled 22,500 reservations over Christmas alone.
Nevertheless, Ramsay will be expanding his Street Pizza brand to Wandsworth, becoming its fourth branch in the capital after sites in Southwark, St Paul’s and in Camden. His burger brand Gordon Ramsay Street Burger will also launch a second branch on Charing Cross Road, at a new 2070 sq ft restaurant spread over two floors. This comes just four months after the launch of the brand in St Paul’s in December 2020. These expansions are part of the chef’s larger plan to open 50 new restaurants across the UK.
Another one for the pizza fans: Pizza Pilgrims, who have 13 branches across London, and one branch in Oxford, are expanding with four more pizzerias in the capital.
Founded by brothers James and Thom Elliot in 2013, over the past year the group has already launched ‘Slice on the Southbank’ selling New York City style 12” pizza slices, and ‘Pizza in the Post’ meal kits. The meal kits were based around the concept of making Pizza Pilgrims’ Neapolitan style pizzas in a frying pan and became so successful that in Autumn the company had set up a permanent facility in South London to cope with the production of the kits.
The expansions come after a £3.5m investment from Imbiba earlier this year. The four openings will be in Waterloo, Queensway, Finsbury Park, and Marble Arch.