This week’s hottest restaurant news

From astrology cocktails to vegan Korean chicken burgers, here’s our pick of the most exciting additions to the London restaurant scene ….

Aster

The French bistro, based in Victoria, has launched a mesmerising new cocktail menu based around star signs. The new concept, called Asterology, is inspired by the Zodiac signs and is the result of a collaboration with Venus in Retrogade, which runs classes on astrology and Tarot. The ingredients of each heady mix are tailored to the unique personality of each astrological sign, and drinks come with a mini forecast for the coming year. If you’re a Taurus, you can get stuck into a smooth blend of Don Julio Silver Tequila, Maraschino liqueur, St. Germain, lemon juice, hibiscus syrup and orange bitter. An Aries can enjoy a deliciously smoky concoction made with Mezcal, Pisco, lemon juice, cucumber and salt. What’s more, cocktails are perfect for the ‘gram, as each features its own quirky design, whether that’s Taurus bull horns made from chilis, or edible sugar paper stamped with the head of a ram. Prices are between £13.00-£15.00.

Mildreds

This month sees the opening of the new Covent Garden branch of vegetarian restaurant Mildreds. A pioneer on London’s meat-free scene, the extensive menu is 100% plant-based and super creative. Signature dishes include Kiri Hodi, made with coconut curry leaf sauce, sweet potato, green beans, pea basmati, tomato sambal and coconut cashews and Haldi Gobi with marsala cauliflower, coriander yoghurt and crispy boondi. Check out the famous Korean Fried Chick’n Burger (made with vegan southern-fried chicken), slathered in gochujang mayo. And tuck into charred hispi cabbage and blue corn tacos oozing with jalapeño sour cream. There are smoothies, mocktails and cocktails galore, and a private dining room for eight guests is also available to book.


Firebird

St Petersburg restaurateurs Madina Kazhimova and Anna Dolgushina have announced they will open the doors to their new Soho venture in late April. Specialising in using ancient open-fire cooking techniques, with a focus on pickling, fermenting and curing, the restaurant is named after a creature from Slavic folklore, famous for its glowing plumage and magic powers.  Chefs will use both charcoal and wood prominently, with ingredients slow-smoked and charred. Diners can expect the likes of raw seabass with fermented fennel and charred pineapple vinaigrette; and roasted duck breast with plum chutney and burnt plums. A juicy rump steak accompanied with burnt onions, smoked bone marrow and sorrel herb salad will also be a highlight, as will a honeycomb tiramisu cake.

Negroni’s

Just opened in Soho, this new Italian bar and restaurant serves up pasta and pizza to die for, alongside a wide choice of house negronis. Chef Filippo Ragone, previously of charcoal pizza haunt O’Ver and woodfired meat emporium Ostuni, whips up dishes including a signature Gnocchi with blue cheese reduction, radicchio, guanciale and walnuts, and an exquisite Truffle Cacio e Pepe, made with Pici pasta, Pecorino Romano cheese, black pepper and black truffle. Pizzas include the Golosa with butternut squash cream, sausage, cherry tomatoes and smoked mozzarella. Save room for dessert as there’s Tiramisu and a selection of gelati and sorbetti on offer if there’s still room for your gut between the green leather banquettes and the table.

Itaku

Also in January, Marylebone welcomes Itaku, the latest brainchild of restaurateur Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini (remember him? Hint: Cheryl Cole) on Great Portland Street. Fernandez-Versini already has 15 years of experience with Cannes pop up Cosy Box under his belt and has now teamed up with head chef Ivan Simeoli, previously of the Michelin starred Osteria Francescana, on a new venture which marries Italian cuisine with Japanese techniques and flavours. Dishes include miso Cornish monkfish with flamed pumpkin and Tuscan black cabbage and Sicilian red prawns with black truffle ponzu and shiso, alongside sashimi and vegetables from the raw bar. Cocktails will include concoctions such as the East to West Manhattan, made with Bourbon, Umeshu plum liqueur, Vermouth and Plum and rootbeer bitter.

Socca

Due to open in summer 2022, this modern bistro sees two Michelin starred chef Claude Bosi Samyukta Nair teaming up with restaurateur Samyukta Nair. Socca is all about paying homage to the coastal French towns of Cannes, Marseille and Nice, with an emphasis on French-Mediterranean style dishes and wines by the glass. The restaurant is named Socca after chickpea flour, the staple ingredient of panisse (popular chickpea chips from the South of France) and the menu will draw strongly on the flavours of the French Riviera. Sky blue awnings will lead into an elegant dining room, with scallop shell lights, navy leather banquette seating and warm timber panelling.

Santo Remedio Mexican Cafe

The favourite neighbourhood Mexican from Rivington Street has found a new home in Shoreditch serving up authentic Mexican street food, and a brilliant mezcal and cocktail list, amidst quirky interiors. Open now, the new restaurant is an ode to the iconic cafés of Mexico City, which were hugely popular in the 1940s. Expect tacos, tostadas and tempting Mexican brunches featuring the likes of Huevos Motuleños and Chilaquiles, on Saturdays. New dishes include Ox tongue with pipian verde and a guajillo chile taco, stuffed with avocado leaf, black beans and plantains. Wash it all down with a Hibiscus Margarita or Mezcal Negroni.

The Ivy Asia, Guildford

When this veritable wonderland opens in the springtime, it will be the Ivy group’s first standalone Asian-inspired concept outside of London. Diners can look forward to theatrical food and cocktails served amidst playful decor, notable for its luminous pink flooring, gold panelled pagoda and sweeping staircase for maximum selfie potential. Walls are covered with Asian fabrics, colourful wallpapers, and antiques, plus a majestic cherry blossom tree takes centre stage. A mini sushi bar will complement the a la carte menu, which features treats such as sesame crusted prawn dumplings, wagyu beef tataki, and avocado crispy tofu, with a lime and ginger dressing. Sakes, wines, Champagnes and speciality Asian teas will be on offer for thirsty diners.

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