With a new year will come new openings in the capital. Restaurants on the horizon — or immediately in the foreground — offer a useful, if incomplete insight into prevailing trends and inclinations, as well as an excuse to believe (or distrust) the hype. Currently, individual restaurants are wresting back prominence from the spree of developments that went some way to defining 2017, with debut solo ventures and returns from hiatus taking headlines. At the same time, established mini-chains are continuing to thrive, with native successes and high-profile imports expanding into a city as competitive as it has ever been. It’ll be tough out there in 2018, but these are places to get genuinely excited about.
Chefs Going Solo
Those who have tasted success cooking under others’ direction opening under their own steam.
What: Tomos Parry’s first solo restaurant, inspired by the wood-fire cooking of the Basque country, as well as more local influences.
Key players: Tomos Parry, Ben Chapman, Brian Hannon
When: Brat is currently slated for Spring 2018.
Why: Parry’s grill cooking alongside Chris Leach at Mayfair institution Kitty Fisher’s wowed diners; Parry is collaborating with the owners of Kiln and Smoking Goat on operations; London lacks a restaurant of this kind while idolising its influences from afar.
What: A restaurant drawing on flavours from all over Spain, and the first restaurant from Nieves Barragan
Key players: Nieves Barragan, José Etura, JKS Restaurants
When: Previously slated for 2017, January 2018 will be the opening month.
Why: Barragan was executive chef at Barrafina for nine years and spearheaded their expansion as well as their lauded food; Sabor will be split over bar, restaurant, and dedicated asador (a room centred on a wood-fired oven); it’s another string to Mayfair’s growing bow of genuinely interesting restaurants.
What: The first restaurant from Elizabeth Haigh (née Allen), attached to Kaizen House.
Key players: Elizabeth Haigh, Steele Haigh
When: Currently slated for “early 2018.”
Why: Her Carousel residency in January 2017 was a succession of precise, elevated dishes; Haigh’s cooking at Pidgin helped to earn the restaurant its first Michelin star; mindful of global influences, and (again) anchored in wood-fire cookery, her style is one of the most individual among London’s crop of young, successful chefs.
What: Ramael Scully’s first solo venture, after 12 years with Yottam of Ottolenghi.
Key players: Ramael Scully, Anthea Harries
When: Mid-2018 looks to be on the cards.
Why: Scully’s insatiable appetite for in-house production defined Nopi’s style; it’s another chance for St. James Market to prove itself; this mode of larder-based cookery privileges availability and invention.
Returns and Regenerations
Phoenixes from ashes, reinventions and a return for Simon Rogan
What: A total reinvention of The Manor Clapham, Robin Gill’s acclaimed follow-up to The Dairy.
Key players: Sarah Gill, Robin Gill, Dean Parker
When: January 2018
Why: It promises to be a realisation of Gill’s culinary education in Campania, Italy; “Our Farm”, where the group produce and source ingredients, will continue to supply the goods; it’s both a continuum and a departure for one of London’s most consistent restaurateurs.
What: Simon Rogan returns to London with the next iteration of Roganic, following his departure from Fera at Claridges.
Key players: Simon Rogan, Penny Rogan, Oliver Marlow
When: 9th January 2018
Why: It’s a new lease of life for the site of the recently closed L’Autre Pied; Rogan’s ethos remains one of Britain’s most forward-looking; it’s a permanent return after the two year pop-up that was one of London’s first “post-Noma” institutions.
What: When two doors close, two open for Ollie Dabbous. Closing his eponymous restaurant and Barnyard concept in 2017, he has since overseen Henrietta at The Henrietta Hotel, and comes into 2018 with his next big restaurant on the horizon.
Key players: Ollie Dabbous, Oskar Kinberg, Evgeny Chichvarkin
Why: Dabbous is, indisputably, one of Britain’s best chefs; its multi-floor layout will be used to incubate different kinds of cooking; a job posting for the new concept promises “light elegant dishes, stunningly original and theatrical.”
The globe’s most iconic restaurants setting up shop in London
Din Tai Fung
What: The long-awaited first London opening of a Taiwanese institution that has grown to have sites in 10 countries.
Key players: Din Tai Fung, BreadTalk, Centre Point Development
Why: One of the most renowned, cult-followed restaurants globally opening in London is a big deal; it opening inside a development is possibly an even bigger deal; it’s been talked about since as early as 2014.
What: An American vegan chain dominating the East coast, with 10 locations in all and a compelling ownership story to boot.
Key players: Samantha Wasser, ESquared Hospitality, not the eponymous Chloe Cascarelli
When: Early 2018
Why: It’s another international restaurant with a cult following; it’s a genuinely aspirational take on vegan cuisine; it will inevitably dominate Instagram; it’s another sign (Din Tai Fung, Dabbous 2.0) that opening big London sites requires serious additional financial clout.
Second Albums and Small Chains
Successful, smaller concepts continue to grow, while established sites branch out
What: The follow-up to A. Wong, chef Andrew Wong’s newly Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant in Pimlico. Wong recently dispelled the theory that it will be called “Madame Wong” in a rangy interview with Eater London.
Key players: Andrew Wong, Natalie Wong, Bloomberg Arcade
When: Early 2018
Why: The food at A.Wong is some of the best Chinese in the UK, if not Europe; it’s a serious statement from both Wong and the Bloomberg Arcade; it’s another step towards making The City the unexpected dining neighbourhood of 2018; it’s another indication of the need for moneyed backers in the current climate.
Gunpowder Market Market
What: Site four for the team behind Gunpowder, Madame D, and Gul and Sepoy — all of them acclaimed in their own right.
Key players: Devina Baweja, Harneet Baweja, Nirmal Save, One Tower Bridge
When: Spring 2018
Why: It’s a win for the spirit of evolution over replication; it’s a win for regional specificity, inspired by Calcutta, India; it takes the restaurateurs firmly into small chain territory without losing any sense of identity.
What: The third restaurant for what is fast becoming London’s leading ramen outpost, overtaking fellow stalwarts Tonkotsu and Shakfuyu.
Key players: Tony Lam, Aaron Burgess-Smith, Kazuhiro Kanada
When: March 2018
Why: The expansion of a genuinely high-quality fast-casual restaurant is something to value; London being ever more resistant to race-to-the-bottom authenticity.
Santa Maria Fitzrovia
What: The third site, and the first in the centre of the city, for what is widely regarded as the best pizza restaurant in London.
Key players: Pasquale Chionchio and Angelo Ambrosio
When: February 2018
Why: A positive outcome of a difficult truth: prices in Soho and Oxford Street are becoming more and more prohibitive; there is no other independent pizzeria in central London; it appears to be a sustainable expansion of one of the city’s greatest assets.