TāTā Eatery’s new katsu sando shop and rice bowl operation, Tóu, will take the inaugural spot in ‘The Loft,’ which is described as an “incubation-focused mezzanine kitchen space.” Zijun Meng and Ana Gonçalves’ cooking at Tayēr + Elementary on Old Street — their first permanent restaurant space in London — is already winning serious plaudits, and this shop’s focus on their now-legendary katsu sando and rice cookery is, arguably, headline news.
Joining Tóu are:
- Lina Stores, the 75-year-old Soho Italian deli and restaurant that recently announced it will also be opening in King’s Cross, serving pasta dishes like pici with porcini and Umbrian sausage.
- Pastorcito, a new Mexican restaurant from the Harts Group, joining El Pastor in Borough Market, Tortilleria El Pastor on Bermondsey Street, and Casa Pastor at Coal Drops Yard. This will take inspiration from “the founders’ time exploring and living in Mexico City,” with a new ‘Super Gringa’ wrap apparently inspired by the city.
- Oklava, a new iteration of Selin Kiazim and Laura Christie’s outstanding modern Turkish restaurant in Shoreditch, and a regular standby on London’s essential restaurants. Expect iskender kebabs, a pide with Black Sea cheese, and künefe.
- Chotto by Chotto Matte, an adaptation of Kurt Zdesa’s approach to Nikkei cuisine that has won plaudits in Miami and London.
- Casita do Frango, a diminutive version of Casa do Frango, the Southwark Street restaurant adjacent to Flat Iron Square, focussed on quality piri piri chicken.
- Pophams Bakery, the Islington destination bakery known for highly photogenic pastries, which is opening in London Fields this week and will run the coffee and bakery counter at Arcade.
- Flat Iron Workshop, a dedicated testing ground for new dishes and cuts for the successful London steak chain, including a new Brit-mash-up of steak and Yorkshire pudding.
The 12,500 square foot space will add a seventh ground-floor operator to its roster in the coming weeks; the kitchens will be joined by three bars, offering “a broad menu of bespoke cocktails, craft beer and wine, developed exclusively for Arcade by some of London’s most sought-after mixologists.”
Each kitchen will have counter seating, in a style distinct from both Spitalfields Market’s ‘Kitchens’ and Market Halls Victoria or Fulham, as planning documents have shown since early 2019. Ultimately, it sounds more evolved — even sophisticated — than either of those, focussing on the experience of each kitchen rather than treating operators as stations to cherry pick food from.
Such an impressive raft of operators should be a boon to Centre Point’s food scene: the promised Din Tai Fung is yet to open; Vivi, the 1960s-inspired flagship, has been reviewed poorly, and Vapiano’s casual Italian dining and Pret a Manger’s Pret a Manger menu can only do so much.
It’s also another addition to London’s exponentially growing food court scene built on either new iterations or straight duplications — not negatively — of successful bricks-and-mortar operations, which is evidently proving an attractive route to market for mixed-use operators and investors, and an attractive means of expansion for successful restaurants. Market Halls recently received a £20 million private equity injection, with its two sites in Victoria and Fulham soon to be joined by Market Halls West End and, in 2020, Canary Wharf; the Kitchens at Spitalfields continues to iterate, despite concerns from some operators over rents, and strangely short opening hours for restaurants arguably best suited to evening trade. Kerb’s off-street-street food market will be an interesting addition to Covent Garden. Centre Point’s interesting approach to unsold apartments will always be in the background here, too, as diners flock to the restaurants below empty luxury flats.
Ultimately: Arcade has one of the strongest opening lineups of any of its competitors, rivalled only by Market Halls Victoria. It also has an all-day-and-night opening schedule, and it will be mixed-use, bringing digital art installations from global galleries and live music to the party, at a location whose central position near Tottenham Court Road’s soon-to-be refurbished station could make for a destination.
The catch, though, is that it probably didn’t anticipate having to do a the work to make Centre Point a destination all by itself.
More soon on dishes and opening menus: Arcade Food Theatre will open in July at Centre Point, 103 - 105 New Oxford Street, WC1A 1DD.