Chef Nuno Mendes, one of the pioneers of modern gastronomy in London in the last decade, will open a new Portuguese restaurant in the city in 2022. He will be backed by MJMK — owners of Casa do Frango, Kol, and La Rampa — a group on a mission to challenge the best and most innovative restaurant groups in London in the coming years.
Mendes restaurant, about which few details are yet known, will be dominated by the “chef’s idiosyncratic style” and will “showcase the style of cooking and restaurant popular in Lisbon,” the Evening Standard reports.
It will be the latest in a string of London projects for a chef who’s focus in the last 12 months has been at BAHR at the Bairro Alto hotel in Lisbon, where he is creative director of food and beverage. He also collaborated with the Scolt Head pub in Hackney on a brunch menu last summer. Those projects came after Mendes departed — without explanation — the tasting menu space, which he opened with Blue Mountain School entrepreneur James Brown on Redchurch Street in Shoreditch in 2018.
Mendes, a restless creator and self-styled “collaborator” is one of the more important pioneers of the last decade in the capital — whose protégés Ana Goncalves, Zijun Meng, and Leandro Carreira have become three of the most interesting and inventive chefs in London in recent years — remains executive chef at the celebrity favourite Chiltern Firehouse in Marylebone, but hasn’t cooked there since long before the pandemic hit in March 2020. Mendes came to London having worked at Ferran Adrià’s seminal Spanish restaurant El Bulli.
In 2018, Mendes moved and then closed his acclaimed Portuguese restaurant Taberna do Mercado in Spitalfields, after he had cited publicly the financial difficulties the business had endured in the period up to the end of 2017. He was also instrumental in the creation of the Kitchens at that location in Before that, Mendes ran Viajante in Bethnal Green, The Loft Project in Haggerston, and his first project, Bacchus on Hoxton Street in east London.
MJMK put a marker down in the spring of this year, with details emerging of its plans to open a new Thai restaurant with chef and restaurateurs John and Desiree Chantarasak in central London, itself coming just days after the announcement of a large-scale Cuban-influenced restaurant and bar with food from Tata Eatery’s Goncalves and Meng just off Oxford Street.
MJMK is behind the hit casual Algarvian chicken-and-chips restaurant Casa do Frango in Shoreditch and Borough and the Mexican fine dining restaurant, Kol by chef Santiago Lastra in Marylebone.