We recently counted down the 10 hottest restaurants of 2014, but that was so last year. Here’s a pick of eight restaurants which — less than a week into 2015 — are destined to be big players this year. Add them to your ‘to do’ list now, we already have.
Where? Soho When? This week
This weekend (10-11 January) will see celebrity chef Judy Joo open her much anticipated Korean small-plates restaurant JinJuu in Kingly Court. The chef made a name for herself working under Ramsay before becoming executive chef at the Playboy Club, and she’s also appeared on numerous US and UK television shows including Iron Chef and Korean Food Made Simple. The restaurant’s menu will be based on Joo’s interpretation of Korean street food, including kimchi fries, Korean fried chicken, sushi rolls and jeon (Korean pancakes).
Duck & Rice
Where? Soho When? January
Dubbed a ‘Chinese gastropub’, this latest venture from Alan Yau — who founded Wagamama, Busaba Eathai, Hakkasan and Yauatcha, and has recently opened Babaji Pide — has been a long time coming. It was originally going to open early in 2014, but after a series of delays we’re now told to expect it around the end of the month. It replaces The Endurance on Berwick Street, and will serve drinks and dishes in a casual environment across two floors.
Where? Fulham When? February or March
Chef Dave Ahern — who’s already a regular face on the scene thanks to varying pop-ups and residencies — will open Wahleeah in Fulham early this year. The menu is based simply on the kind of food the chef enjoys eating, with brisket hash, chicken meatballs, tuna meatloaf and burgers all on the menu. There will also be a focus on cooking with beer (including IPA glazed pork belly, ricotta dumplings with beer butter and beer fondant potatoes), while around 40 different beers will be available to drink alongside the dishes. The name comes from the phonetic spelling of an old Brooklyn slang term “wallear” which means to have a craving for a certain type of food.
Where? Soho When? Spring
Taiwanese street food stall Bao London has won widespread popularity and numerous awards for its bao — pillowy steamed buns, which come with varying fillings. You might have seen them at Hackney’s Netil Market, or heard about their triumph at both the Young British Foodies awards and British Street Food Awards. This spring Bao London will open a fully-fledged restaurant on Lexington Street, serving food seen on the stall as well as other Taiwanese dishes. It’s being backed by the incredibly successful Sethi family, who are also behind Gymkhana, Kitchen Table, Lyle’s and Trishna.
Where? Mayfair When? Spring
We don’t know much about upcoming restaurant Le Chabanais, apart from that it will serve French food and be based on Mount Street. What makes it exciting is its heritage — it comes from the same stable as Le Chateaubriand in Paris, which currently ranks at 27 in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list and is considered one of the city’s greatest restaurants. Le Chateaubriand has an interesting approach to reservations, which would be a first this side of the Channel if Le Chabanais followed suit. It takes bookings only for tables between 7.30-8.30pm, and then accepts walk-ins for a second sitting from 9.30pm.
Where? Marylebone When? April
If his track record is anything to go by, Jason Atherton will have another hit on his hands when he launches Social Wine just off Oxford Street in early April. It will be his seventh London venue — hot on the heels of Michelin-starred City Social — and take the form of a wine bar serving tapas. The concept is strongly modelled on the chef’s Singapore restaurant Esquina, and will feature bar seating, plus a dedicated wine shop. As well as a traditional wine list, there will be the option of buying wine at the shop and drinking it on-site for a corkage fee.
Where? Clerkenwell When? Summer
Not one to rest on his laurels, Jason Atherton also has an eighth London restaurant up his sleeve. Sosharu — which means social in Japanese — will be strongly influenced by Japanese cuisine, though not necessarily traditional. It will feature teppanyaki (griddled dishes), robatayaki (grilled dishes) and sashimi, as well as an izakaya (bar food) menu. It will be headed up by Alex Craciun, who has cheffed for Atherton for years and spent months working in some of Japan’s top restaurants in preparation for this venture.
Ramsay at Park Walk
Where? Chelsea When? Summer
It was announced last summer that Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant group had bought the premises just off Fulham Road which was the original site of Aubergine, a restaurant opened by Ramsay in 1993. This was where Ramsay first made a name for himself, and where he won his first two Michelin stars in 1997. Details of what Ramsay will do with the site are unconfirmed, but we’ve heard that it will become something similar to his Mayfair restaurant Maze, focusing on steak as well as containing a sushi bar. A Ramsay opening doesn’t have quite the clout it used to, but given the nostalgia factor at play here, we’re expecting something interesting this time around.