Is everyone done with reminiscing about 2015 yet? Good, because it's time to look forward to the best restaurants set to open next year. From s'mores sandwiches to a restaurant devoted entirely to chips, these are the openings we predict will make an impact in 2016.
The team behind Pidgin (one of our ‘big deal’ restaurants of 2015) certainly don't hang about. They will, they say, “bring a new style of dining to central London” in 2016, serving around 30 dishes priced between £3 and £12, which diners can choose from customised trollies. Yes, trollies. The style will be modern British, and the kitchen will be headed by Pidgin’s Elizabeth Allen. Dishes to look forward to include warm pizza dough with brown butter butter, chicken heart popcorn with hot sauce, koji-grilled corn, mussels with miso and beef dripping toast, and duck rillettes with sourdough and nukazuke pickles. There will be a full bar, a cocktail trolley serving pre-mixed drinks and a wine list put together by Pidgin’s Margot Tyson, featuring around 10 reds and 10 whites, all available by the glass.
Magpie, undisclosed location, opening 2016. Follow Pidgin on Twitter here.
Grain Store Bar & Cafe
Remember our guide to navigating the horrors of airport food? It’s not easy, but things are improving with openings such as Heston’s Perfectionists Café at Heathrow, and now Bruno Loubet’s Grain Store Bar & Café at Gatwick. Bruno’s focus, as with his other Grain Store restaurant in King's Cross, is on vegetables (although meat and fish will also be available). Food sourced from local British producers will be served from an all-day, family-friendly menu which is (obviously) designed with travellers in mind, so all dishes aim to be on the table within 15 minutes. There will be a separate bar, too, serving cocktails and “unique non-alcoholic drinks and shakes”. We wish them the best of luck, because good new airport dining options simply cannot come soon enough.
Grain Store Bar & Café, South Terminal, Gatwick Airport. Opening January 2016.
We’ve got high hopes for this new steamed bun restaurant which will open in Peckham next year. Ex-Taiwanese military chef John Huang will serve a menu including 24-hour slow-braised pork belly, roasted peanuts and hoisin bao, chive and prawn dumplings, millionaire’s bacon ribs and bao s’mores with marshmallow and honeycomb ice cream. At weekends, a brunch menu will include a bacon bao with maple syrup. Teas will be flown in from Taiwan, and cocktails will include The Imperial Concubine’s Smile made with lychee, vodka, green tea and elderflower and The Inspector Wears Skirts which contains Jinzu gin, namazake, apricot brandy, passion fruit and fresh lavender. Co-founders Frank Yeung and Nick Birkett say: "We chose Peckham because we believe in the spirit of the area. The Rye Lane site we have selected for Mr Bao has been empty for over a year…we are going to breath life into that area and you’re going to see significant change. We’re working hard to support local Peckham businesses. Our butcher, builder, timber supplier, glass supplier, sign makers, and artists are all from Peckham. That said, Chef John has been out in Taipei sourcing ingredients that are not available in Peckham."
Pitt Cue No 2
Pitt Cue is to open a new site in February 2016. One of the original London BBQ restaurants, they started out in a trailer van under the Hungerford bridge and went on to cause a bit of a frenzy when they opened their permanent restaurant. It'll be interesting to see what’s new on the menu, and if the second site will be larger than their famously small first one, which opened in 2012. We have been told, however, that this one will take reservations. Amen to that.
Lucky Chip Burgers & Wine
The guys at Lucky Chip have had some spectacularly successful residencies, and this is their first permanent opening. They’ve a thing for naming their burgers after slebs and you can expect to find a few of the classics on the menu, such as the Kevin Bacon (burger with applewood smoked bacon) and also the El Chappo (with bacon, jalapeno, blue cheese and aioli). We’re really hoping to see a comeback for our all time favourite, the Daryl Hannah, which was a riff on the McDonald’s filet o' fish, but we’re also excited that this new opening will be about more than the burgers. There will be a 10-seater bar, serving a 10-course tasting menu, and other dishes will appear on the regular menu, such as steak tartar and a 54-day aged rib eye steak. So yes, there’s a focus on beef, including the option to upgrade to your burger to 50-day Galician dry aged meat. The wine will be important, as the name of the restaurant suggests, with more than 100 bottles listed and ‘cult wines’ by the glass on Thursdays. It sounds like a lot of thought has gone into the design, too with chandelier-ed ceilings, mahogany parquet floors, and an 80’s soundtrack playing from an amp that was used at Woodstock. We hope it’s still in good working order.
Lucky Chip Burgers and Wine, 23-25 Ridley Road, London E8 2NP. Follow them on Twitter here.
Clare Smyth Restaurant
Clare Smyth, Chef Patron at 3 Michelin-starred Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, is to open her own restaurant. In a statement published on the Hot Dinners website, Smyth said: "Restaurant Gordon Ramsay has been a big part of my life, I have a great fondness for the restaurant and the team, it has formed me into the chef that I am today and I am grateful for the opportunities it has given me. I also remain ambitious and want to build on my success. The natural way to do that is by opening my own restaurant and, with Gordon’s blessing and support, I am excited to embark on this new chapter." So Ramsay is backing the restaurant, although surely he’s gutted to see his chef of 11 years wave goodbye. We eagerly await further news of this opening, which is set for autumn.
There was a lot of fuss about Viajante when it was open, and even more fuss when it closed. Nuno Mendes has since been famous for cooking at Chiltern Firehouse and Taberna do Mercado, but will now aim to revive the closed restaurant, providing his £1.75m crowdfunding campaign is successful. If it is, the restaurant will re-open at Metropolitan Wharf in Wapping, serving a tasting menu priced at £120-£140 a head, including drinks.
We couldn’t get enough of Andy Oliver’s Thai food during his residency at Climpson’s Arch this year, and thanks to a successful (and rapidly-funded) crowdfunding campaign, he’s opening a permanent site. His residency was one of our hottest restaurants of 2015, and you can read all about it here. Expect more of the same when they open in east London in 2016.
Come Fry With Me
A restaurant devoted entirely to chips will open in Covent Garden. The menu will serve spuddy variations such as truffle and Parmesan duck fat fries, Marmite skinny fries, curry gastro fries with mango chutney, fries coated in Guinness batter and cinnamon sweet potato fries with a choice of dips. There will also be a range of topped fries (eg with steak and stilton) and a selection of baps.