Last July, the hospitality sector was finally allowed to reopen its doors in earnest after months of stop-and-start restrictions. Restaurants found themselves booked up for weeks in advance by a population hungry for hospitality – and with this renewed appetite came a host of high-end launches… Here’s our pick of the most exciting eateries commanding the post-lockdown scene.
Every so often we get an imported restaurant concept from another city that makes a huge splash, and Gaia could very well be London’s next tidal wave arrival. Helmed by sought-after chef Izu Ani, who formerly rattled the pans at La Petite Maison and La Serre, Gaia will open in Mayfair this autumn (exact date and location TBC) and will draw on Greek inspiration to create a modern taverna worth its salt. Diners will be treated to fresh Mediterranean cuisine, all served within a light interior with white painted woods and cream walls.
Those who were impressed with Taiji Maruyama’s kitchen work when he opened a second Taka in Marylebone last autumn will be pleased to hear the master itamae will be opening an exclusive sushi counter at the site of the first Taka, on Shepherd Market. Named Maru (after the chef), the venue will seat just 10 diners and serve a 20-course farm-to-table omakase menu.
18 Shepherd Market, W1J, takalondon.com
The NoMad hotel is one of the finest places in midtown Manhattan to revel and refuel and almost singlehandedly revivified New York City’s lounge bar scene. As part of the Sydell Group, NoMad finds itself in the same stable as Eleven Madison Park and The Ned in London, and, post-launch, is holding sway as one of the heaviest-hitting launches of 2021. For the London site, the group has chosen the Bow Street Magistrate’s Court, a Grade II-listed building in Covent Garden. The group has enlisted Eleven Madison Park alums Ian Coogan and Leo Robitschek to head up the restaurant, so expect Michelin-level cuisine.
28 Bow Street, WC2E, thenomadhotel.com
There’s been a ton of chatter around the opening of Nusr-Et Steakhouse, which sees Turkish restaurateur Nusret Gökçe open his inaugural British venture at the Park Tower Knightsbridge Hotel. If you don’t recognise the name, you’ll likely know him for his sobriquet and alter ego Salt Bae, with which he took Instagram by storm. Guests can enjoy his theatrical and unorthodox approach to seasoning and serving meat in the flesh, which perhaps should be taken with a pinch of, er, salt. Thanks to Gökçe’s celebrity following, there’s no doubt droves of steak lovers will be flocking to Nusr-Et now that the restaurant has opened its doors.
101 Knightsbridge, SW1X, nusr-et.com
London has seen its fair share of quality Japanese restaurants, but is lacking in truly excellent Kaiseki eateries that specialise in ceremonial Nipponese tasting menus. Roketsu looks to right this wrong when it officially opens its doors in November (exact date TBC). Helmed by Daisuke Hayashi, a protégée of seven-Michelin-starred chef Yoshihiro Murata, Roketsu will craft the finest produce into finely-wrought works of art in a dining room built by Sotoji Nakamura.
12 New Quebec Street, W1H, roketsu.co.uk
The latest addition to the culinary offering at the Conrad London hotel in St James comes from Sally Abé – the much gushed about chef who formerly helmed the Michelin-starred Harwood Arms in Fulham. Opened on 1 July, the restaurant is inspired by suffragette Emily Wilding Davidson (known as Pem to her family) and sees some of the capital’s top female culinary talent – including head chef Laetizia Keating and general manager Emma Underwood – take charge. Food, meanwhile, is in Abé’s signature elevated style and celebrate the best seasonal British produce.
22-28 Broadway, SW1H, thepemrestaurant.com
Paris’ Big Mamma Group made tidal waves when it opened both Gloria in Shoreditch and Circolo Popolare in Fitzrovia. This summer, London got hit with a tsunami when the group opened its largest restaurant to date: Ave Mario. Inspired by Florence, BMG has created its own church to Italian cuisine with a massive 295 covers set over more than 7,000 sq ft on Covent Garden’s Henrietta Street. The osteria will draw influence from all corners of Italy, from Liguria to Venice to Milan. Don’t miss the 1970s-inspired luxe mirrored basement, where pizzaiolos will be spinning the dough from within a lowered kitchen. Opened at the beginning of July, Ave Mario is already the talk of the town.
15 Henrietta St, WC2E, bigmammagroup.com
Upmarket Japanese restaurant Endo at the Rotunda ruffled some serious foodie feathers when it opened in White City, including the plumage of the Michelin inspectors, who promptly offered it a star after opening. Following his success, Endo Kazutoshi has opened Sumi in Notting Hill. Named after his mother, the restaurant is a more casual proposition than its elder sibling, with a focus on slicing and dicing the freshest, most painstakingly provenanced ingredients. Kazutoshi is an adept culinary showman and this new venue is utterly inviting, with beautiful wood panelling and rattan put to use to create a serene Japanese environment.
157 Westbourne Grove, W11, sushisumi.com
The team behind Mac & Wild has taken over the space that formerly housed Villandry in Fitzrovia for their second outing of Sixes, a bar/indoor cricket ground that launched pre-lockdown in Fulham. Sixes offers a cricket simulator, styled as batting nets, alongside drinks and gastropub-inspired food, such as sausage rolls and lemon-fried chicken with Kiev butter dip. Considering the foodie panache the team brought to Mac & Wild, expect big things from the menu, alongside some great high-octane fun.
170 Great Portland St, W1W, sixescricket.com
Bar des Prés
Bar des Prés is a new concept recently launched on Albemarle Street by the team who smashed it out of the park with Amazónico. Formerly occupied by Indian Accent, it marks the first international venture by esteemed French chef Cyril Lignac. Designed by Sagrada (Dover Street Arts Club), the restaurant will provide the perfect foil to Lignac’s playful combination of Franco-East Asian dishes. Set within a small and charming 18th century building, Bar des Prés combines a bold blue exterior with discreet gold signage and touches of warm polished timber inside. The intimate interior features stunning counter-dining bars on both ground and basement floors, elegant custom-made furniture and vibrant peacock embroidered upholstery. Parisian chic meets Japanese precision.
16 Albemarle St, W1S, bardespres.com/london-restaurant
El Pastor Soho
The Harts Group has proven to have the Midas touch when it comes to buzz-worthy restaurants, with its Catalan-influenced Barrafina, the elevated traditional British fare of Quo Vadis, and the bold Mexican flavours of El Pastor in Southwark. In June, the group launched another outpost of the latter in Soho. Situated on Brewer Street on a site that formerly housed HIX, El Pastor transports diners to the brash and brazen streets of Mexico City – where its founders used to run cult nightclub, El Colmillo – literally turning the thermostat up and piping in some humidity for good measure. For anyone looking for a more than memorable meal, El Pastor offers a private dining room on the ground floor, painted in green lacquer and adorned with imagery of Mexican plants and botanicals.
66-70 Brewer St, W1F, tacoselpastor.co.uk
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