By the time you’ve finished reading this article another London restaurant will have opened. Well, near enough, as new restaurants are popping up across the capital at an incredible rate. What’s more, many are being opened by some of London’s top cooking talent, meaning that there has never been a better time to eat out in what is fast becoming the culinary capital of the world.
Take Welshman Tomos Parry, a name currently on gastronomes’ lips. Parry has been a regular face on the London food scene for the past few years, with a stint at Climpson’s Arch in Hackney before helping propel Mayfair restaurant Kitty Fisher’s to stardom with his mastery of the grill, but it is with his new debut restaurant Brat (bratrestaurant.com) in Shoreditch that he is really turning heads. The Basque-inspired British restaurant is named after a colloquial term for turbot and the whole fish takes centre stage – cooked in metal fish cages over a medieval-looking wood-fired oven. A former Chef of the Year at the Young British Foodie awards, Parry is now one of London’s hottest chef properties.
Seb Holmes has also been around for a while, but 2018 looks set to be the year he becomes more of a household name. Previously of Smoking Goat in Soho and Peckham’s Begging Bowl, Holmes has more recently been showcasing his brilliant authentic and seasonal Thai cooking at Farang (faranglondon.co.uk), his restaurant residency located in his stepfather’s Italian restaurant in Highbury. Now he’s heading west and taking a spot in the soon-to-launch Fulham Market Halls project to open new restaurant Thima. Thima (Thai for ‘origin’) represents Holmes’ respect for authenticity but not at the expense of flavour, with launch dishes set to include curried grilled scallop with green peppercorns and crispy boneless chicken pieces coated in sweet Scotch bonnet and fish sauce glaze with lime and herbs.
Another talent worth keeping an eye on is Australian chef Bonny Porter. She was the youngest-ever finalist of the Aussie version of MasterChef: The Professionals aged just 23, moving to London a year later to open Soho-based meatball restaurant Balls & Company. Her restaurant, and the cocktail bar she later opened in the basement, closed at the start of the year, but there’s more to come, with Porter saying she has some exciting plans in the works for a new restaurant in the capital later this year, so watch this space.
Expectations are also high for Elizabeth Haigh’s London debut. Formerly head chef at Hackney restaurant Pidgin (pidginlondon.com), where she was awarded a Michelin star (when she was Elizabeth Allen), Haigh is currently looking for a site to open Shibui, a restaurant that aims to bring together her love of fire and subtle detail. Shibui had a brief but hugely impressive spell as a pop-up at Carousel in Marylebone and now Haigh is seeking permanent digs for her wood-fire cooking of European dishes that feature bold Asian flavours. Last year she was named Chef to Watch by Restaurant magazine and Shibui is certainly one of the most eagerly anticipated restaurant openings of the year.
Not far from Pidgin, Tom Brown, a protégé of two-Michelin-starred chef Nathan Outlaw for six years, recently stepped out of the shadow of his mentor to open Cornerstone in Hackney Wick. Brown’s restaurant has built on the experience he gained running Michelin-starred fish restaurant Outlaw’s at The Capital in Knightsbridge. Cornerstone is named after Brown’s favourite Arctic Monkeys track, and will serve what he describes as ‘produce-driven’ sharing dishes as well as a gin available exclusively to the restaurant.
Then there’s Luke Selby, an up-and-coming chef whose trophy cabinet is already remarkably full. Not only did Selby win the Young National Chef of the Year competition in 2014, he followed this up by claiming the coveted Roux Scholarship award and being crowned National Chef of the Year 2018. Selby is now at Above (hide.co.uk), one half of acclaimed chef Ollie Dabbous’ spectacular new Mayfair venture Hide, where he heads up the kitchen at what is regarded by many to be the year’s most significant restaurant launch. Having trained at three-Michelin-starred Restaurant Nihonryori Ryugin in Tokyo and been a former head chef at Dabbous, his career is on an upward trajectory that’s likely to continue with him opening his own place in the not-too-distant future.
Chefs who are definitely about to luanch their own restaurants in the capital over the coming months include Pip Lacey and Endo Kazutoshi. Lacey is another chef finally stepping away from her mentor of six years. Formerly at Angela Hartnett’s Michelin-starred flagship Murano, Lacey and her long-time friend and business partner Gordy McIntyre are about to open Hicce (pronounced ee-che). Here Lacey, who had the winning starter on the latest series of Great British Menu, will serve ‘modern’ dishes of fish, meat and vegetables cooked over an open wood fire. Kazutoshi, meanwhile, is opening sushi restaurant Endo at Rotunda at the former BBC headquarters in White City. With 20 years’ experience at the likes of Adrià brothers’ legendary restaurant El Bulli in Spain and at Zuma in London, New York and Miami, the third-generation sushi chef has his sights on winning a Michelin star with his debut solo venture. Given his impressive CV, you wouldn’t bet against him achieving it.
Another chef with serious pedigree is Botswana-born Rob Roy Cameron. As executive chef at Dalston-based cocktail bar and restaurant Untitled, Cameron has already won critical acclaim, and the new Mayfair restaurant he is opening with drinks maestro Tony Conigliaro will further push him into the limelight. Gazelle (gazelle-mayfair.com) is an ambitious two-storey café, bar and all-day restaurant where Cameron will have the chance to flex his culinary muscles. Expectations are high given his background – as well as working at El Bulli he opened the Adriàs’ hugely creative 41 Degrees in Barcelona as head chef at the age of just 26 and then went on to head up their restaurant Hoja Santa, which won a Michelin star a year after opening.
Niall Davidson has an equally impressive CV. The chef behind the recently opened Nuala on City Road has had a varied career, having worked as a butcher before cooking at top restaurants St John Bread & Wine and Chiltern Firehouse, as well as famed Belgian restaurant In de Wulf. Nuala has been well received by the critics and the restaurant’s starter of beefsteak tartare with egg yolk, extra-stout sauce and dripping fries is an oft-Instagrammed dish, but Davidson isn’t done yet. His next London project, Butcher’s Bar, is said to be in the offing for later this year.
His intricate and beautiful pastry-based creations have become the stuff of legend – they are loved on Instagram
Another chef to watch is William Gleave, described by Eater London as ‘one of London’s most gifted and exciting young cooks’. Gleave worked at hugely respected London restaurant Brawn before a residency at P Franco (pfranco.co.uk) that arguably put the Clapton food and wine shop on the map (it was named London’s Restaurant of the Year 2017 by Eater). Now he’s joined forces with the P Franco team once more to take the helm at their new restaurant Bright, in Hackney. Serving seasonal food cooked over a charcoal grill, the team intend for Bright to become part of the fabric of London Fields, although its impact is likely to spread further.
And let’s not forget Calum Franklin, the chef who has single-handedly made pies super cool. Franklin’s career includes time at The Ivy, Indigo at One Aldwych Hotel and Roast in Borough Market, but he shot to stardom as head chef at Holborn Dining Room (holborndiningroom.com) where his intricate and beautiful pastry-based creations have become the stuff of legend – they are loved on Instagram, where they have even caught the eye of Noma’s Rene Redzepi. In fact, Franklin’s pies have been such a hit that he’s just opened The Pie Room at the restaurant, a takeaway shop and private dining room dedicated to his pastry works of art.
In a restaurant scene currently obsessed with foraging and Nordic influences, Franklin and his hearty British cooking is a breath of fresh air – as are all these culinary rising stars.