Nothing says the New Year quite like a raft of new restaurant openings, and London’s gastronomic scene looks set to continue to thrive in 2014. What follows is my personal take on some of the impending arrivals to look forward to most. Credit must be given to Hot Dinners, a superb resource that helped me to flesh out some of the finer details for this list.
Russell Norman really shook up the restaurant game in London with his early openings, Polpo and Polpetto, but those in know regard head chef Florence Knight as the real star of the show. Following a much loved stint at the French House that sadly ended in 2012, Knight will return to the hobs of Polpetto in 2014 at a new location in Berwick Street. Expect a no reservations policy to endure and demand for the restaurants 70-odd tables to be high in January, when it’s expected to open.
Wacky Wisconsinan Tim Anderson endeared himself to a nation en route to nabbing the 2011 MasterChef crown, and the Japonphile is set to take centre stage again in 2014, when his Nanban popup goes full-time, most likely somewhere in Shoreditch. The focus will be on southern Japanese cooking and inevitably feature some theatrical touches, making this opening the one to watch in East London next year.
Shangri La at the Shard
The Shangri La hotel will dominate the top 18 floors of The Shard, either London’s most famous construction or its biggest eyesore, depending on who you ask. Inevitably, it will feature a number of high-end dining and drinking options, so while specifics are still a bit thin on the ground, luxury lovers will no doubt be keeping a close eye on developments above the London Bridge skyline in 2014.
Simon Rogan at Claridges
Of all the restaurant openings to watch, Simon Rogan’s now confirmed takeover of the galley at iconic Claridge’s is the one to watch. Anyone who has sampled Rogan’s creations – which tread the perfect line between honest food and molecular gastronomy – at the likes of Roganic or L’Enclume will be absolutely wetting themselves. The space at Claridge’s itself will get a massive overhaul ahead of Rogan’s arrival, and this will be one of the hardest tables to get in town following a predicted Spring 2014 opening.
Duck and Rice
If you’re stuck for a date location, Alan Yau’s restaurants are an eternally safe bet, and the man who helped pioneer club-style interiors and sultry mood light will hit the London pub scene in 2014 with a new Chinese gastropub concept. Reviews could end up being mixed in this instance, but one thing’s certain – all eyes will be on his conversion of the popular Endurance pub on Berwick Street in 2014.
Honourable Mention: Former Petersham Nurseries ace Skye Gyngell will return to the fray in 2014, building on her Michelin star credentials and current position as Culinary Director at Heckfield Place in Hampshire with a new urban opening. If the Petersham days are any indicator, prices could be fairly eye watering, but your hard-earned loot is likely to get you access to masterful interpretations of the freshest produce around.