There’s too much to look forward to for back-to-school blues to get the better of you – just consider the crop of exciting new London restaurant openings this month and next. The joy is whatever you’re into – whether you seek the thrill of the new or the thrill of the old – you’ll find yourself a newly opened favourite spot where you can make yourself a regular. Here’s to a season of good eating and drinking.
New London Restaurant Openings
When it comes to new London restaurant openings, this launch is right near the top of the list. Rowley Leigh, a giant of the modern British food scene since its 1990s heyday (his restaurant, Kensington Place, was a favourite of Princess Diana’s), has opened Chez Rowley as a bistro residency at Laylow in Notting Hill, and it’s sure to be one of the most exciting new restaurants in London. Here, he’s drawn inspiration from family holidays across sun-drenched Europe, to create a feasting menu of such dishes as whole chicken antiboise, with anchovies, onion, garlic and black olives; escalivada with girolles; raw bavette with cep toast and gribiche dressing; and seasonal tomatoes with fresh creamy stracciatella. Bella Freud is responsible for the velvet booths, palm tree lights and glossy black tables.
10 Golborne Road, Notting Hill, London W10 5PE
Opens late September
The Bob Bob Ricard family welcomes a new member this month with the arrival of Bébé Bob on Golden Square in Soho, set to be one of the most exciting new London restaurant openings. Bébé Bob will be a chip off the old block, glamorous and luxurious but with a focus on rotisserie chicken, caviar and fine Burgundy. And why not! How heavenly to tuck into whole chicken (impeccably sourced from Vendée and Les Landes), with a side or two of truffles fries and winter leaf salad, chased down with a bottle of rosé. Oenophiles, please note: the mark-up on all fine wines, whatever the cost, is just £75, meaning the more you spend, the better the deal.
37 Golden Square, Soho, London W1
The National Theatre has seriously upped its food offering. First came Lasdun in May from the team behind the Marksman in Hackney (British, brutalist and brilliant), now joined by a second outpost of natural-wine-and-snacks spot Forza Wine, direct from Peckham. Reserve a table or just drop by for a few ‘sort of Italian’ plates such as cauliflower fritti with aioli or mozzarella with figs and hazelnuts. The outdoor terrace, open all year, must be seen to be believed, preferably with a cherry Negroni or a frozen peach margarita in hand.
Royal National Theatre, Upper Ground, South Bank, London SE1 9PX
Opens 15 September
L’Atelier Robuchon returns. The Covent Garden outpost of the late French chef’s global L’Atelier empire shuttered in 2019 but has now reopened in Mayfair, in the former Le Comptoir Robuchon site on Clarges Street, to be precise. The new-look restaurant, accoutred in L’Atelier’s signature red and black, has much to recommend it including Pétrus by the glass, a dessert trolley dispensing fresh madeleines, and a roster of DJs and live music. It also serves what is, inarguably, the world’s best pomme purée (famously made to a 2:1 potato to butter ratio). The group holds multiple Michelin stars: three in Hong Kong, two in Miami and Taipei, and one apiece in Las Vegas and Geneva.
6 Clarges Street, Mayfair, London W1J 8AE
The just-opened restaurant at Mayfair grand dame Claridge’s, all bevelled mirrors, marble bar and cushions plumped just so, feels like it’s been around for years. In fact, it’s a new concept in the old dining room which, for the last 20 years, has been operated by outsiders (first Gordon Ramsay, then Simon Rogan, and most recently Daniel Humm). Now it’s been brought back in-house and feels instantly all the better attuned to the rhythm of Mayfair life. Would that all our days could be spent here, over chia pudding and scallop and bacon muffins for breakfast, leisurely lunches of grilled lobster or pumpkin agnolotti, and special celebrations with Champagne and turbot for two.
Brook Street, Mayfair, London W1K 4HR
Opens 30 September
Newcomer Bistro Freddie, from the folk behind Crispin in Spitalfields and Bar Crispin in Soho, has a rising star in the kitchen in the form of Danish chef Anna Søgaard, formerly of hot Manchester restaurant Erst. Søgaard will be cooking ‘food she genuinely loves to eat’ – always a good sign – so expect hearty bistro classics-in-the-making such as Dorset snail flatbread with garlic and parsley butter and rabbit pie for two with wines from an all-French list. The design, by Jermaine Gallacher, is a bit of a departure for the group, being more old school, more français. We can’t wait to see it.
74 Luke Street, Shoreditch, London EC2A 4PY
Sushi by MASA
Opens 7 October
If anything confirms Harrods’ Dining Hall’s transformation into a fully formed, round-the-clock gastronomic destination, then the arrival of Masayoshi Takayama of three Michelin star restaurant MASA in New York is surely it. Sushi by MASA will be the centrepiece of the soon-to-be-reopened Grade II-listed dining hall, with 40 seats around the marble counter serving both omakase and à la carte menus. Also new to the room this season are Kinoya Ramen Bar from chef Neha Mishra in Dubai, Greek concept Assembly Mezze and Skewers, and Pasta Evangelists’ collaboration with two-star Italian chef Giancarlo Perbellini. Live music too, from Tuesday through Saturday.
87-135 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7XL
Opens 18 September
Another concept to cross the river this season is Adejoké ‘Joké’ Bakare’s Chishuru, which began as a pop-up in Brixton back in 2020. Such was its popularity, it went permanent but quickly outgrew its small site. Now Bakare is to get a high-profile central London site, as befits her remarkable talent, where she can explore the cuisines of her Nigerian heritage in even more delicious depth. The £65 set dinner menu (lunch is just £35) includes such dishes as sinasir rice pancakes with white and brown crab and squash purée, and grilled Chinese cabbage stuffed with shallots, utazi leaf, and wild watermelon seed sauce. Don’t miss the pickled okra Martini.
3 Great Titchfield Street, Mayfair, London W1W 8AX
When overseas restaurants come to London, we want them to bring us something we don’t already have. Chef Erik Ramirez’s Llama Inn, at The Hoxton, Shoreditch, does just that with its wild menu of Peruvian cuisine, seen through a distinctively 21st Century New York lens. Head to the rooftop at The Hoxton for a Chupetini, the signature one-shot martini, or a Llama del Rey (!) and split sharing plates of scallop, yuzu kosho, pitahaya, and nori; lomo saltado, scallion pancake, rocoto, pickled chillies and fries; and lucuma tart with miso manjar blanco. The original Llama Inn opened in Williamsburg in 2015, and is one of the New York Times’ Top 100 restaurants 2023.
1 Willow Street, Shoreditch, London EC2A 4BH
Aji Akokomi of West African fine-dining restaurant Akoko has dedicated his new London restaurant to akara, the black bean fritter with Nigerian roots. At Akara, he’ll be fancying them up with fillings such as carabinero prawns, hand-dived scallops, chanterelle mushrooms and vatapá, a sauce made with bread, shrimp and coconut milk. Besides akara, there will also be Akokomi’s version of sinasir rice pancake with bone marrow and yaji; tatale plantain pancake with Senegalese hot sauce; and bofrot, Ghanaian doughnuts. With Chishuru and Akara opening in short succession, it feels like contemporary West African cuisine in London is on the up and up.
Borough Yards, Stoney Street, Southwark, London SE1 9AD