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London restaurants to watch in 2016

Lucky Chip Burgers & Wine

First out of the blocks will be Lucky Chip Burgers & Wine, which opens in Dalston at the end of the month. The project is the brainchild Ben Denner, founder of popular peripatetic burger stall Lucky Chip, who decided to give his first permanent site a fine wine focus due to his passion for wine.

The 100-bin list has a strong New World focus, with the US, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia all shown some love. Denner has only added a small mark-up on the more expensive bottles to encourage diners to trade up.

On Thursday nights a “cult” wine will be opened and served by the glass at cost price, while tasting menus paired with wines by the glass will be on offer on Fridays at the 10-seater bar. Burgers include Lucky Chip classics like the Kevin Bacon, Royale with Cheese and El Chappo, along with new creations like the Antonio Banderas made with 50-day dry-aged Galician beef. 

Restaurant Ours

Having wowed us with his beef dripping candles and three bear’s porridge, young gun chef Tom Sellers is to open his second venture in South Kensington next month called Restaurant Ours. While details of the menu are being closely guarded, the cuisine will combine “classic and contemporary European influences”.

Taking over The Collection on Fulham Road, famous for its long, catwalk-style entrance, Sellers is due to consult for the restaurant, leaving Daniel Phippard of Kensington Place in charge. Among the quirkier design details will be three giant trees soaring up to 10 metres high.

Pharmacy 2

We at db are old enough to remember enfant terrible Damien Hirst’s original Pharmacy restaurant and bar in Notting Hill, which closed in 2003 five years after opening amid much hype with backing from PR whiz Matthew Freud that secured a suitably glitzy celebrity following.

While an opening date has yet to be set, we’re hoping for a similarly bonkers venue including pill-shaped bar stools and waitresses dressed in green surgical gowns. Hirst reincarnation, Pharmacy 2, will be housed within his Vauxhall art space, the Newport Street Gallery, acting as a café for visitors during the day and a destination restaurant by night.


The team behind one of the most exciting openings of 2015 – Pidgin – are back with a bang this year. In keeping with the aviary theme, the new venture by James Ramsden and Sam Herlihy has been christened Magpie, which aims to shake up central London dining via 30 modern British dishes priced between £3-30 served from customised trollies. In what looks to be a big year for female head chefs in the capital, at the helm will be Pidgin’s leading lady Elizabeth Allen.

Among the local seasonal dishes on offer will be 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. Pidgin’s Margot Tyson has put together the wine list featuring 10 reds and 10 whites by the glass, while a cocktail trolley will serve pre-mixed classics.

Clare Smyth

One of the most hotly anticipated openings of the year will be the debut solo venture of Clare Smyth, chef patron at 3 Michelin-starred Restaurant Gordon Ramsay on Royal Hospital Road in Chelsea. Smyth will go it alone this year, having worked for Ramsay for over a decade and acquiring a stake in his eponymous site.

“Restaurant Gordon Ramsay has been a big part of my life. The restaurant has formed me into the chef that I am today and I’m grateful for the opportunities it has given me. I also remain ambitious and want to build on my success,” Smyth said of the move. Very few details are known of the restaurant at the moment, which is due to open in the autumn.

Som Saa

Thai street food looks set to hog a lot of the limelight this year, helped in no small way by chef Andy Oliver, who is due to open a Som Saa site in east London this year via a crowdfunding campaign, though details of where and when have yet to be finalised.

Oliver made a stonking success of his residency at Climpson’s Arch last year. Oliver will be serving his signature street food dishes like pork belly curry and salt-roasted red prawns in what looks to become one of the capital’s best Thai restaurants.


Chiltern Firehouse’s executive chef, Nuno Mendes, is to reopen his beloved Michelin-starred Viajante restaurant concept via a £1.75 million crowdfunding campaign. The original Viajante at the Town Hall Hotel in Bethnal Green closed last February and became the Typing Room run by talented young gun Lee Westcott.

Mendes, who also runs the Portuguese focused Taberna do Mercado in Spitalfields, has secured a location for Viajante 2.0 – a riverside Victorian warehouse in Metropolitan Wharf in Whapping, and hopes to open the reincarnation this autumn, which will pay close attention to texture. The tasting menu will be priced at £120-£140 a head including drinks. 


One to watch Seb Holmes is to open his own Thai street food venture this year tantalisingly close to db towers at a new dining space in Flat Iron Square under the railways arches between London Bridge and Waterloo East. Called Farang after a colloquial Thai word for “foreigner”, the site is due to open this March.

Aged just 25, Holmes cut his teeth at The Begging Bowl in Peckham before moving to the Smoking Goat in Soho where he was head chef. He’s also found the time to work with Andy Oliver at his Som Saa pop-up, which is soon to go permanent.


photo credit: Richard Pohle

Having taken a bite out of the Big Apple last year with Social on Madison at Ian Schrager’s Edition hotel on New York’s Madison Avenue, Worksop-born wonder chef Jason Atherton is due to open a Japanese venue, Sosharu, in Clerkenwell this year, headed up by one of his protégés, Alex Craciun. Seating 80, the restaurant will serve dishes inspired by Japanese cuisine made with British ingredients.

Inspired by Tokyo’s izakaya bars, the causal site will shun sushi and ramen in favour of sahshimi and teppanyaki dishes. Expect cocktails and Japanese hip-hop in the basement – curiouser and curiouser. Atherton also plans to open an Italian restaurant in the new development in Victoria.


Little is known about Covent Garden newcomer Margot, but more will be revealed at 2016 chugs on. Due to open in May, the restaurant is the brainchild of Bar Boulud maitre d’ Paulo De Tarso, who has teamed up with general manager of Mayfair’s La Petite Maison, Nicolas Jaouën, on the venture, so we’re expecting the service to be top notch. Margot will “celebrate the glamour and rustic charm of Italian food, wine, and design”.


Staying in Covent Garden, looking to give Barrafina’s latest incarnation competition is Duende, the first solo venture of Victor Garvey, co-founder of Bravas Tapas in Tower Bridge.

The modern tapas restaurant will serve the likes of cured salmon rulada with crispy sweet potato, red onion escabeche and wasabi alioli; Iberico pork belly with piquillo pepper glaze and the deliciously decadent foie gras crema Catalana alongside an all-Spanish wine list. The wonderful word “duende” is hard to translate from Spanish to English, but describes an emotional response to a work of art, theatre, literature or dance.

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