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Hot new London restaurant openings: April

The Woodford

Already being tipped as one of the most important restaurant openings of the year, The Woodford in Essex aims to bring Mayfair levels of fine dining east. At the helm is 25-year-old Ben Murphy, a former Young National Chef of the Year who has worked for Pierre Koffmann at the Berkeley, Michel Guerard at Les Pres d’Eugenie in south west France and Epicure at Le Bristol in Paris under Eric Fréchon.

The elegantly designed Georgian space is split over two floors and features an oyster and seafood bar, blue banquettes and filamentt bulbs in the middle of each table. Delicious dishes include aubergine and toasted peanut; hay smoked pigeon breast with confit egg yolk and burnt brown bread consommé; lobster, lemon, peach and fennel; and olive oil cake with lemon thyme sorbet and buttermilk. There’s the option of a seven-course tasting menu, which is paired with wine and craft beer.

The Woodford, 159 High Road South Woodford, London, E18 2PA 


From the makers of Trullo comes pasta palace Padella in Borough Market. Meaning “pan” in Italian, Padella specailises in handmade pasta from £7. Featuring locally sourced seasonal ingredients, among the selection will be tagliarini with brown shrimps, green and yellow courgette; squid ink tagliarini with mussels, chilli and oregano; ravioli of pumpkin and marjoram with sage butter; and pappardelle with eight-hour beef shin ragu.

Pasta will be theatrically rolled in front of diner’s eyes, with fresh batches made every day. Those keen for a three-course meal can kick off with burrata, deep fried meat balls or beef carpaccio and end on a sweet note with pear and almond tart or salted caramel ice cream. Cocktails have an Italian accent, with the Negroni, Americano and Aperol Spritz all making cameos, alongside a small range of wines on tap and British beers.

 Padella6 Southwark St, Greater London SE1 1TQ 

Bao Fitzrovia

While db has yet to brave the queues at the popular Soho original, steamed bun specialist Bao is on to its second site, this time in leafy Fitzrovia. Due to open in May, the venue, which started life as a street food stall in Netil Market, will set up shop on Windmill Street. Larger than its sibling, Bao 2.0 will have a bigger menu and a greater focus on cocktails. Among the sips on pour will be the Koxinga made with yuzu, lemon and gin; and Izu Dancer, featuring sake, umeshu, almond milk, rose water and orange peel.

Split in two, the ground floor is all minimalist chic – think white walls and lashings of wood, while things get grittier in the basement via metallic walls and an open kitchen. Bao’s popular steamed buns will be present and correct, including newbie the Gold Coin Chicken, rammed with pork belly, chicken liver paté and chicken skin.

New for the second site will be a selection of Xiao Chi – small eats like oysters with green chilli pickle; and crispy bird’s feet with hot sauce. Among the bigger dishes are quail stuffed with pig’s blood; ox heart with Schezuan dressing; sausage with XO; and fried chicken, rice, cured egg and salmon roe.

Bao, 31 Windmill Street, Fitzrovia, London W1T 2JN


If you haven’t tried Seoul food yet then you’re in for a treat, as Kojawan – a new hybrid restaurant that shines a light on Korea, Japan and Taiwan, lands in London this month. Focusing on their three capital cities: Seoul, Tokyo and Taipei, the site on the 23rd floor of the Hilton Metropole is decked out like a futuristic izakaya bar featuring manga graphics and hi-tech interiors.

In charge of the food offering is dynamic duo Bjorn Van Der Horst of Greenhouse fame and Omar Romero of Rhodes Twenty Four and The Rosewood, who will be serving up glazed lobster dogs with sesame seaweed ponzu; popcorn prawns and liquorice fish sauce; rice-sandwiches and a twist on Eton mess with lychee-green tea meringue and sake cream. Drinks include Kirin beer with a frozen foam head, clay-aged cocktails and a selection of sakes.

Kojawan, 23rd floor, Hilton Metropole, 225 Edgware Road, London W1T 1QQ


The Criterion, one of the capital’s prettiest dining spaces, has had a makeover and reopens this month as the Italian inspired Savini. Partnering with the Milan original, owned by the Gatto family, its London sister will make everything from the bread to the pasta by hand.

The opulent Grade II listed, neo-Byzantine, chandelier-filled space will operate like a grand café, open from morning until night for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and digestifs. Among the standout dishes will be veal ossobucco with saffron risotto; pappardelle with wild boar ragout and juniper sauce; and its signagture tiramisu. Don’t leave without sneaking a peek in the boutique, where you’ll find a plethora of Italian goodies including honey and truffle oil.

Savini, 224 Piccadilly, London W1J 9HP 

The Café

Sweet-toothed Londoners rejoice! You can scrap your starters, miss your mains and dive straight into dessert at the Café Royal’s new restaurant – The Café – a paean to puds in Piccadilly. The fully fledged dessert restaurant within the five-star London hotel has partnered with patissiere Sarah Barber on the project, who has devised a five-course tasting menu called Sarah in Wonderland, featuring the likes of the Milky Way, made with goat’s cheese, wild honey and beetroot snow; and chicken foie with quince and brioche.

Also on offer is the Queen of Hearts, made with raspberries, Champagne and roses; the Mad Hatter featuring kirsch and cherries; and Eat Me, Drink Me, formed of Snickers and a chocolate malt shake. The Childhood Memories menu has a selection of nostagic dishes like rhubarb & custard and a twist on Jaffa Cakes, while guests can choose four dishes from the Pick ‘n’ Mix menu. Puds come with suggested wine pairings, such as Prosecco with the Milky Way; Henriques y Henriques Madeira with the Jaffa Cake; and Château Roumieu Sauternes with Eat Me, Drink Me.

The Café at The Café Royal, 68 Regent St, London W1B 4DY 


Steak, lobster and whisky are three of the most wonderful things in life and the kind people at Hush in Mayfair have combined them in a shiny new restaurant called Blades opposite Jimi Hendrix’s old flat. Inspired by Mayfair in the 1960s, Blades takes its name from the private member’s club to which James Bond’s M belonged and boasts walls lined with black-and-white photos of ‘60s icons. Whole Cornish lobsters are served three ways: grilled, tempura or Thermidor. Meat fiends meanwhile, can pair their half lobster with a rib-eye or sirloin served with Bloody Mary ketchup, Stilton butter and Blades’ whisky glaze.

Also on the menu is whisky-cured smoked salmon; lobster beignets; stargazy pie; lobster & rabbit; and molasses marmalade roly poly. Whiskey’s three key producing nations: America, Scotland and Japan, are well represented on the drinks list, which includes a number of limited bottles from “forgotten” distilleries. Diners can enjoy their drams neat, as part of a whisky flight or in a selection of cocktails including Mr Kipling’s, made apple wood infused rye, egg white and orange bitters.

Blades, Lancashire Court, 8 Brook St, London W1S 1EY

Bob Bob Exchange

Bob Bob Ricard in Soho is to get an edgier little sister in the form of Bob Bob Exchange in the capital’s financial heart. The brainchild of Russian restaurateur Leonid Shutov, BBX will feature live fine wine auctions every half hour. Due to launch next spring in the Leadenhall Building, affectionately known as the “cheese grater”, the 180-cover venue will take over the entire third floor of the building and will mirror BBR’s booth format. In the “executive class” private dining room, guests have their own bar and private jet style seating.

Wines that are auctioned off on the trading platform will start at cost price with diners given the chance to compete for them via display screens dotted around the restaurant. The house Champagne will be poured from methuselahs and Bob Bob Ricard’s popular “press for Champagne” button will feature at the site. But what of the food? Seasonal meat, fish and veg will be cooked over an open flame or smoked in-house.

The Leadenhall Building, 122 Leadenhall Street, London EC3V

Walter & Monty

Having carved a niche for his meaty treats at street food festival Night Tales, Alex Kaye has found a permanent home for his venture – Walter & Monty – at Bury Court near Aldgate. Specialising in grilled meat and fish, the 30-seater space has a grey, navy and gold colour scheme and features an open kitchen, marble counter, parquet floor and a five foot chopping board to hammer home the butcher’s shop feel.

Overseen by head chef Nick Ross, dishes include beef picanha; and butterflied leg of lamb marinated in mint, garlic and lemon. W&M will also go big on salads, offering five variants with six sauces including one laced with Scotch Bonnet chilis for fire fanatics. On the booze front, expect Bloody Marys and Dirty Martinis aplenty.

Walter & Monty, Bury Court, London EC3A 


Just when you thought you’d heard of every cuisine going in our glittering metropolis, a Russian street food venture sets up a permanent site in Soho. Not to be confused with the sadly defunct Zuma on Bermondsey Street, Zima (the Russian word for “winter”) is the brainchild of Russian chef, author and TV food presenter Alexei Zimin.

Housed beneath French restaurant Jean Jaques on Frith Street, the space has been kitted out to look like a Soviet era vodka bar. With venison, herring and scallops all headlining on the menu, among the snacks on offer will be crab claw with bread crisps and red caviar; and honey and sour cream cake, which can be washed down with fennel and tarragon-infused vodka, or one made with lingonberry and apple with curry leaves if you’re feeling particularly adventurous.

45 Frith Street, Soho, W1D 4SD 


One for all you health nuts out there – Shot in St Paul’s as all about lean, clean food and cold press juices its owners promise are “delicious and nutritious”. Convinced that healthy eating needed mean dull dishes, everything is prepped fresh on site daily. Dishes include courgetti noddle salad with avocado, chicken pho, mackerel and beetroot salad, and chicken hummus and baked falafel wraps that tip their hat to Leon.

The smoothie range sounds like a series of workouts and are designed to boost your energy and endurance levels. Owners Asad Naqvi and Rahil Malik partnered with nutritionist Alice Mackintosh on the menu, which is be free from refined sugar, additives, flavourings, emulsifiers, colourings and preservatives – naturally.

Shot, 23/23A Bride Lane, London EC4Y 8DT

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