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Hot London restaurant openings: March

Bun House

Sadly nothing to do with children’s game show Fun House presented by mullet-sporting Pat Sharp, Bun House is a Chinese steamed bun street café on Greek Street in Soho. Due to open next week, the venue is inspired by the Hong Kong teahouses of the ‘60s. With interiors harking back to the city’s colonial days, diners can get their steamed bun fix up at the counter or grab them to go.

Priced at £2.50 a pop, the house bun is rammed with sticky barbeque pork belly, with other options including lamb, chicken, fish and a veggie option served with house pickles and sides like house fries (made from deep fried marinated duck tongues) and cucumber salads. Daring diners should order the Rec Choc Bun for dessert, crafted from dark chocolate, pig’s blood and chilli. Don’t tell everyone but below the bar is a speakeasy-style late night drinking den accessed via a secret door serving Hong Kong brewed craft beer and classic cocktails with a Chinese twist.

Duck & Waffle Local 

Open 24 hours a day, Duck & Waffle, housed on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower in the City, is to open a more casual sister site this May in St James’s Market off Regent Street. Dubbed Duck & Waffle Local, the site will serve a duck-centric menu with an accessible, fast-casual concept.

While its signature Duck and Waffle dish (a confit duck leg on a waffle with a fried egg, served with maple syrup) will headline on the menu, new dishes include a duck burger with crispy duck leg, and a duck jam doughnut. Mixologist Rich Woods will look after the drinks list, bringing with him his trademark quirky cocktails, which will be served until last orders at 1am.

108 Garage 

Having recently opened just off the Ladbrooke Grove end of the Portobello Road, Garage 108 has already become one of the most talked about restaurants of the year, with usually sharp-tongued critics lining up to lavish it with praise. Unfortunately this means it might be hard to snag a table, but it’s worth trying.

Founded by former financier Luca Longobardi, head chef Chris Denney comes by way of The Square, Viajante and the three Michelin-starred Piazza Duomo in Alba. Having studied fine art, his dishes are painterly in presentation. Interiors are all bare brick, vintage furniture and corrugated iron. Among the dishes on offer are veal sweetbreads with king cabbage and hazelnuts; butter poached crab with golden turnip; and chocolate cremeux with artichoke ice cream and wild rice.


Two new foodie hubs have emerged this year – St James’s Market off Regent Street (home to Veneta and Aquavit) and the Nova complex in Victoria, where Jason Atherton recently set up shop. The latest addition to Nova is Lorne, which promises to be a foodie and wine lover’s delight, with former River Café sommelier Katie Exton and Brawn chef Peter Hall at the helm, who met while working at The Square.

Food and wine are given equal attention at Lorne, which specialises in seasonal British dishes like mackerel with pickled cucumber, ratte potatoes and nasturtium; quail, butternut squash and barley; brill with baby gem, sea vegetables and dashi; and Yorkshire curd tart with builders’ tea ice cream. Wines meanwhile, have been sourced from all over the world. Glasses start at just £4.50 and include a Fiano from Campania, Vermentino from the Languedoc, Clonakilla Shiraz and Barbaresco from Piedmont.

Rick Stein Barnes 

Having sworn he’d never be lured to the capital, celebrity chef Rick Stein has finally opened his first London venture – the eponymous Rick Stein Barnes.

In keeping with Stein’s obsession with the sea, the west London restaurant at Tideway Yard specialises in fishy delights like Dover sole a la Meunière and salt and pepper prawns as well as a selection of new dishes like stifado, a rabbit stew with caramelised onions, red wine, cinnamon and currants inspired by Rick’s travels to Greece.

Boasting panoramic views of the Thames, the venue will offer a set lunch menu during the week. Stein founded his first restaurant in Padstow in 1974 and has since opened a series of seafood spin-off sites.

Allan Pickett at The Swan

There is no recipe to guarantee the success of a restaurant. Having a super talented head chef and an appealing central London location sometimes isn’t enough to thrive in the capital’s cutthroat dining scene. Alan Pickett’s debut solo venture, Piquet in Fitzrovia, closed its doors last September just a year after opening having been named the 7th best restaurant in the UK at the National Restaurant Awards.

Undeterred, Pickett is back in business, having been named head chef of the Swan within Shakespeare’s Globe on the Southbank. His modern British menu will include dishes like hand-dived scallops with Granny Smith apple and squid ink mayonnaise; ham and Savoy cabbage terrine with Yorkshire rhubarb and sourdough toast; and Old Spot pork belly, black pudding, creamed celeriac and Somerset cider brandy prunes.


Popular Peruvian haunt Coya in Piccadilly is to open a sister site in Bank in early May on the ground floor of the new 24-storey Angel Court development. Boasting a Latin American bar and a Peruvian restaurant, at the helm of the food offering is executive chef Sanjay Dwivedi.

Highlights from his menu include lobster ceviche with gazpacho and aji limo; cuttlefish ceviche with ginger, yuzu, and squid ink; and leg of Josper fired lamb with chifa vegetables. At the Pisco Lounge a map style menu takes you on a journey through South America via classics like the Pisco Sour and more daring concoctions like chilli-infused Margaritas. Inside the restaurant, a six-seater hand-carved ‘rum round table’ can be booked.

Tamarind Kitchen 

London’s first Michelin-starred Indian restaurant – Tamarind in Mayfair – has opened a casual sister site in Soho called Tamarind Kitchen. Aiming to bring the buzz of an Indian kitchen to Soho, the 100-cover site gives some of Tamarind’s signature dishes a modern makeover, with the tandoor oven playing a starring role.

On the menu are tasty treats like soft shell crab with potato salad and homemade pickles; tandoor-cooked quail on a bed of vermicelli; morel and pea dumplings in a spiced creamy sauce; and kingfish curry with tamarind, mustard and curry leaves. A basement bar will serve classic cocktails with an Indian twist.

The Game Bird

Boasting one of the most brilliant but little-known cocktail bars in London filled with model planes, flags and military memorabilia hanging from the ceiling, The Stafford hotel in St James’s has a shiny new restaurant in the form of The Game Bird.

In keeping with London’s thirst for informal dining, The Game Bird is a casual concept headed up by executive chef James Durrant that shines a light on British comfort food. Durrant has impressive pedigree, having chalked up stints at Gordon Ramsay Royal Hospital Road, Claridge’s, and Maze.

Among the dishes on his debut menu are smoked Norfolk black chicken with a Clarence Court duck egg, bacon jam and pickled mushrooms; and Orkney scallops with roasted cauliflower, smoked roe and gremolata.  With trolleys enjoying a resurgence in the capital, diners can get their fish fix via a trolley dispensing the likes of Balvenie cured smoked salmon, trout gravadlax and Lincolnshire smoked eel served with cucumber and dill pickle, mustard dressing, and horseradish crème fraîche.

National Café

At the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square you can feast your eyes on masterpieces by Constable, Turner and Gainsborough. But man cannot live on art alone. Recognising this, the gallery has opened a shiny new restaurant, the National Café, in collaboration with Peyton and Byrne.

The redesign features booth seating, a private dining room and a cocktail bar. Guests can get stuck into modern European dishes like cornish squid with puntarella and Sicilian lemon; Goosnargh duck and pistachio terrine with blood orange salsa; and Galician bavette with tomatoes and gremolata, while bar snacks include monkfish cheeks; and girolle and black truffle arancini.

Bon Vivant

Given the number of restaurants there are in London, it’s amazing the name Bon Vivant hasn’t already been taken, but this cheeky French number has just opened in Bloomsbury, meaning Londoners can get their croissant and tartine fix without having to hop on the Eurostar.

Keen for its diners to live the good life, among the dishes on offer are French classics like fish soup, goat’s cheese tart, foie gras terrine, mussels in a creamy sauce, magret de canard, and bavette steak in a red wine jus. Booze hounds can make the most of its bottomless brunch offer with French-themed cocktails like the Pigale, which blends Tequila, Saint Germain elderflower liqueur, lime juice and sugar syrup.

Ivy Café Richmond

The Ivy Café concept has been rolled out to leafy Richmond in west London. The latest venue in The Ivy Collection is due to open next month offering all-day dining and a slice of signature Ivy glamour via an onyx bar, pendant lighting, antique bronze mirrors and marble floor tiles. Open seven days a week, expect the likes of tuna carpaccio with crushed avocado, jalapeño, coriander, lime and shaved radish; and chicken Milanese with fried hen’s egg and black truffle.

The Ivy’s cocktail maestro Jeremy Evans has created a collection of sips that tip their hat to Richmond, including Riverside Collins, which blends Wyborowa vodka, elderflower cordial, cucumber, apple and lime, topped with Aspall cyder. The Ivy Café Richmond joins sister sites in Marylebone, Wimbledon Village and St John’s Wood.

Pizza Pilgrims Shoreditch

With London’s love affair with Italian cuisine showing no sign of slowing, the cool kids at Pizza Pilgrims have branched out with a Shoreditch site offering BYO, meaning wine lovers can enjoy their beloved bottles of Barolo, Barbaresco and Brunello and a gooey margherita for a tiny corkage fee. Interiors stay faithful to its Neapolitan roots via retro gingham tablecloths.

Favourites like spicy nduja, portobello mushroom and truffle, smoked anchovies with black olives and the classic margherita topped with flor di latte and all present and correct. New additions include prosciutto pops, crust-dippers and tiramisu. Chocoholics can have a calzone fashioned for them from their favourite bar.

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