Amuse-bouches: The latest restaurant news bites

We round up this week’s restaurant news from a MasterChef: The Professionals star opening a new brasserie and wine bar, to the reported closure of Nobu on Berkeley Square.

News:

Melbourne’s Dinner by Heston: The parent company of Melbourne’s Dinner by Heston, which went into voluntary liquidation in December, allegedly owes staff at least AU$4.5 million, a creditors’ report has found. The report, which was obtained by The Age and the Sydney Morning Heraldrevealed that Dinner by Heston had been consistently underpaying its workers since it opened in the Crown Casino in 2015. Chef Heston Blumenthal has not owned a restaurant since 2006. He is not a shareholder in any of the companies linked to his name and cooking style.

The Michelin Guide: The Michelin Guide has unveiled a new green clover symbol in its France guide to indicate restaurants with “commendable environmental practices”. First revealed at the launch of the Michelin Guide France 2020 on 27 January, the new icon has been allocated to over 50 sustainable restaurants. The symbol can be given to chefs whose restaurants have been awarded the plate, bib gourmand or 1-3 stars.

Zeroken Robo Tavern: A Tokyo restaurant chain has had to resort to using a robot bartender to make drinks at its railway station pub after it failed to find a human who was up to the job. As reported by the Daily Mail, the Zeroken Robo Tavern in Tokyo’s bustling Ikebukuro train station has a robot bartender that makes drinks for commuters. Customers have to pay for their drinks at an automated kiosk. They then receive a QR code receipt that they present to the robot, which scans the code and makes the drink they requested. The robot can allegedly pour a perfect pint in 40 seconds and a cocktail in under a minute.

Openings:

Maison François: Brasserie and wine bar Maison François is set to open in St James’s, London in the spring. The trio behind the project include restaurateur François O’Neill; MasterChef: The Professionals star Matthew Ryle, who will helm the kitchen; and Ed Wyand who will be leading the front of house team. Paying homage to the brasseries of Paris, Lyon and Alsace, Maison François will have its own in-house bakery. Dishes include reblochon gougères and oeufs mimosa with fresh herbs; ravioli dauphine with Comté and black pepper; Grelot onions, wild garlic and brown butter hollandaise; boudin noir, wood roasted peppers with Pedro Ximenez; and pea fricassee, broad beans, gem lettuce, Riesling and tarragon. The brasserie will have its own pudding trolley, carrying classics including layered Gateau Marjolaine, praline Paris-Brests and a daily selection of seasonal fruit tarts.

Gymkhana London: Gymkhana is set to reopen on the 18 February following a major refurbishment. The restaurant, which suffered a fire in the summer of last year, will reopen its doors on Albemarle Street, serving the same contemporary, boldly-spiced chatpatta Indian food which won it its first Michelin star in 2014. Dishes include Chettinad duck dosa with coconut chutney; kid goat methi keema with Salli and Pao; abd wild muntjac biryani and duck egg langoustine bhurji with malabar paratha.

Padella Shoreditch: The team behind successful Borough Market pasta palace Padella will be opening their new Shoreditch outpost on 11 February. Based on Phipp Street, the restaurant will serve the same simple and affordable pasta dishes and will boast an on-site bakery.

Bar El Rincón: Camino’s Richard Bigg is to launch a bar in King’s Cross in March called Bar El Rincón, which translates as ‘the corner’ in Spanish. Further details have not yet been released, but the bar will have a limited wine selection, with one of each colour on tap.

Closures:

The Square: Michelin-starred restaurant The Square in London, which is owned by restaurateur and businessman Marlon Abela, was closed mid-service last week after administrators seized the site. Customers and staff were asked to leave the restaurant on 31 January as administrators were reported to have seized owner Marlon Abela’s assets. It is believed that staff were aware of the restaurant’s difficulties after Abela faced bankruptcy charges back in October last year. However, they were not given any warning that the restaurant was to be closed nor have they been paid for the month of January 2020.

Umu: Umu, another restaurant which is owned by Abela, also fell into administration this week. Specialising in Japanese cuisine, the restaurant is continuing to trade while administrators seek possible buyers. Abela’s other restaurant, The Greenhouse, continues is reported to be unaffected.

Nobu: Nobu on Berkeley Square is reportedly set to close according to Property Week. The restaurant was founded by chef Nobu Matsuhisa, actor Robert De Niro and film producer Meir Teper.

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