Amuse-bouches: The latest restaurant news bites

We round up this week’s news, including the opening of a restaurant serving a six-course menu inspired by a chip shop, and a cheese-focused eatery based on a barge.

News:

Gerard Basset: The long-awaited memoirs of legendary sommelier and wine professional Gerard Basset will launch later this month after hundreds of wine trade professionals raised money to see them published. Basset, one of the most decorated wine professionals of his time, died in January 2019 after a long battle with cancer. In the course of his career he added the letters OBE, MS, MW, MBA, OIV, and MSc to his title, and remains the first, and only, individual to hold the Master of Wine qualification simultaneously with the Master Sommelier and MBA Wine Business qualifications.

Wilder Wines: Shoreditch-based restaurant and bar Wilder will be launching a new wine tasting series called Wilder Wines. Led by head sommelier Lucy Ward, the series will begin with an exploration of the wines of Bordeaux. Ward will present an array of wines, from classics to new organic and biodynamic wines showcasing wine regions and winemaking techniques. Guests will sample six different wines, paired with snacks made by head chef Richard McLellan. The first event takes place on 10 March.

Terry Kandylis: Head sommelier of wine members’ club 67 Pall Mall, Terry Kandylis, is to leave his post at the end of the month to take on the role of beverage and wine director at Australian restaurant group Lucas. Kandylis will take on responsibility for wine and drinks at the Lucas restaurant group. Headed up by Chris Lucas, the group has sites in Melbourne and Sydney including South East Asian-inspired flagship Chin Chin Melbourne and Gogo Bar, pizzeria Baby, Kong BBQ, Singapore and Malaysian restaurant Hawker Hall, three-level Japanese concept Kisumé and Chin Chin Sydney.

Coronavirus and takeaways: National office provider Offices.co.uk has asked local restaurants to switch to providing takeaway food. “We don’t want to see any of our restaurant neighbours hurt financially through this crisis, and therefore ask local food outlets to step up and provide food to people directly – we need to work together” says Jonathan Ratcliffe from Offices.co.uk.

Openings:

Bar El Rincón: The team behind Spanish specialist Camino have opened a new wine and tapas bar in London’s King’s Cross. Meaning ‘bar on the corner’, the sustainability-focused site will feature a small drinks menu consisting of a white, red and rosé Spanish wine, as well as fizz and sangria, all available on tap to reduce waste. Draught Estrella beers will also be available alongside a couple of cocktails. Dishes include Arroz negro (black rice with cuttlefish, squid ink and aliolli); croquetas de jamón; gambas ajillo (prawns with garlic, chilli and white wine); Ibérico meatballs and cheese and spinach cake. The 35-cover site will be open from 5pm to midnight Tuesday to Saturday until spring 2021.

Six by Nico: Chef Nico Simeone is set to open his first London restaurant on Fitzrovia’s Charlotte Street on 31 March. The menu will reflect his Scottish-Italian heritage and will be built around the concept of ‘the chippie’ with a new six-course tasting menu rotating every six weeks. Priced at £35, the tasting menu may feature dishes including filo cannelloni filled with taramasalata, keta caviar and crème fraiche; potato croquette coated in vinegar powder and parmesan espuma drizzled with curry oil; fish supper of Shetland, confit fennel, samphire beer emulsion and pickled mussels; and deep-fried mars bar with Caramelia, chocolate mousse, blood orange sorbet and cocoa nib. All wines will be sourced from Europe and a wine pairing option will be available for an additional £33.

Ben’s Kitchen: Chef Ben Prior, formerly of Ben’s Cornish Kitchen in Marazion, is to open a new restaurant with rooms in St Ives in Cornwall. Prior’s previous restaurant, which achieved critical acclaim, closed last year, but a new project was promised. Called Ben’s Kitchen at No. 27 The Terrace, the new project is a collaboration with Mick Smith, executive chef and partner of the Porthminster Collection. Based in a Georgian townhouse, the site boasts nine bedrooms and a 20-cover restaurant. The restaurant will also feature a wine list with “an unapologetically South African bias”. The restaurant opens on 17 March and will serve a tasting menu for £65 and a three-course set menu for £39.

The Cheese Barge: Paddington is set to get its third floating restaurant this spring when Mathew Carver, founder of Pick & Cheese, opens The Cheese Barge in Sheldon Square. Due to open in April, the Cheese Barge will serve dishes including goats’ curd with lamb scrumpets and pickled walnuts; medjool dates stuffed with Stilton and wrapped in bacon; fried curried Cheddar curds in chilli honey; and Maida Vale washed rind cheese on treacle soda bread with smoked mackerel. The barge, which is currently being built in Somerset, will boast a copper veil awning for the 40-cover lower deck dining room.

Cookout Club: Chef Philip Britten has launched a delivery-only – and coronavirus-friendly – fine dining restaurant based out of a so-called ‘dark kitchen’ in Battersea. Called the Cookout Club, the concept was launched this month by Britten and aims to offer fine dining delivered straight to your door, with two courses for under £20 a head. Operating under the tagline ‘delivering fine dining meals at everyday prices’, the concept currently delivers to Brixton, Balham, Wandsworth, Kennington, Vauxhall, Lambeth, Battersea, Clapham and parts of Kensington and Chelsea. Two further kitchens are projected to open this year, allowing the initiative to expand its reach.

Closures: 

TāTā Eatery at Tayer + Elementary: As reported by Eater London, TāTā Eatery has announced the closure of its four-seat tasting menu counter at Tayer + Elementary on Old Street. The counter will stop serving on 28 March, having opened in May 2019.

River Cottage Kitchen Bristol: Celebrity chef, writer and restaurateur Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is to close his River Cottage Kitchen restaurant in Bristol owing to “challenging market conditions”. The restaurant, based on Whiteladies Road in Bristol, is to close after seven years. A statement also noted that the size and location of the restaurant meant that it was “no longer a viable option for the business”. Fearnley-Whittingstall, the founder of River Cottage, still operates restaurants in Axminster and Winchester, as well as his farm and cookery school, referred to as River Cottage HQ. The Bristol restaurant will close on 27 March and the group is hoping to offer staff alternative employment at its other sites “where possible”.

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