In 2015 London witnessed more new restaurant openings than any year previously, and it looks like the 'gastronomic capital of the world' has no plans to slow down in 2016.
Expect to see a number of new ventures appearing from some well-known faces like Clare Smyth, entering into her first solo enterprise, plus more established figures on the dining scene, like Jason Atherton and Nundo Mendes, embarking on new culinary adventures around the capital. Newcomers to the London scene are set to include acclaimed Spanish chef Eneko Atxa and American Paolo de Tarso as well as a potentially controversial re-visit from artist Damien Hirst with his new gallery restaurant.
Find out more below.
1) Pharmacy 2, Vauxhall (main photo)
Artist Damien Hirst is set to re-open his acclaimed Pharmacy restaurant as part of his recently launched Newport Street Gallery in Vauxhall. Hirst's initial restaurant Pharmacy opened in Notting Hill back in 1998 creating a stir for its controversial medical theme and clinical interior which inadvertently hooked an ardent celebrity following.
The details of his new venture are still under wraps. Only the exterior signage gives a visual clue and a website note of 'coming soon' tantalise the expectant diners. Gallery visitors are sure to be treated to some innovative cuisine in a growing trend of museum restaurants worth a visit in their own right.
Opening: Keep updated on the website for an opening date and a hint of what's to come.
Nuno Mendes, the Portuguese executive chef behind the Chiltern Firehouse and Taberna do Mercado in Spitalfields is set to re-locate his Viajante restaurant. Having launched an ambitious £1.75 million crowdfunding campaign he plans to open up in a riverfront Victorian warehouse in Wapping building on his past successes which won him a Michelin star. While he's not spilled the details yet he does confirm that the service will include "numerous courses bringing wave after wave of breathtaking tastes and textures."
Opening: By autumn 2016
3) Clare Smyth
Clare Smyth, will open her first solo restaurant in autumn after almost a decade leading the kitchen at Gordon Ramsey's Royal Hospital Road where she maintained an impressive three Michelin stars. She begins the new venture with Ramsey's full support who commented "she is undoubtedly one of the greatest chefs to have graced my kitchen."
Opening: Autumn 2016
4) Jason Atherton - Sosharu and Jason Atherton Italian
Jason Atherton will have his hands full this year with not one, but two restaurant openings planned. He extends his restaurant empire with a Japanese restaurant, Sosharu, engaging the "izakaya" concept, due to open in Clerkenwell’s Turnmill Building in March. Don't go expecting ramen and sushi as they won't be on the menu but there will be a super small intimate dining experience promised in the upstairs room.
Atherton will also open an Italian restaurant, Jason Atherton Italian, in the autumn which will even feature a pasta room where diners can watch their fresh pasta being made.
Opening: March 2016 (Sosharu), Jason Atherton Italian (Autumn)
5) Margot, Covent Garden
Margot, is the love child of ex-Bar Boulud maitre d’ Paulo de Tarso (pictured above) with La Petite Maison General Manager Nicolas Jaouën. The 100-cover Italian restaurant co-creation is expected to open by May. Lips have remained tightly sealed so far - except that the restaurant will "celebrate the glamour and rustic charm of Italian food, wine, and design". But given the credentials of the leadership team service is expected to be sublime.
Opening: May 2016
6) Eneko, One Aldwych
Eneko Atxa, hailing from the three-Michelin-starred Azurmendi near Bilbao in Spain, will launch Eneko at One Aldwych in the summer. Diners should expect more of Atxa's signature inventive cooking for which Azurmendi snagged a top 20 place in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list with a more informal flair.
Opening: Summer 2016