December’s hottest restaurant and bar openings in London, from Tom Aiken’s personal new project in Belgravia to a rebirth for the Gaucho restaurant group
Lead image: Gaucho Charlotte Street
1 Muse by Tom Aikens, Belgravia
Muse, Tom Aikens’ cosy new 25-seater restaurant located in a cosy renovated mews house in Belgravia, was originally due to open this month, but will now open on 11 January 2020. The culmination of many years spent searching for the perfect location, Muse looks set to be the pinnacle of Tom’s career thus far, where the food, interiors and service will come together to provide a magical and memorable atmosphere for all who dine there. Each and every guest will enjoy a kitchen table experience from either the kitchen counter or table side in a rather personal venture for Aikens, where the seasonal, stripped-back tasting menu has been inspired by poignant memories of his early childhood and professional path throughout the years. Signature dishes will spotlight one key ingredient or element per dish, allowing it to tell a story through minimal, yet expertly selected produce. The dining space will be split over two floors – each a fully open plan theatre kitchen – and designer Rebecca Korner has created a luxurious, inviting interior combining an eclectic mix of furniture and lighting with exquisite fabrics, rich woods and jewel-toned marbles.
38 Groom Place, Belgravia SW1X 7BA; musebytomaikens.co.uk
2 Barboun, Shoreditch
Barboun will open its doors in Shoreditch on Monday 2 December with a focus on Levantine flavours and live fire cooking. Executive chef Hus Vedat, formerly head chef of Yosma, puts up-and-coming chef Fezile Ozalgan at the helm to put her own spin on the food of the Eastern Mediterranean’s coastal towns. Barboun, which literally translates as ‘red mullet’ in Turkish, will begin the day bright and early for breakfasts of poached eggs with yoghurt or shakshuka. For lunch and dinner, choose from a mezze-style line-up of regional favourites such as Turkish peppers with tahini, yoghurt and hazelnut, and hellim saganaki, made with Anglum sheep cheese, walnut and dried apricots, as well as modern small plates including the signature red mullet with chunky muhammara and walnut. Larger plates, cooked over the charcoal grill, include braised octopus with coal-roasted potato, aged Texel lamb rump with smoked aubergine, lemon and yoghurt, and large cuts to share. Barboun’s elegant interiors by Fabled Studio feature raw pewter tables and oxblood leather accents, as well as pale wood and rattan screens – a reference to the building’s history as a cabinet maker’s studio.
61-67 Great Eastern Street, Shoreditch EC2A 3HU; barboun.com
3 Gaucho Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia
Gaucho is set to celebrate its 25 year anniversary with a bold new socially responsible vision for restaurants, manifesting itself in the relaunch of its original Charlotte Street site. Opening on 9 December, the first step in the Gaucho 2.0 overhaul, undertaken by the restaurant group’s new management, will see Gaucho Charlotte Street take on a new look and new features. Inside you’ll find a Beef Bar (a four-seater counter bringing the theatre of the kitchens to guests), two elegant cocktail bars, the largest selection of Argentinian wines outside the country, and a cutting edge projector for the Gaucho Film Club (where guests eat and drink what they see on the screen). Food is overseen by Culinary Director Mike Reid, who has had a long relationship with Gaucho and a CV featuring Le Gavroche and Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. Steaks naturally take centre stage in a variety of cuts and weights, plus sharing steaks like Galician T-bone and Chateaubriand. There are also seafood options, a surf & turf featuring lobster and vegetarian options. Plus, there will be plug sockets and superfast WiFi to create an ideal venue for co-working during the day, family-friendly menus and a warm welcome for dogs. Gaucho is also upping its social and environmental responsibility, working towards a more inclusive workforce and being mindful of the techniques used in the production of premium beef.
60A Charlotte Street, Bloomsbury W1T 2NU; gauchorestaurants.com
4 Barbie Green, Barbican
The Daisy Green Collection, famed for its award-winning Australian brunch and speciality coffee, is launching its second City site, Barbie Green, this December. The beautiful site lies within the remains of St Alphage Church and a section of the original City of London Wall, dating back to the 2nd Century. Although historically British, the site of Barbie Green also perfectly encapsulates the characteristically Australian ‘outside in’ feeling thanks to fully retractable glass windows opening up onto an acre of ancient gardens. Adorned with four huge Barbican-meets-Bondi inspired artwork, Barbie Green combines relaxed, light Australian design with cool art and all-day dining menu that includes a new pizza offering. There will also be an expansive alfresco terrace – roll on summer! Open 6.30am-11pm on weekdays and 9am-5pm on weekends.
2 London Wall Place, Barbican EC2Y 5AU; daisygreenfood.com
5 Studio 5ive at the Troubadour, Wembley Park
The brand new 2,000 capacity Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre is opening a stylish new standalone restaurant, Studio 5ive, on 4 Wednesday December. The new 106 cover restaurant, ideal location for pre and post-theatre dining, will bring high-end dining to North West London’s new cultural neighbourhood. The modern British-inspired menu will feature signature dishes of succulent beef cheek served with roasted carrots, dripping toast and beef liquor, and charred aubergine with hummus, muhammara and spiced onions. Sunday Roasts will be a big deal too, with a selection of meats and a changing vegetarian and vegan menu, all served family style with accompaniments for the whole table. Studio 5ive will also bring its own entertainment, with a stage to showcase its own programme of music, comedy and cabaret.
3 Fulton Road, Wembley Park HA9 0SP; troubadourtheatres.com
6 The Melusine, St. Katharine Docks
The Melusine is a brand-new seafood restaurant in St. Katharine Docks, opening on 2 December. Showcasing the freshest and finest shellfish, seafood and fish from across the British coast, the open kitchen will serve a daily-changing and ‘simply sophisticated’ menu that’s ideal for sharing. Dishes include grilled cuttlefish and fava, potted sardines with breakfast radishes and sourdough baguette, and whole fish cooked in one of three ways – either poached, grilled or roasted. The Melusine, open seven days a week, hosts a space for up to 40 covers with an extra 20 covers in an outdoor terrace overlooking the docks. Located within Ivory House, the only original warehouse still standing in St Katharine Docks, the interior embraces the dock’s nautical atmosphere continues, with shades of blue, turquoise and green and materials and patterns found in ships and boats. The space is designed for dining, lunch meetings and a bar ideal for a glass of wine from the European coastal wine list.
Unit K, Ivory House, St. Katherine Docks E1W 1AT; themelusine.co.uk
7 Raj of Islington, Holloway Road
Raj of Kensington is heading north of the river with a second site, Raj of Islington. Due to open on 17 December, the restaurant will focus on the same ethos as the original – home-cooked authentic Indian food from different regions across the continent. The new branch will serve up an array of traditional plates from the British Raj era, made by hand and from scratch, for both lunch and dinner. Signature dishes will include The Railway Lamb Curry (once served on the long train journey from Bombay to Calcutta) and Murg Salli Zardaloo from the Gujarat region, both based on 100-year-old recipes. The drinks list spans wine by the glass to spirits, house-made mocktails, and a vast selection of cocktails and gin. Stocking 16 gin varieties, with three sourced from India, Raj of Islington’s gin-based libations are the restaurant’s crowning glory. The 82-cover restaurant will be a light-filled space, tastefully furnished with plush materials and fashionable textiles. Founded in 2016 by restaurateur Salim Sheikh, who has a background in fine dining, Raj of Islington fuses together two of his greatest loves – great food and rich history.
359 Holloway Road, Islington N7 0RN; rajofislington.com
8 Eastcheap Records, Billingsgate
The team behind Old Street Records, Northcote Records and Venn St. Records is opening its fourth live music and cocktail bar, Eastcheap Records, this December. Situated near Monument tube – on the corner of Eastcheap and Lovatt Lane – the bar will bring great live music on two stages with 2-4-1 cocktails from two bars, and sharing food to fuel the City’s music fans. The bar has partnered with some of London’s coolest labels for new releases and latest editions, and will have a collection of over 5,000 vinyl records for sale so that you can take the good times home. The menu features small plates such as enoki mushroom tempura with China Town sauce, Black Eyed chilli fritters with whipped avocado and mac & cheese nuggets with sriracha mayo, as well as pizzas and three sizes of sharing platter, from ‘snack’ to ‘feast’ and ‘the whole shebang’.
20 Eastcheap, Billingsgate EC3M 1EB; eastcheaprecords.com
9 Prairie Fire, White City
The American pit masters behind Prairie Fire are bringing their barbecue specialties to White City with the launch of their first bricks-and-mortar restaurant and taproom. Launched in 2013 by Kansas City native Michael Gratz, Prairie Fire celebrates Kansas City-style smoked meats, sauces and trimmings. For decades, visitors from across the globe have travelled to Kansas to sample the acclaimed cuisine, where meats are cooked ‘low and slow’ in the smoker. Expect the likes of 16-hour oak smoked brisket, 14-hour applewood smoked pork, burgers and an array of vegan and vegetarian dishes featuring smoked jackfruit and portobello mushroom. Masters in the ancient art of smoking with wood, Prairie Fire got its start trading at food markets and festivals throughout London, serving a wide range of meats including USDA smoked brisket, pork, chicken and samplers, alongside burgers, sandwiches and more. The new restaurant will be the first to open in TFL’s new Wood Lane railway arches development – a mix of commercial, leisure and retail space. Prairie Fire will take over two archways, one for the restaurant and another for a taproom, which will serve a rotating selection of London craft beers and host monthly tap takeovers.
Arch 88-89 Wood Lane Arches, White City W12 7LH; prairiefirebbq.com
10 Maia, Knightsbridge
Maia, a chic new brasserie on Hans Crescent, Knightsbridge, is set to open in mid December. Michelin-trained Head Chef Mauro di Leo will be in charge of the menu, while award-winning drinks specialist Richard Woods heads up the bar. Chef Di Leo’s approach is one of balance and less-is-more, letting seasonal ingredients do the talking. Menu highlights include sweet, plump scallops with sea kale and pea puree, perfectly grilled sea bass with datterini tomatoes and Taggia olive concasse, and classic spaghetti vongole. Mindful eaters are encouraged to choose dishes designed by Francesca The Method, whose micro menu features ancient grains, healing herbs, dairy-free options and gluten-free breads, with dishes such as lightly-cooked king salmon and a vegan burger with beetroot and cauliflower with sweet potato fries. Maia is open for lunch, afternoon tea, aperitivo and everything else through to dinner and exclusively-crafted Italian cocktails. from classics to innovative new serves. The interiors reference the 1960s, with mono-colour interiors shot through with tasteful geometric prints making for chic and minimalist décor, as well as comfortable chairs and soft banquettes in sumptuous dark leather.
32-34 Hans Crescent, Knightsbridge SW1X 0LZ; maiamood.com
11 BOTTLES Chelsea
Following on from its successful Old Spitalfields Market launch last year, BOTTLES is venturing into west London with the opening of a new site on Draycott Avenue on Monday 9 December. Bringing its signature Italian-inflected style to a new light and buzzy space, BOTTLES Chelsea will focus on micro-producers, natural and fine wines alongside a relaxed and authentic food offering, from arancino to black cod and espresso-glazed ribeye steak. Unlike its sister venues which are designed with an industrial and rustic aesthetic, the new Chelsea site will be the light and airy counterpart. The glass-fronted wine bar will feature a bespoke timber wine wall where you can buy your favourite wines after indulging in dinner or a casual glass of wine, while the white and blue tiled bar/dining area is set beneath a skylight so that natural light streams in. Downstairs and within the kitchen itself, there’s also a clandestine dining room for private dinners and Italian supper clubs.
100 Draycott Avenue, Chelsea SW3 3AD; bottleswine.bar
12 Casa do Frango, Shoreditch
Casa do Frango, the Portuguese grilled chicken connoisseurs, will launch their second site this month, this time heading for Shoreditch. Set to open in December, the new branch will shine a light on the flavours of authentic Algarvian cuisine, with influences from other regions of Portugal. As with its first London Bridge site, charcoal-grilled piri piri chicken will take centre stage, with the restaurant upholding Algarvian cooking traditions and preserving the age-old techniques of the region’s grill masters. Their famous frango (chicken), as well as many of the much-loved favourites from the original venue will appear on the menu, including grilled chorizo, charred cauliflower, African rice and the Montanheira salad. New dishes include prawn rice (Arroz de Camarão), portuguese beef cheek stew (Carne Guisada) and acorn-fed black pork from the Alentejo (Porco Preto). The restaurant will channel the country’s treasured café culture, with the ground floor housing a bespoke dark oak bar serving a menu of petiscos (the Portuguese equivalent of tapas), and an open-plan pasteleria (bakery), where you’ll find Portugal’s lauded custard tarts. The main dining room, with open-plan kitchen, will be upstairs. You can also enjoy three special Casa do Frango beers – Cerveja da Casa (house beer), Piri Piri Cerveja da Casa (a spice-infused blend), and Fogo (an extra spicy piri piri blend).
2 King John Court, Hackney EC2A 3EZ; casadofrango.co.uk
13 The Mac Factory, Putney
The Mac Factory, the street food brand that insta-famous for its New York-inspired mac & cheese, is opening a cheese diner in the Exchange Shopping Centre on Putney High Street on 10 December. The Mac Factory uses fresh pasta which is then enrobed in freshly-made bechamel cheese sauce – the only mac & cheese street food brand to use traditional bechamel sauce – with a mix of British Carron Lodge Extra Extra Mature cheddar and mozzarella for the classic ‘cheese pull’. They then go the extra mile with exciting toppings like La Med Babe (no-nut pesto, semi dried tomato and baby mozzarella balls), Posh Spice (spicy chorizo with harissa and caramelised onion) and Hey Mac-Arena (smoky Chipotle beef chilli con carne, tortilla chips, sour cream and jalapeños). Each Mac is also topped with a bespoke Parmesan and thyme crumble. The Putney diner will be open seven days a week and include weekly specials inspired by New York diner classics including hotdogs and smoked pulled-pork brioche buns stuffed with classic mac & cheese. To celebrate the opening of the new 250sq ft diner, The Mac Factory will be giving away 100 mac & cheeses to the first 100 people who turn up on Tuesday 10 December from 11am.
Putney High Street SW15 1TW; themacfactory.co.uk
14 Birdies, Battersea Power Station
Birdies, London’s newest immersive crazy golf experience, cocktail bar and street food eatery, opened at the end of November in Circus West Village, the first phase in the regeneration of Battersea Power Station. The first experience of its kind in the area, Birdies joins a number of independent bars, restaurants and shops under the railway arches. As well as playing a surreal 9-hole course, with each individual hole designed to derail the senses and challenge speed, accuracy and determination, Birdies has a cocktail bar – a destination in its own right – with a party vibe and super sleek decor – and food by Taco-Yaki, created by one of the world’s leading Pan-Asian chefs, Ian Pengelley, alongside head chef Andrew Weatherley. The playful street food menu features yakitori, a selection of filled tacos, a stacked katsu chicken ‘sando’, and takoyaki (octopus dumplings with Japanese mayo, signature sauce and pickled ginger. Birdies is brought to you by the team behind SFG Club in Stratford and London’s Rooftop Film Club.
8 Arches Lane, Battersea SW11 8AB; playbirdies.com
15 Glass House, Brick Lane
Alex Peffly and Z He, the husband and wife team behind Bun House, Wun’s Tea Room and Pleasant Lady, are set to launch a new bar and community hub on 2 December. Glass House’s ethos of serving its neighbourhood means that it will focus on locally-brewed beers and spirits distilled on its doorstep, and its doors will be open to everyone from laptop-toting freelancers to friends looking to kick start their evening. During the day, Glass House’s coffee bar will offer locally-roasted brews and blends, alongside food made using ingredients sourced from quality suppliers such as The Dusty Knuckle Bakery. There will be sweet pastries and hot breakfast butties in the morning, freshly-made sandwiches for lunch and, come evening, classic cocktails and a selection of London-only craft beers. The glass-fronted building will sit at the crossroads of Brick Lane and Bethnal Green Road, offering a bright and airy space illuminated by white tube lighting and bright pops of colour. The space will centre around the terrazzo counter bar accented with clean stainless steel touches, and a glass-encased recording studio. Glass House will also be the Headquarters for Glass House Games, a new media channel aiming to bring underrepresented perspectives in creative media to the commentary and critique of video games.
Brick Lane & Bethnal Green Road E2 6DG
16 Patty&Bun, Liverpool Street & Kingly Street
Patty&Bun is set to open two new sites on Monday 9 December, and will be celebrating burger giveaways at each. The burger legend is returning to Liverpool Street, but this time double the size, with both take-away and eat in areas. New additions to the menu include a stronger vegan presence and the return of the P&B brekkie, which will be available on Friday’s only offering the likes of sausage and bacon breakfast buns in buttered white potato rolls and hash browns. To celebrate the opening, P&B is giving away 500 free Ari Gold, Dig It or Whoopi Goldburgers for free on opening day. Then there’s the Kingly Street site, their second in Soho, located right in the centre of Carnaby with space for 65 diners. Here, the P&B team will be bringing back its notorious sticker hunt, hiding 50 stickers around the Carnaby area. Find one and you can trade it in for a free burger in store.
22-24 Liverpool Street EC2M 7PD & 26 Kingly Street, Soho W1B 5QD; pattyandbun.co.uk
17 Other Side Fried, Brixton
Street food favourites Other Side Fried will be opening the doors to its very first bricks-and-mortar restaurant in a converted railway arch in Brixton on 2 December. The launch marks a homecoming for founders, Matt and Tommy, who started the brand when living together in the area and took their fried chicken burgers to Brixton night market in a converted food truck. Now, the two are bringing an updated menu of signature burgers, strips and sauces, with the addition of the team’s very first vegan burger and vegan Dirty Tots. The site will also serve a drinks menu of Camden Hells lager on tap and can of NICE white wine, as well as cans of whisky & coke and gin & tonic. Designed as a 16 cover takeaway restaurant, the site will join Other Side Fried’s kiosks at Leicester Square, Pop Brixton, Peckham Levels and Camden Market. To celebrate the launch, Other Side Fried will be giving away 500 FREE Buffalo burgers from 12pm on 6 December to people who subscribe to their newsletter here (first come, first served).
Unit 14, Atlantic Road, Brixton SW9 8HX; othersidefried.com