If 2016 was the year that excess returned to London eating (the splendidly over-the-top Sexy Fish, the rather underwhelming Park Chinois), then 2017 sees the return of the big chefs, according to The Resident’s food columnist, Tom Parker Bowles
Lead image: Rick Stein
The return of the big chefs is not so much a regression to a decade back – where chefs spent more time in hair and make up than they did behind the stove – but rather celebrated pan-shakers, moving into pastures new.
So Jean-Georges Vongerichten is back in town once more, this time opening Jean-Georges at The Connaught. Expect laid-back, all-day scoffing. Another 3-star Gallic maestro, Anne-Sophie Pic, will bring her resolutely modern tucker to La Dame de Pic in the Four Seasons hotel.
The deeply gifted Martha Ortiz will bring her brand of Mexican magic to The Intercontinental. Proof, if needed, that Mexican food in London is finally being treated with the respect it deserves.
And it’s all change for two brilliant chefs who learned their trade under Gordon Ramsay. Clare Smyth, for so long the 3-star helmer at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, is off on her tod, albeit with the backing of old boss Ramsay. As is news that Monica Galetti, formerly boss at Le Gavroche, is opening Mere in Charlotte Street. Her sommelier husband, David, will be in charge of the wine. Expect great things from both women.
For rather less, well, ‘feen deening’, but every bit as exciting, Ruthie Rogers, the exalted doyenne of The River Café, is opening in Mayfair. It nearly happened last year, but some petty objections put paid to that.
And Rick Stein, after years of swearing he’d never open in London, has succumbed at last and will open a place in The Depot in Barnes. Expect cracking fresh fish, from the Pope of all things piscine.
Red Rooster, the modern soul food temple from Harlem, will be building a nest in The Curtain Hotel in Shoreditch. While another bird, Magpie, the younger sibling of the much-loved Pidgin, will open in the West End, with all the food and drink delivered on trolleys. Sounds gimmicky but Head Chef Elizabeth Allen knows her stuff, and expectations are suitably high.
Rick Stein, after years of swearing he’d never open in London, has succumbed at last and will open a place in The Depot in Barnes
I’m also excited about Lao Café in Chandos Place, a permanent extension of the sweatily authentic Rosa’s Thai Café pop-up. With Saiphin Moore at the helm, London at long last gets proper Lao food. Bob Bob Ricard brings its beautiful brand of sexy eating to Bob Bob Exchange in the city, while Soho House opens The Ned, in Poultry EC1, a modest project with a mere nine restaurants. Phew!
Anyway, what with Brexit, and the newly ensconced President Trump, the future looks uncertain, to say the least. But the one thing you can guarantee, in the capital at least, is an exceptionally well-fed 2017.