2018 was a stellar year for new openings.
The beginning of the year brought us ex Barrafina, Neives Barragan’s, Sabor and Ramael Scully’s aptly named, Scully. We were left in awe of a tarte tatin so meticulously woven after the opening of Roganic, and the utterly brilliant, Brat from ex Kitty Fisher’s chef, Tomos Parry.
We sprung into April with Cornerstone and HIDE (go check out their pop-up in Burlington Arcade). Things got a little Bright-er as P Franco made permanent moves in Clapton. The year nearly peaked in the height of summer with the opening of St Leonards, ROVI, Bancone, Cora Pearl and 1251.
We wound down the year with a hot opening from Tom Kerridge and a very Instagrammable artichoke at Two Lights. Kym’s brought dim sum and so much more to the city, as Salon got a cool younger sister in Peckham with the opening of Levan and ex Dairy Head Chef, Richard Falk opened Lino.
Now, as we slowly wade back into the daily grind, 2018 has left us wanting more, and boy oh boy does 2019 have some scorchers up it’s sleeve. We’ve spoken to some of our favourite foodies to find out which openings have got them on the edge of their seats.
It’s almost impossible to narrow it down! Acclaimed Turkish chef Civan Er brings a taste of Istanbul to London’s Soho with Yeni. I’m looking forward to being reunited with the famous manti dumplings! The guys behind P Franco are opening their third site, Peg where Legs restaurant used to be… expect some banging food and tunes (with a queue of hipsters of course). Angelina is bringing a Japanese / Italian mash up to Dalston… because why not and where else?
In Spring, ex head chef of Chiltern Firehouse, Patrick Powell is opening Allegra, a shiny new restaurant with a sky garden filled with herbs and vegetables in the new Manhattan Loft Gardens. Spring also brings us, Flor the new wine bar and bakery from the team behind Lyle’s (one of my favourite restaurants, cannot wait for this one!!). They’re opening in London’s bustling Borough Market along with Bao, my go to place for soft fluffy Taiwanese buns. If that’s not enough, the rest of the year will see the opening of, Eggslut – all the buns from the USA! Expects lots of eggs on buns appearing all over your Instagram feed.
Finally, fresh from opening in Covent Garden comes the second branch of dumpling maestros, Din Tai Fung CentrePoint. Hopefully the queues for *THOSE* XLB’s won’t be as long (apparently the waiting time was 5 hours on opening day).
Good Lord, it’s hard to keep up with the London dining scene. It’s on fire right now. Here are two 2019 openings that I’m super excited about:
The new grilling restaurant, Parrillan, from the Barrafina at Coal Drops Yard in Kings Cross is going to be epic. The guys have secured an outdoor terrace and will be BBQ’ing up a storm over the balmy summer months.
Despite already smashing the opening of the first Din Tai Fung UK, the team are already poised for the second site in Centre Point. Hopefully, this will mean a better chance of bagging a table for those coveted Xiao Long Bao without the miserable queue.
There are too many to mention but the opening I’m probably most excited about is Master Wei, a solo project by Chef Wei who made her name at Xi’an Impression. I feel that Cantonese food is commonly categorised as ‘Chinese food’ but more regional cuisines from China are now becoming ever more popular. Xi’an Impression and their famous biangbiang noodles is a great example of this. I had the pleasure of dining at a private dinner hosted by Chef Wei and Jason Li, and it’d be an understatement to say that they are talented chefs who are doing a great job in showcasing different regional food from China. I’m excited to try more food from Xi’an and the Shaanxi region!
Other notable mentions for me: Angelina (Japanese/Italian mash-up); Flor (the team behind Lyle’s); Eggslut (I’m the personification of this name). The London food scene never fails to excite – it’s going to be a great year!
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Food of the Shang-highest quality by @jason888li 🇨🇳 The first supper club of Jason’s that I attended a few months ago was one of my fave meals this year. This time he joined forces with chef @guirongwei of #XianImpression to create a “Shanghai to Xi’an” dinner. To say that the food was incredible would be an understatement 🤤 More on my stories. Swipe to see just a selection of the food served up: 1 – Spring onion oil noodles with truffle oil 2 – Fresh, hand-pulled, small batch biang biang noods 3 – Just a selection of the starters including oil exploded prawns 🦐 4 – Prawn, pork and Chinese chive dumplings 5 – Pot stickers 6 – Biang biang pull 7 – Rou jia mo (Chinese beef burger) 8 – Braised pork chop with marinated egg 9 – dream table 10 – 53% golf liquor digestif 🤪
I’m really looking forward to the new openings by Robin Gill and Patrick Powell – both chefs are just brilliant – creative and truly committed to sustainability and championing the best possible produce. Plus, that commitment to sustainability extends to the way they treat staff too, mentoring and developing their teams both back and front of house. I’ve loved all Robin’s restaurants since he first opened The Dairy and can’t wait to see this new one at Embassy Gardens. And Patrick – it’s been too long since we’ve had a chance to enjoy your food! Bring it on!
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Guinness Soda Bread | ‘This is one of the easiest and most satisfying bread recipes. The method is so simple yet the results are very pleasing. I bake this every Christmas and serve it with smoked salmon on the day, then the following days with jam and butter or a bowl of soup. It's a great recipe for involving the younger ones in the family as they can get their hands nice and dirty mixing the dough. Note to self, a pint of Guinness is not a bad partner.’ Full recipe is available in #LARDER & we’ve got signed copies in stock. #guinnessisgoodforyou #christmaspresent #realbread #giftguide #cookbook 📷 by @paulwf
Of course there will be a few surprises (a good thing), but 2019 seems most likely to see offshoots and site 2s, 3s and 4s for established and proven operators. Of those, I’m looking forward to Flor, a wine bar and bakery from the team behind Lyle’s, plus the new BAO, both of which are on the edge of Borough Market. I think Merlin Labron Johnson (former head chef at Portland and Clipstone) is opening a restaurant too; I like his cooking so will definitely keep an eye out for that.
Super excited about Darby’s sometime this year because I think Robin Gill is amazing. Loved the Dairy and Sorella and can already expect this one to be a hit. Really awesome. Close second is Eggslut coming over from the States which continues to movement of international brands coming to London, cementing its place as a global culinary hub. Plus those eggs look ridic.
I’m excited for Angelina Dalston to open its doors soon! Although many may see Japanese and Italian cuisines as very different I think they marry up perfectly – Josh Owens-Baigler has created a wonderfully innovative menu and I was lucky enough to get a sample of his tasting menu late last year. I also can’t wait for Adam Handling’s new opening – he’s such a wonderful chef and his chicken butter is to die for!
And of course, no list would be complete without an awesome dessert.. the wonderfully talented Claire behind the legendary pies @apieparty is launching a dessert bar in Covent Garden in early February and I am SO excited to see what epic creations she has in store!
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Just 2 weekends left to try this month’s special, S’mores Pie. Baked chocolate ganache, topped with a mountain of homemade marshmallow fluff 🤗I’m not going to miss making this pie but I’ll definitely miss eating it 😁 thanks for this awesome pic @kingkeneats 🙏❤️ . . . . #pie #apieparty #londonpie #londonfood #londonfoodie #londonfoodscene #londonfoodmarket #londonstreetfood #lovelondon #streetfood #foodmarket #streetfooddessert #victoriaparkmarket #bestfoodlondon #londoneats #foodbible #2018yearofthepie #dessert #instapie #piesofinstagram #pieporn #virginstartup #piepreneur #londoneats #tastelondon #outinlondon #entrepreneur
I’m really excited for the opening of HaiDiLao. Bringing hotpot to the masses can never be a bad thing, and while there are many decent places to go at the moment in London, it’s still a bit of a strange concept to people. Hoping that HaiDiLao will make it a much more regular event for everybody