22 July 2014

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20 best new openings of 2013


the shard 2012 - 1206_The-Shard_1.jpgAqua Shard
Sparkling, panoramic views of the capital are guaranteed to thrill at this sky-high proposition from the Hong Kong-based Aqua group.
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Bird of Smithfield
After a 20-year spell at The Ivy (and more besides), Alan Bird has flown the coop to set up this self-named megalith opposite Smithfield Market.
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Fanfares and permanently engaged phone lines heralded the arrival of Balthazar – the hottest ticket in town and a deserved winner of the BMW Square Meal Award for best new restaurant in the spring.
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Named after the first steam train to run on the old East London line (under which it is housed), Beagle is a confidently casual neighbourhood restaurant flanked by a spacious bar and daytime coffee shop.
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Berners Tavern
With Pollen Street Social, Little Social and the Social Eating House all riding high, unstoppable Jason Atherton has launched yet another eatery in the form of big, bold and brash Berners Tavern.
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Chabrot Bistrot des Halles
The team behind best-selling Chabrot Bistrot d’Amis have launched an imposing second site whose plate-glass frontage, black awnings and gold lettering are as effective as any tricolore in nailing its colours to the mast. Poised at the corner of Smithfield – hence its market-themed moniker – this spacious new offering suggests a smart brasserie rather than a cosy bistro.
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The Clove Club
Following their talk-of-the-town residency Upstairs at the Ten Bells, chef Isaac McHale and two of his bright young sidekicks have launched a flagship restaurant offering a five-course menu of clever, envelope-pushing dishes.
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The Five Fields
The setting on a quiet Chelsea street might not set foodie pulses racing, but Five Fields is special – an appealing restaurant with clever cooking and cheerful modern manners.
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Flesh & Buns
Inspired by his Soho hit Bone Daddies, Aussie chef Ross Shonhan has opened this rocking izakaya-style joint in Covent Garden. Star billing goes to the titular pairing of steamed ‘hirata’ buns and DIY ‘flesh’ fillings.
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Grain Store
Bruno Loubet’s second outfit occupies an imposing brick warehouse on regenerated Granary Square, where vegetables and greenery reign supreme and animal protein is given a supporting role on the menu. Expect a ‘cook’s world tour’ with flourishes reminiscent of Yotam Ottolenghi.
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With Michelin-starred Trishna already wowing the crowds in Marylebone, Karam and Jyotin Sethi have launched Gymkhana – an opulent, low-lit destination inspired by colonial India’s Days of the Raj sports clubs.
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The Aqua Group’s second sky-high restaurant in the Shard takes inspiration from the company’s Michelin-starred Hutong in Hong Kong. Northern China is the gastronomic compass point, and the ‘glorious’ Peking duck (carved tableside and served in two stages) is a guaranteed conversation stopper.
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Merchants Tavern
Michelin-starred queen bee Angela Hartnett has teamed up with chef Neil Borthwick (ex-The Square) and the founders of Brit-themed Canteen chain for this new City venture – a slick, ‘cavernous’ space several notches up from your usual tavern.
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Bubbly Marianne Lumb’s CV lists stints at Le Gavroche and The River Café, plus a top-three appearance on MasterChef: The Professionals and a successful career cooking for the rich and famous. Her latest project is this bijou eatery – a lesson in understated elegance
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The brainchild of international restaurateur Rainer Becker (Roka, Zuma etc), Oblix rises to the skyscraper challenge, taking multicultural New York for its inspiration here, with a menu of skilful food tailored to the ‘unforgettable’, gasp-inducing backdrop.
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The Pearson Room
This Canary Wharf newcomer is a generous smörgåsbord, with a good dollop of style on the side. The room itself, up above Canada Square, is laid-back yet smart, with a zinc-topped bar, mottled antiqued mirrors and slouchy leather sofas alongside the dining area.
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Restaurant Story
With a CV citing Noma, Per Se and Tom Aikens, 26-year-old Tom Sellers is no rookie, and his fiercely ambitious debut is out to impress. Occupying the site of a toilet block close to Tower Bridge, the dining room references Bermondsey’s heritage (Delft tiles, leather detailing, blown glass) and it feels surprisingly homely – despite the gastronomic wizardry on display.
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Located in a roomy semi-circular space, with shabby-chic, wood-heavy surrounds, Smokehouse sports a whopping 75 beers (20 of them on tap) and a menu of carnivorous delights – thanks to chef Neil Rankin from Pitt Cue Co.
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Social Eating House
With its quirky portraits, Victorian curios, blue neon and gilded mirrors advertising steaks and sundaes, this is low-key media-land hip cranked up a notch or two. Ex-Pollen Street Social chef Paul Hood is tuned into the vibe and his tight seasonal menu is leavened with fashionable ingredients.
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Union Street Café
David Beckham pulled out at the last minute, but that hasn’t stopped a rush for tables at Gordon Ramsay’s new venture – and the fact that Union Street Café is doing brisk trade proves that Ramsay himself retains impressive pulling power.
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