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Crisis? What crisis? Amid the financial doom and gloom, we’re detecting a certain ‘keep calm and carry on’ spirit to London’s restaurant scene. The Square Meal hotline hasn’t stopped ringing lately with news of imminent high-profile launches – there’s more going on than in a cabinet reshuffle. Of course, any restaurateur worth their salt won’t want to reveal too much before launching a new eatery – intrigue is all, after all – but our investigations team has left no stone unturned to bring you every last bit of inside information about this year’s coming attractions...
Lutyens Grill – The ground floor of the former Reuters building will re-emerge in the first week of July as a restaurant from Prescott & Partners, who recently launched Boundary along with Sir Terence Conran. Fronting the kitchen will be David Burke, the former head chef of Le Pont de la Tour.
Bar Shu – The popular Frith Street Szechuan specialist will reopen in August following a fire earlier this year. Look forward to spruced-up interiors and a revamped menu combining new creations and old favourites such as the fiery fragrant chicken in a pile of chillis (pictured left).
Aqua London – The top floor of the former Dickins & Jones department store on Regent Street will be taken over by Aqua London in the first week of September. The offshoot of a successful Hong Kong-based restaurant group, the space is to be divided into three distinct areas: a Spanish eatery called Aqua Nuevo, Japanese restaurant Aqua Kyoto and Aqua Spirit, a bar.
Green’s Restaurant & Oyster Bar – Early September will see the launch of the Cornhill offshoot of Mayfair’s fishy stalwart housed in the one-time Lloyds of London HQ. The owner is socialite Simon Parker-Bowles, investors include Andrew Lloyd Webber and funnyman Ronnie Corbett and signature dishes such as smoked haddock Parker Bowles will be on the menu.
Michel Roux Jr – Le Gavroche head honcho Michel Roux Jr (pictured right) has revealed plans to open a French restaurant at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. Yet to be named, it ‘will offer fine-dining à la carte and tasting menus, as well as light, affordable lunches,’ Roux says. He added that the views over Parliament Square will be superb.
Pétrus – Gordon Ramsay Holdings has confirmed it is to relaunch Pétrus just metres away from its previous incarnation at The Berkeley, with chef Mark Askew (previously at Royal Hospital Road) installed in the kitchen. Modern French cooking will be supplement by a 2,000-strong wine list and two private dining rooms.
Galvin La Chapelle – Chris and Jeff Galvin (pictured left) are currently converting St Botolph’s Hall, a Grade II-listed building on Spital Square, into a multi-faceted site: ‘We’ll deliver democratic dining – from “grand cuisine” in the restaurant to cocktails in the bar, and a classic “café de luxe” with outdoor seating,’ says Chris. It’ll also be a family affair with Chris’s wife, son and other brother, David, all involved.
Hakka Berkeley – As with all of Alan Yau’s projects, a veil of secrecy surrounds the launch of Hakka Berkeley. All we know for now is that the vast site on Berkeley Street certainly won’t be a carbon copy of sister Hakkasan. Instead, it will focus on Peking cuisine and the design is set to be even more decadent.
The Luxe – Masterchef presenter John Torode will open this sibling to Smiths of Smithfield in a striking three-tiered building in Spitalfields this autumn. The ground-floor will house an all-day café with a large alfresco area backing on to the market. Upstairs, a smarter dining room will speicalise in poutlry – expect rotisserie chicken and lots of game.
Roka – The second London branch of the buzzing Japanese that rarely puts a foot wrong with its cool design, contemporary food and spot-on service will open in Canary Wharf. In common with its Fitzrovia sibling, there will be a robata grill and a Shochu Lounge bar, plus an alfresco balcony and chef’s table.
Dean Street Townhouse and Dining Room – The fifth London outfit from the Soho House group, will be a hotel, members’ club and open-to-all restaurant with an emphasis on English food.
Jamie's Italian – The all-singing all-dancing chef, campaigner and general nice guy Jamie Oliver has confirmed plans to open a London outpost of his pukka eatery Jamie’s Italian. He’s chosen a site in the Churchill Place mall in Canary Wharf.
Daniel Boulud & Bill Granger – Our capital’s thriving restaurant scene continues to draw internationally acclaimed chefs. Recent reports suggest that both New York masterchef Daniel Boulod and Sydney-based Bill Granger are looking for sites to open their own restaurants in London.
Heston Blumenthal – The rumours have finally been confirmed: the culinary alchemist will be opening a restaurant at Knightsbridge’s Mandarin Oriental hotel in autumn 2010. The space formerly occupied by one-Michelin-starred Foliage will close next spring for refurbishment to make way for the as-yet-unnamed project, where Blumenthal will cook up dishes from Britain's gastronomic history. It certainly made fun viewing on his recent TV series, though hopefully the menu won’t be quite so outlandish – we’re not sure how well turtle soup would go down with 21st-century tastes.
Marlon Abela – The man behind The Greenhouse, Umu and members’ club Morton’s has purchased the former site of Oratory on Brompton Road and is transforming it into a Provençal-style restaurant.
Savoy Grill – Following a two-year £100m refurb, the Savoy Hotel will reopen in early 2010 and with it the Savoy Grill. The restaurant will still be operated by Gordon Ramsay Holdings, with Stuart Gillies in charge. ‘We hope to bring the restaurant back to its former glory,’ says Gillies, ‘back to the days when Escoffier himself was in the kitchen.’ There will be roasts from a daily trolley, a private room in the space once occupied by Banquette and a chef’s table with windows looking into the kitchen.