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September means back to school for the nation’s pupils, undergraduates and teachers, a return to Parliament for MPs, and an end to the silly season for the nation’s newspapers. With the country returning to the capital with its sleeves rolled up, this month is also a busy time for new restaurant openings in London. This September is no exception, with 30 restaurants – one for every day of the month – launching in London.
In the last week, Soho has seen some important newcomers land, including noodle star Koya Bar, which has opened next door to the original on Frith Street, Richard Caring’s latest venture Grillshack – an all-day counter-service offering on Beak Street – and a fourth branch of Thai favourite Rosa’s, on Ganton Street. Elsewhere in the West End, carnivorous Stateside import The Chop Shop has opened on Haymarket, and former grandee Boulestin has been revived for the 21st century.
Not only that, but three key industry players are launching new projects. The most hotly anticipated is from Gordon Ramsay’s Southwark-based Union Street Café (pictured, top right), which will open on 16 September. Ramsay protégés Jason Atherton and Angela Harnett will also launch exciting projects in the capital: Atherton is opening new restaurant Berners Tavern at the Edition Hotel on 12 September, while later this month Harnett will launch Merchant’s Tavern – an edgy warehouse offering in Shoreditch, created with partner Neil Borthwick (ex-The Square) and the owners of the Canteen chain.
Perhaps due to the opportunities provided by the current economic climate, coupled with Londoners’ apparent refusal to curb their penchant for eating out, many established restaurateurs are braving new restaurant concepts, or testing out a new direction for their existing brand. On 9 September, Searcy’s will relaunch its Restaurant at the Barbican as Gin Joint – a celebration of mother’s ruin backed up with hearty takes on traditional British dishes; Trishna chef Karam Sethi will open Gymkhana, an opulent Indian restaurant in Mayfair, on 10 September, and the brains behind the Ping Pong chain, Kurt Zdesar, will open a Japanese/Brazilian one-off called Chotto Matte (pictured, left) in Soho, on 16 September; meanwhile, Westbourne Park will see an intimate, 14-cover restaurant addition to the neighbourhood from ex-Gavroche, ex-River Café chef Marianne Lumb, who is launching her self-titled solo venture on 10 September. Plus, the backers behind Tom Aikens’ flagship restaurant, are bringing Kitchenette – a chain that already has successful branches in Turkey, Russia and the Middle East – to Putney, with Aikens pencilled in as executive chef.
Add to that recent arrivals whose popularity is seeing them launch sibling branches – such as 28°-50° Mayfair (9 September), Champagne + Fromage Brixton (15 September), Honky Tonk Clapham (18 September) and BRGR.CO Chelsea – plus established restaurant chains which are also expanding, from Vinoteca Chiswick to restaurant and cocktail bar One Canada Square (the 11th venture from Tom and Ed Martin, opening at the end of the month), and it looks like this month will offer something new to suit every taste.