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21 April 2014

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andre garrett at cliveden 2013 - Andre-Garrett-at-Cliveden-1_resized.jpgConcerns about the economy may linger, but November is shaping up to be another terrific month for grand openings and top chefs setting up shop outside London. Is confidence returning to the UK restaurant scene?

Cliveden, in Buckinghamshire, has been viewed as a sleeping giant in recent years, so the blaze of publicity surrounding the re-launch of its Terrace Restaurant as André Garrett at Cliveden bodes well for the historic house. With the ex-Galvin at Windows head chef (pictured, right) bringing confidence and energy to proceedings – as well as his own inimitable style of modern French cooking – diners can look forward to a new era at this iconic country retreat.

Still at the glossy end of the spectrum, there’s plenty to get excited about at Auberge du Lac in Hertfordshire (the former hunting lodge of Brocket Hall), which has recently seen the arrival of a dynamic duo in the shape of ex-Hibiscus head chef Marcus McGuinness and Arbutus co-founder Anthony Demetre (culinary consultant). McGuinness made waves with his old boss Claude Bosi, and now that he is firmly in control, there’s no doubt he will take Auberge du Lac on to bigger things.

Bucking the trend for swapping London hot spots for country piles, Michelin-starred chef Adam Simmonds has left Danesfield House in Marlow to concentrate on finding himself a new home in the capital. Danesfield’s white-panelled, Anouska Hempel-designed Oak Room is now the temporary domain of Billy Reid, who has upped sticks from the kitchens at Paradise by Way of Kensal Green to take up a short winter residency.

And yet another former Michelin-starred chef is on the move. Since quitting Ludlow’s La Bécasse in September, Will Holland has been on the look-out for a Shropshire property, and recently announced that he will be opening his first solo venture (as yet unnamed) in Bridgnorth sometime in spring 2014. Watch this space.

peace and loaf 2013 - Cured-seabass_-kens-vegetables-and-spiced-carrot-soup_resized.jpgBut it’s a tale of mixed fortunes for BBC MasterChef contestants. Dave Coulson, a 2010 MasterChef: The Professionals finalist, has opened the 56-seater Peace & Loaf (pictured, left) in Jesmond, Newcastle-upon-Tyne (his home turf), while 2009 MasterChef winner Mat Follas announced the closure of his restaurant, Wild Garlic in Iwerne Minster, Dorset.

This feature was published on 18 November 2013.

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