November sees some tantalising new openings, intriguing developments and fascinating changes of chef in restaurants around the UK. It’s the month that marks the start of the countdown to Christmas, so many restaurateurs are rushing to get their new projects up and ready for business - and it’s not just the big hitters who are having their moment.
Very little has been heard of starry chef John Campbell since he left the Dorchester Collection’s Coworth Park
(pictured above) three years ago. So it’s good to note that the man himself – recipient of two Michelin stars during his eight-year stint at The Vineyard at Stockcross
in Berkshire – has just opened a restaurant in the former Five Bells pub not far from his former stamping ground. The Woodspeen
, a 66-seater restaurant and 18-seater bar, is the result of a project that took two years to come to fruition. The final stage will be completed when a cookery school opens in a converted 19th-century barn on 1st December.
In October we brought you the news that Rick Stein was planning to open a new restaurant in Winchester. Now the chef is focusing on his beloved Cornwall once again. In a surprise move, Rick and his business partner Jill Stein have announced their takeover of the Clay Quay restaurant in Porthleven. The new venue, called simply Rick Stein Porthleven
, will open at the end of November – making it the fifth eatery in his empire. The menu will feature sharing plates such as Singapore chilli crab, grilled sardines, and squid and chorizo salad, all inspired by the chef’s travels.
In nearby Devon, Chris and James Tanner have sold Tanners, their fine-dining restaurant in Plymouth, which they opened in 1999. The new owner is Ben Palmer, a quarter-finalist in BBC MasterChef: The Professionals 2011, and a former head chef at the Tanners' Barbican Kitchen
, also in Plymouth (which the brothers will retain). Palmer has renamed the restaurant The Greedy Goose
and is planning a slightly more relaxed approach to his predecessors, offering a menu that is all about simple, modern, flavourful food.
There’s good news from West Sussex too, where Tom Sellers, the Michelin-starred chef/patron of Restaurant Story
in London, has acquired the listed Lickfold Inn near Petworth after a concerted effort by the local community to save the pub from four years of dereliction. The newly restored building will be part traditional country boozer serving craft beers, local ales and bar snacks (Scotch eggs, pork pies, charcuterie etc), and part 36-seater dining room, offering a modern British menu incorporating ingredients from local suppliers. Heading the kitchen will be Graham Squire, a protégé of Adam Byatt at Clapham favourites Trinity
and Bistro Union
And in an unexpected move, Matt Weedon (who previously held a Michelin star at the Lords of the Manor
in Gloucestershire) has left his role as head chef at Fallowfields
hotel in Oxfordshire to take over the tenancy of The Lamb Inn
at Crawley (near Witney), which he plans to open later this month.
Written by Molly Monroe