After the expected summer lull, autumn is proving to be particularly strong for new restaurant openings outside London. The restaurant and bar scene in our provincial cities and towns is booming, thanks to the influx of younger people with more disposable income who have given dining and bar venues an unprecedented boost.
Of the well-known chefs to announce plans to open new restaurants in the coming months the pick includes Rick Stein, whose 70-cover seafood restaurant in Winchester (to be called Rick Stein) will be his first opening outside Cornwall, and Tom Kerridge, who plans to open a second Marlow pub, the Coach (formerly the Coach and Horses), in the same street as his acclaimed Hand and Flowers. In addition, those Michelin-starred brothers Jonray and Peter Sanchez Iglesias of Bristol’s Casamia are pushing ahead with a second restaurant. Pi Shop, in Portishead, will be an all-day eatery serving wood-fired sourdough pizzas. And in Lincolnshire, Colin McGurran, chef/patron of Winteringham Fields, is currently redeveloping the Hope and Anchor in nearby South Ferriby – the pub will specialise in steaks. Watch this space for further news.
In north Norfolk, Iain and Clair Wilson have just opened the Dial House in the former Old Brewery House, a Grade-II listed 18th-century building in Reepham’s Market Square. It is an all-day 60-cover restaurant, with plenty of outdoor seating spread over garden and terrace, dealing in locally sourced, British-style food. The Wilsons already operate several venues in the area, including a traditional pub, the Pigs at Edgefield, and Byfords in Holt, a café-deli-cum-posh-B&B.
In the south-west, Berwick Lodge is the only Bristol hotel with five gold AA stars for accommodation. Now the hotel is looking to make its restaurant a culinary destination. Hattutsa, which opens in October, is named after the capital of the Hittite empire in the late Bronze Age and is headed by Paul O'Neill – winner of the Roux Scholarship during its 30th anniversary year in 2013. His menu offers modern British cooking with an East-meets-West twist.
In other news, Steve Barringer, a 2011 finalist on BBC TV’s MasterChef: The Professionals, has returned as head chef to Flitwick Manor, the 18-bedroomed hotel near Woburn in Bedfordshire where he began his career as a pot washer. And Alan Murchison has announced his resignation from l’Ortolan, the Shinfield restaurant he reopened in 2001 and retained a Michelin star since 2003. He feels it is a good time to take a break from the kitchen but will remain at L’Ortolan until a new executive chef is appointed, which is expected to be by the end of the year.