Hurray: at long last, lockdown is lifting in the UK. Which means that from this week in England, we can book an inside table at a restaurant for the first time since last year. Cue dinners with friends without having to plan a menu, impromptu get-togethers and, crucially, no washing up to be done at the end of the night. Of course, you’ll want to return to your much-loved favourite spots, but be sure to make space in your diary over the next few months for some of the most innovative newcomers arriving in the capital. From French fancies in the form of Bar des Prés to Italian idyll Trattoria Brutto – by way of a sexy new ‘wine drinkers’ clubhouse’ and a Mexican basement bar – we’ve rounded up the launches about which we’re most excited.
Bar des Prés
We’ll be first in the queue for reservations when the much-hyped Bar des Prés finally opens its Mayfair doors in late May. Designed by the the team behind the Dover Street Arts Club and helmed by French chef Cyril Lignac, this chic French outfit should be your new Saturday date night go-to. Lignac, who made his name on French TV show Oui Chef and is a household name in Europe, has trained with the likes of Alain Passard and Pierre Hermé and has four always-fully-booked restaurants in Paris. At the new outpost in Mayfair, expect to see scallops with caramelised miso, crunchy crab galette and satay fillet steak on the high-end menu, paired with inventive cocktails made with Yamazaki whisky and tonka beans. Anyone who has trained with Pierre Hermé knows their stuff when it comes to pudding and Lignac doesn’t disappoint: go for his take on French toast, or the vanilla and pecan praline mille-feuille.
Bar des Prés opens Saturday 22 May 2021 at 16 Albermarle Street, London, W1S 4HW
El Pastor Soho
Another hotly anticipated opening taking over a former Hix location, taco experts El Pastor are coming to Soho with their third outpost, following on from two successful openings in Borough Market and King’s Cross. Run by the same people behind Barrafina and Quo Vadis, this sprawling locale will consist of a main restaurant serving up tacos, tostadas and sharing plates like short rib and roasted bone marrow, alongside a really excellent menu of mezcals, tequilas and agave spirits. What makes this site particularly special, however, is the basement: here, you’ll find Mezcaleria El Colmillo, a night club of sorts named after a dance night in Mexico City run by El Pastor’s founders, Sam Hart and Crispin Somerville, in the 1990s. ‘We hope it’ll be a naughty addition to an area that’s already quite historically naughty,’ Somerville recently told The Evening Standard. Here, here!
El Pastor Soho opens 2 June 2021 at 66-70 Brewer St, Soho, London W1F 9UP
Wine afficionados, prepare yourselves for a treat this summer: a new ‘wine drinkers’ clubhouse’ is taking over two railway arches in Haggerston, with a focus on natural and low intervention bottles. Hang out, try and buy drinks, then drop by the restaurant – open to all – run by Seb Myers, formerly of Chiltern Firehouse, which will be serving modern French fare. Pressed for time? Grab something to go from Planque’s on-site store, which will sell food and kitchen equipment. If you like what you see (and we’re prepared to bet you will) you’ll be able to join the private members’ club, which will give you access to in-house, state-of-the-art cellar storage, priority booking for the restaurant and wine events, along with exclusive use of the club lounge and private dining room. Sign us up, and pronto.
Planque opens Summer 2021 at 322-324 Acton Mews, London, E8 4EA
The Blue Boar
We can’t wait to see what Sally Abé has planned for The Blue Boar. You might not think much of a pub situated inside the Conrad London St James, but put your doubts aside – as former head chef of London’s only Michelin-starred pub, The Harwood Arms, Abé is more than up to the challenge of turning this somewhat odd location into a brilliantly British classic. You can look forward to an elevated pub menu that puts a twist on tried-and-tested favourites – think a Coronation chicken scotch egg, pork scratchings with Bramley apple sauce and a burger with celeriac and bone marrow remoulade. And in case you were wondering, plans for a superb Sunday roast are already underway, alongside a curated menu of Bloody Marys.
The Blue Boar is open now at 45 Tothill Street, London, SW1H 9LQ
If you’re a fan of Polpo, you’ll fall in love straight away with Trattoria Brutto, the newest offering from restauranteur Russell Norman. Taking over what was once the Hix Oyster and Chop House in Farringdon, Trattoria Brutto promises the same sort of authentic, Italian brilliance as Polpo, though without the latter’s famous focus on small plates. ‘The menu comes from the heart of Italy, a place of passion and tradition, where flavour is more important than favour, and where you will often hear the expression ‘brutto ma buono’ (ugly but good),’ Norman has said. Conviviality, hospitality, excellent ingredients, simple preparation, honest presentation & good cheer are more important than a slavish adherence to regionality, but it’s fair to say Brutto has a Tuscan accent.’ So far, so enticing – we can’t wait to book this for autumn suppers.
Trattoria Brutto is opening August 2021 at 36-37 Greenhill Rents, Cowcross Street, London, EC1M 6BN