Hot concepts—the back catalogue 7
19 September, 2012
Peach Report’s guide to ten of the casual concepts that are most worth a visit at the moment—including high-rise launches at Heron Tower, Jamie’s latest brand extension, a cook-your-own concept and an intriguing fusion of ping-pong and cocktails
The high points of recent London restaurant openings, in the literal sense at least, have been the SushiSamba and Duck & Waffle concepts at the top of the Heron Tower on Bishopsgate. As its name suggests, the SushiSamba venue is a fusion of Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian food, joining several sister sites in the US, while Duck & Waffle has an all-day menu. Considering the stunning location, both restaurants are surprisingly midmarket in their menus and pricing, continuing the trend away from formality in the City towards more casual dining.
See the SushiSamba and Duck & Waffle websites.
Very close by to Heron Tower is the Old Bengal Warehouse (pictured), the new launch from D&D London. With more than 10,000 square feet of bar, restaurant and retail space, it is one of its most ambitious recent openings, with a steak-focused New Street Grill, Fish Market restaurant, cocktail bar and wine shop. It is a good example of how operators can turn large spaces to multiple purposes.
See the Old Bengal Warehouse website.
The Jamie Oliver bandwagon rolls relentlessly on, but his most interesting recent extension to his empire is the Deli@Jamie’s Italian concept in Bath, sitting alongside a branch of his restaurant. Open from 8am to 9pm from Mondays to Saturdays, it sells pastries, sandwiches and boxed meals, plus tea and cake and wine. It is situated on Milsom Place hard by a branch of Carluccio’s among others, setting up something of a battle of the delis in the city.
See the Deli @ Jamie’s Italian website.
Taking the popularity of cookery schools to its natural conclusion with an interesting new cook-your-own-dinner concept is Aveqia in Farringdon. The Swedish operation has an ‘active cooking’ mantra and is mostly pitched at corporate team-bonding and client entertainment occasions, but it could point up an interesting new opportunity for all operators wanting to interact more with customers.
See the Aveqia website.
The latest arrival in the increasingly crowded Mexican space is Death by Burrito, billed as a contemporary grill and tequila-based cocktail bar. It’s also the latest addition to the collection of operators in the ever-more-trendy district of Shoreditch, having set up home at the Catch Bar on Kingsland Road. The brainchild of the Rebel Dining Society conceptual collective, it is open from Wednesday to Saturday evenings only and there’s space for only 30 diners. Also worth checking out Mexican-wise is Wahaca’s latest opening on Charlotte Street, which promises the UK’s first mezcalareia bar and other departures including breakfasts, takeaways and delis. It looks to be a move upmarket for the chain as it tries to set itself apart from the host of new Mexican arrivals.
See the Death by Burrito and Wahaca websites.
In the café sector, the most intriguing recent arrival is Harris + Hoole, a coffee shop format devised by backed by independent and upmarket coffee shop operator Taylor St but backed by supermarket giant Tesco. It has sites in the commuter belt in Uxbridge and Amersham, with another to follow in Ruislip soon. Tesco is remaining quite coy about its involvement, with the emphasis firmly on the Harris + Hoole branding—perhaps wise given the much-publicised opposition to some recent Costa Coffee openings. It’s worth a visit to see how a big brand can get a grip on the independent space too.
See the Harris + Hoole website.
As the trends for burgers and simplicity of offering continue, Bubbledogs on Charlotte Street combines both in its hot dog-and-champagne concept. There are more than a dozen choices of hot dogs, in a choice of beef, pork and vegetarian, and a similar number of champagnes. Early reviews have been good, perhaps helping to convince people that the combination is not as odd as they might think.
See the Bubbledogs website.
On a similar bent is Burgers & Cocktails by Giraffe, the latest brand extension from the casual dining operator. Its range of burgers are keenly priced from £4.95 up, and there are 14 different cocktails, sold at 50% off between 5.30pm and 7pm every day. Hot dogs and US-style appetisers are other key parts of the offer, and the concept is wrapped up in a diner-style interior. The new branch at the Xscape development in Castleford follows an original on James Street in London, and more seem likely to follow if it proves successful. It continues an interesting series of brand extensions for Giraffe, including station, Bar & Grill and Café concepts.
See the Burgers & Cocktails by Giraffe website.
Extending the theme of combo-fusion concepts is Bounce, an eye-catching new venture promising to combine the game of ping pong with a cocktail bar. Pool bars have been popular for years, but whether table tennis commands the same appeal in central London remains to be seen. It opens on Holborn on 29 September.
See the Bounce website.
But perhaps the most keenly watched new opening of the next few months will be Colbert, the latest venture from Chris Corbin and Jeremy King of Rex Restaurant Associates. The pair’s latest venture, Brasserie Zedel, has indicated a much more casual approach, with prices competitive despite the grand location, and the new launch on Sloane Square will be well worth a visit when it opens towards the end of September or early October.
See the Rex Restaurant Associates website.