Hot concepts - get out and see
20 February, 2013
Peach Report’s latest guide to some of the newest casual concepts that are most worth a visit - from Balthazar to street food to hot pizza concepts to bring-your-own.
The hottest table in town right now is undoubtedly Balthazar, Keith McNally’s London version of his legendary New York restaurant. On the corner of Russell Street and Wellington Street in Covent Garden, it has a similar interior and vibe to the original, and boasts the same immaculate service and flexibility of eating, from breakfast to dinner and everything in between. Early reports from the likes of the Standard’s Fay Maschler have been positive, and Balthazar could well set the new standards for top-end dining with an unstuffy and casual approach.
See the Balthazar website.
Another restaurateur with a pretty faultless track record is Alan Yau, whose new Thai concept Naamyaa has been bedding down on St John Street in Islington. Modelled on modern Bangkok cafes, it is another new place offering the kind of flexibility in eating that is increasingly essential in the capital, with doors open from 9am to 11pm. Its menu has seemed eclectic to some, taking in burgers, hot dogs and small plates as well as traditional Thai dishes, but that should only enhance its inclusive, adaptable appeal.
See the Naamyaa website.
After the renaissance of the burger last year, pizza could be the humble dish to get a hip makeover in 2013. Among the most talked about establishments in London at the moment are Naples-inspired Pizza Pilgrims (pictured), serving from an oven in the back of a Piaggio van in Berwick Street market, but soon to move into a bricks and mortar site, and Homeslice Pizza, another mobile operator but due to move into Neal’s Year in late March. PizzaMetroPizza meanwhile serves up wood–fired pizzas in Battersea and Notting Hill, boasting the longest pizzas in London.
See the Pizza Pilgrims, Homeslice Pizza and PizzaMetroPizza websites.
Another mobile concept turning sort-of-permanent is Yum Bun, long acclaimed on the street food scene for its soft steamed, pulled pork buns. It opens as part of the new Rotary Bar and Diner on City Road on 1 March and is scheduled to stay until at least the end of the year—and probably longer if it proves successful.
See the Yum Bun website.
For a look at some of the top street food operators in the capital at the moment, head to Tobacco Dock in Wapping between 7 and 10 March for the latest Feast gathering. Names from the street food and bricks-and-mortar sectors already confirmed include Dishoom, Patty and Bun, Caravan, Wright Brothers, Meringue Girls, Disco Bistro, Pizza Pilgrims, Roti Chai and Big Apple Hot Dogs.
See the Feast website.
Well-received by several in the trade has been the Buddha-Bar in Knightsbridge. Following the original in Paris, it has plenty of glamour and a pan-Asian restaurant for lunch and dinner as well as a late-night bar.
See the Buddha Bar website.
Mixing on-trend cocktails and Caribbean food, well overdue a higher profile, The Rum Kitchen on All Saints Road near Ladbroke Grove, is well worth a visit. Its bright, beach shack-style atmosphere and service are in tune with its Caribbean theme, and its cellar holds more than 100 varieties of rum.
See The Rum Kitchen website.
Continuing Shoreditch’s inexorable rise as a major London foodie hotspot, The Clove Club relaunches soon as the latest incarnation of the well-received Young Turks. It opens in Shoreditch Town Hall on 4 March.
See The Clove Club website.
An interesting new cross-cuisine concept is Sushinho, the second branch of which has just opened on Devonshire Square in the City to join the original on King’s Road. Its mix of Japanese and Brazilian ideas is not as odd as it might appear, since Sao Paulo has the biggest Japanese population anywhere beyond Japan itself. Both Japanese and Brazilian food are as big as they ever have been right now, so the concept probably has further to run.
See the Sushinho website.
An intriguing riff on the bring-your-own concept, the new BYOC (Bring Your Own Cocktails) concept on Bedfordbury Street in Covent Garden is well worth a look. The idea is that drinkers bring along a bottle or two of spirits or wine, and engage the services of a roving drinks expert to use it as a base for a cocktail. It’s priced at £20 for a two-hour table slot, to include the server’s time and expertise and cocktail mixers as required. It’s being presented as a modern speakeasy, with word intended to spread among those in the know—though a thoroughly modern PR agency is helping too.
See the BYOC website.
Hawksmoor is now well known to most, but its still new restaurant on Air Street near Piccadilly is well worth a visit, if only to try its new focus on seafood. With nearly 250 covers it is also the biggest of Hawksmoor’s four sites and an example of how to run a large-scale, slick operation in the ultra-competitive middle of the capital.
See the Hawksmoor website.