Like Beyoncé, restaurants move in formation, and the new openings in 2024 are no different.
When the Rouxs taught England that food was more than just meat and two veg in the Sixties with Le Gavroche, Michelin started to pay attention. When the late and great Russell Norman started serving small plates, everyone scrapped three-course menus and followed suit, not to everyone’s taste, mind you. When some of the biggest restaurant groups started to collapse only to renovate, rebrand and rise from the ashes, retired restaurateurs started plotting.
The year 2024 might see a restaurant rebirth if Jeremy King’s return to the scene in the coming months is anything to go by, not long after Jamie Oliver bravely put his reputation back on the line with a new opening in Covent Garden earlier this year (spoiler: I hated it).
However, I have high hopes for the second chances the new year might bring to dining in the UK. Much of it is in the capital, naturally, with three highly anticipated openings from the aforementioned comeback King, a second site from sushi master Endo Kazutoshi that will probably be even more luxurious (and eye-wateringly expensive) than the first, and the reopening of beloved A-list haunt Julie’s under new management.
The Singaporean chef Ellen Chew (what an excellent name for a chef) deserves another run at Singapulah, and we’ll gladly welcome Claude Bosi’s return to his Lyonnaise roots after a fairly tepid year.
There’s also new, or rather globally famous but obscure only through ignorance in the UK, kids on the block like Akira Black, helming the pass at the upcoming Mandarin Oriental in Mayfair.
Things are arguably more exciting outside of London, as they often are. Any opening from a Simon Rogan alumnus is something to talk about and, having dined at his chef’s table earlier this year, I’m excited about Tom Barnes’ debut in Manchester.
Two big pub names are branching out, The Devonshire’s Ashley Palmer-Watts’ multi-venue offering in Somerset, and The Culpeper founder Sandy Jarvis’ new neighbourhood bistro in Leeds. Their originals are a joy to eat at and I have no doubt these will be too.
The season-led, no-menu get what you’re given Osip is also upscaling: the new site is just five minutes down the road but will build on everything that made the first one shine.
South Africa comes to Birmingham via wife duo Ash and Erin Valenzuela-Heeger after a successful pop-up over the summer, and the first female winner of Young National Chef of the Year Ruth Hansom is finally getting her moment in the sun, with a modern British restaurant in Yorkshire.
Needless to say, it’s been a hard few years for restaurants, with some of the biggest names disappearing and newcomers barely making a dent. Food writers, too, have found themselves fatigued. Perhaps, then, a return to our roots, to go back to the drawing board, to what used to make eating out so exciting, to find a new way to survive in a vastly different world, is just what hospitality in 2024 needs.
These are the places where I’ll be booking a table as soon as they’re open, and I suggest you do too.
Arlington, The Park and Simpson’s on the Strand
Is 2024 the year of the comeback King? Ahem, I mean veteran restaurateur Jeremy King, who announced his surprise return to the London restaurant scene with not one, but three openings in the new year. The first will be Arlington, in the former site of Le Caprice, the restaurant that launched his career and closed in the pandemic after 38 years of service, and round the corner from his flagship at The Wolseley, which he lost in 2022 after an unceremonious bitter boardroom battle. He’ll then open The Park, opposite Kensington Gardens, in April, and reopen the historic Simpson’s on the Strand, which closed in the first lockdown. One might say he’s putting his reputation on the line (inspired by Jamie Oliver, perhaps) but given few restaurateurs have had greater influence over high-end dining in London than King, a rebirth might be just what hospitality in 2024 needs.
Endo Kazutoshi at the OWO
There’s not much that can be said about third-generation sushi master Endo Kazutoshi’s secretive new opening at the OWO, the new and exclusive Raffles hotel in the Old War Office. We don’t even know the name. But, given his flagship omakase restaurant Endo at The Rotunda in White City is one of London’s most exclusive dining rooms, the success of the Creative Restaurant Group’s projects (of which he is chef-patron), and the lavish renovation of historic landmark the Old War Office, we might expect something special. What we do know is there’ll be a 60-cover rooftop dining room and al fresco terrace with some pretty spectacular views, a chef’s table tucked away in one of the turrets and a ground-floor sake bar. Kanpai!
Mandarin Oriental Mayfair and Akira Back
Akira Back’s arrival in London should be a big deal, even if you haven’t heard of him. Born in Korea and raised in Aspen, he’s best known for his eponymous chain of Japanese restaurants around the world, and earning a Michelin star at his restaurant Dosa in Seoul. He’s bringing both of these to the upcoming Mandarin Oriental hotel in Mayfair, as well as a bar and a “rooftop experience”. Akira Back will showcase some of his best-known dishes, as well as British twists such as a wagyu tempura Wellington. Dosa is billed as a 14-seat chef’s table experience mixing contemporary Korean dishes with French techniques. The ABar lounge will serve bite-size snacks, cocktails and tea, and the ABar Rooftop will offer views over Hanover Square.
Claude Bosi is on a roll. This year saw the opening of Socca with Samyukta Nair, which wooed with its concept but was downgraded by critics to “perfectly pleasant” and not much else, and the glamorous rooftop restaurant Brooklands at the Peninsula, London’s first billion-pound hotel. His 2024, and far more interesting, project is Josephine, a Lyonnaise bouchon, in Fulham, which he’ll be running with his wife Lucy. The prospect of the chef returning to his Lyonnaise roots is an exciting one. So, too, is the Bouchon-style metre wine, so you only pay for what you drink.
After a one-and-a-half-year hiatus, A-list haunt Julie’s will reopen under new ownership. In the Eighties and Nineties, the west London restaurant and champagne bar’s regulars included Tom Cruise, Naomi Campbell, Princess Diana and Annie Lennox. Kate Moss had her 17th birthday there and there were still heel marks on a table danced on by Tina Turner. Unlike most restaurants these days it seems, it closed under perfectly normal circumstances: its previous owners Timothy and Cathy Herring simply retired. Tara MacBain, a former local regular and Cordon Bleu-trained chef, is the new custodian and hopes to “reimagine this iconic restaurant, one that is so close to my heart” as a modern French brasserie. There’ll be an all-day dining menu with seafood towers and oysters, a theatrical martini trolley and a wine list that will appeal to London’s snobby oenophiles. Whether the G-spot, the most famous table, G3, which was curtained off, will make a return is as yet unknown.
The Singaporean restaurateur Ellen Chew is having another crack at her restaurant Singapulah, which she opened a few years ago as a cafe by day (known as Arôme and now with two locations) and a restaurant by night. Singapulah didn’t take off but the scene has changed considerably since then. The new Singapulah will be a “completely fresh concept” compared to the failed pop-up, paying homage to the diverse culinary landscape of Singapore. There’ll also be a shop, a Singaporean Eataly if you will, offering all the myriad ingredients that make the cuisine shine. That she’s sponsored by the Singaporean government agency Enterprise Singapore, the Singapore Brand Office and the Singapore Tourism Board in this new venture should be all the endorsement you need.
Any opening from a Simon Rogan alumnus is exciting news. Tom Barnes’ Skof, “an unpretentious yet ambitious dining experience” will open in Manchester in the spring, bringing a Michelin bait restaurant to a burgeoning food-centric city. Having been head chef at Rogan & Co when it earned its star, and executive chef at L’Enclume when it gained its third, not to mention winning the Roux Scholarship in 2014, Barnes already has plenty of star-studded credentials to his name. Skof is his first solo venture, though it will still form part of Rogan’s Umbel Restaurant group and work with suppliers from Rogan’s farm. It’s a partnership that’s worked well for other alumni like Dan Cox down in Cornwall. Seasonality and local ingredients will obviously take centre stage, and no doubt a smidgen of wow factor.
The Garden, Cobham
If you haven’t heard of Ashley Palmer-Watts this year, then presumably you’ve been living under a rock. He’s one-third of the founders behind the new (and arguably best) pub in London, The Devonshire, alongside landlord extraordinaire Oisin Rogers and Flat Iron’s Charlie Carroll. Haven’t been? Go. But also mark a date in your calendar to get to Palmer-Watts’ The Garden Cobham, opening in the spring. Drawing on all his experience of opening restaurants at various levels within the Fat Duck group, The Garden will be a multi-venue project, with a high-end restaurant, terrace, wine bar, cafe and bakery, all set within a two-acred walled garden. There are also plans for private accommodation, so you can binge and booze and then toddle off to bed.
Osip 2.0, Somerset
Given that the original Osip from Merlin Labron-Johnson earned a Michelin star only eight months after opening, a green star a year later, and ranked at no 24 in the National Restaurant Awards, there are high hopes for Osip 2.0. Rebirths seem to be a trend. Moving closer to the farm they built to supply the restaurant during a difficult lockdown, the new site is larger and more rural, making space for more rooms, a bigger wine cellar (and more extensive wine list) and an on-site nursery garden. Labron-Johnson will continue the trademark table d’hote style (no menus, chef’s choice) that made Osip famous, combining the highest standards of modern gastronomy with the tradition of local gastronomy. It’s sure to be a hit.
Hansom, Bedale, North Yorkshire
Ruth Hansom, who spent five years cooking at The Ritz before she became the first woman to win Young National Chef of the Year in 2017, not to mention a MasterChef win to boot, is opening a modern British restaurant in foodie Yorkshire that will be an “epicurean adventure of luxury and provenance”. A standalone eponymous restaurant is finally in the works for the talented chef after her plans for Epoch, which secured £750,000 in funding from BBC’s My Million Pound Menu didn’t come to fruition. The young chef has spent years developing her ultra-seasonal, provenance-driven style of cooking, and Yorkshire, arguably one of the best places to eat in the country, is the perfect setting.
Riverine Rabbit, Birmingham
From Cape Town to Birmingham comes wife duo Ash and Erin Valenzuela-Heeger’s Riverine Rabbit after a successful pop-up over the summer. With a focus on wild game and seafood and a substantial plant-based offering, Riverine Rabbit will combine South African influences from Ash’s childhood with seasonal British produce and a bit of sustainable farming practices thrown in. Not particularly known for its dining scene, Birmingham is in for a treat with dishes such as crab muffins and honey-cured beef, and a predominantly South African wine list.
Another pub heavyweight set to open up shop outside of London is The Culpeper’s Sandy Jarvis, alongside sommelier husband Clément Cousin. They’ll be launching neighbourhood bistro Bavette in Leeds in February, with a season-led menu featuring dishes like pork belly rillons, halibut and Paris-Brest, a hark back to Jarvis’ time spent in kitchens such as Racine and Terroirs. Meanwhile, Cousin will take on the roles of manager and sommelier, drawing on his experience direct from the Loire and his time at Robin Gill’s The Dairy and Simon Rogan’s Fera at Claridge’s, providing wines from his family’s vineyard and notable low intervention bottles from across Europe. If the couple’s success in the industry is anything to go by, this will be another hit to add to their collective CV.