Oct 20, 2015

What’s on the menu – Restaurant news roundup October

Rise of the restaurants

A survey of the dining out industry has revealed that there has been a rise of almost 7% when it comes to the opening of new restaurants in the UK, compared to last year. To be precise, a net 1170 have opened in the last 12 months, both in and out of central London. There are more restaurants with licenses in the country now than there are drink-led pubs or bars. Chains are particularly on the rise in this category. The general consensus is that this all comes down to demand and lower rent on dining space.

3 is the magic number

Three British restaurants have been listed in TripAdvisor’s top 10 best fine-dining restaurants in the world. The 2015 TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice awards has named Adam’s in Birmingham, run by Adam and Natasha Stokes; Restaurant Sat Bains, run by the Nottingham-based chef; and Raymond Blanc’s Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire, at fourth, fifth, and ninth places in the world respectively. Notably, Adams is re-locating after the Christmas/New Year’s rush and will re-open in 2016, this time with a private dining room as well. Each of the other restaurants already have this facility.

Into the woods

An exciting new dining concept is coming to Selfridges department store, London. Des McDonald Restaurants is to open Forest Restaurant & Cabin Bar, its latest “on the roof” residency in the capital. It is scheduled to open this coming week, for the duration of autumn and winter, and has been apparently inspired by English forest and woodland. The menu will be influenced by foraging trends and include hotpots, grilled meats and fish, and seasonal vegetable dishes. As with previous “on the roof” concepts, the site will be accessible from the express lift on the ground floor in Selfridge’s Fragrance Hall, but will also be accessed via a landscaped staircase on the fourth floor. Dishes will be along the lines of Windsor Estate mallard on toast with a mulled cider vinaigrette; pumpkin and goat’s cheese tart; juniper gin-cured salmon with pickled cucumber; baked game meatballs; Wild Highland roe deer fillet with kale and an elderberry sauce; and duck shepherd’s pie with autumn squash. It’s Autumn in a dish!


When you think private dining, you typically conjure up images of elite and expensive fine dining restaurants, featuring exclusive secret dining areas tucked away for closed-off parties. While this is true in some cases, it’s possible to enjoy this experience in chain restaurants too, such as Prezzo – which is to open another 11 restaurants in the run-up to the New Year. Texas private equity firm TPG Capital bought Prezzo at the start of this year, with co-founder Jonathan Kaye stepping down to a non-executive role in June this year. The new sites in Farnborough, Blackpool, Wickford, Staines, Newport, Redditch, Yate, Bridgnorth, Abergavenny, Tewkesbury and Malvern will take the total number of restaurants under the Prezzo brand to 230.

Smashing it

Food blogger Sam Butler from Belfast has written off his Jaguar (worth 70k) when he lost control of it and drove it through the window of Graze restaurant in Ballyhackamore. The event took place just before lunch service and has caused immense structural damage.

Soho House-ing project

The Soho House brand is to expand. It has sold a 50% stake in its restaurant business to a private partner. Best known for its various private members and private dining areas across the globe, it also runs brands Pizza East, Dirty Burger and Chicken Shop, which are thought to be at the top of the expansion plans in the new merger.

Vegetarians not welcome

Hedone has decided to stop pandering to the “awkward” needs of vegetarians, vegans and the like. Mikael Jonsson is shaking things up this month by altering menus, number of covers and ignoring the requirements of those with particular food choices. He insists that it will allow his kitchen to be more free, elaborate and inventive, without restrictions. While controversial to some, he retains that it’s his kitchen, his rules.

Shakespeare burger

Byron is to open a new site in Stratford-upon-Avon as part of its expansion across the UK. The new 3,860 sq ft site will be part of the town’s £30m Bell Court redevelopment, and has been signed as a 20-year lease. Founded by Tom Byng in 2007, Byron now operates 55 restaurants across the UK, including 37 in London. It has various sites in shopping centre-style complexes, including Intu Derby, Bluewater in Kent, and Highcross in Leicester. Commenting on the new Stratford plans, Byng said: “Bell Court in Stratford is a perfect fit for Byron. We are confident that local people and visitors to this lovely, historic town will appreciate our obsession with doing things properly and our commitment to raising expectations around customer service.”

Ivy Café ready to climb

Notorious celeb haunt and private dining venue The Ivy is opening its spin off Ivy Café at the start of November. The new venue, which will be in the space previously occupied by the Union Café, will offer breakfast, elevenses, brunch, lunch, afternoon snacks, cream tea and dinner, with menus created by executive chef Sean Burbidge. The Martin Brudnizki Design Studio interiors will feature a brass top bar, pendant lighting, marble floor tiles and red leather banquettes, creating a more casual, all-day dining environment. Some 50% of the tables will be held back for walk-ins at the 94-cover venue, which is run by general manager Thasanee Robinson.