Mr Ji, Soho
Taiwanese-inspired Mr Ji has reopened with a fresh new look. Working closely with friends Ana Gonçalves and Zijun Meng of Tātā Eatery and Tóu on the redesign and menu development, founder Samuel Haim has transformed Mr Ji from a grab-and-go spot to a buzzy space with table service. Taking cues from Taiwanese canteens for the daytime and late-night bars for the evening, Mr Ji now offers a more refined, expanded menu that’s still centred around the chicken dishes for which it is known, as well as a fresh cocktail menu. Guests can kick off with fried panko-crusted chicken hearts with sweet curry sauce and lettuce cups; or ‘Prawn ‘In’ Toast’ – a toasted brioche ‘box’ filled with prawns in a bechamel sauce with sweetcorn and parmesan). Follow up with more substantial dishes such as ‘The O’Ji’ – a deep-fried chicken breast with mustard pickle mayo. On the drinks front, we recommend the ‘Salted Plum Negroni’, made with Japanese umeshu, vermouth, bitters and tequila; or the ‘Rice Martini’, a mix of Cuban rum, manzanilla, glutinous rice syrup, maraschino and lime essence.
72 Old Compton Street, Soho, W1D 4UN; open now
Kol, the debut restaurant from Mexican chef Santiago Lastra, has had a couple of false starts over the last year. But now it’s ready to open properly. And this time, there’s a basement bar too – Kol Mezcaleria. Santiago and the team will be serving authentic Mexican food across the 56-cover dining room and intimate chef’s table. Expect to try the likes of langoustine tacos with smoked chilli and sea buckthorn; kohlrabi with pink mole, pumpkin agua chile and smoked beetroot; confit pork cheek carnitas with cabbage leaves, gooseberry, pear salsa and black beans, as well as Kentish oaxaca cheese, butternut squash and wild mushroom quesadilla. Headed up by bar manager Maxim Schulte (formerly of The Savoy’s American Bar), the downstairs mezcaleria seats 26 and will house one of Europe’s most extensive selections of Mexican and agave spirits, offering more than 80 varieties of tequila and mezcal sourced from small-scale and independent distillers. Maxim’s cocktail menu makes use of both Mexican and British ingredients, and takes a culinary approach. The drinks go hand in hand with Santiago’s ‘antojitos’ – street food-style snacks inspired by delicacies found in the country’s indigenous communities. We can’t wait to visit.
9 Seymour Street, Marylebone, W1H 7BA; from 19th May
Humble Chicken, Soho
Angelo Sato is set to launch an intimate yakitori bar, Humble Chicken, this week. Having worked in various Tokyo restaurants from the age of 14, Sato moved to London at 17 hoping to work for Gordon Ramsay. He turned up at his Chelsea restaurant and convinced then-head chef Clare Smyth to give him a job. He has since worked at Adam Byatt’s Trinity, Eleven Madison Park in New York and Restaurant Story. Influenced by his Japanese heritage, Sato has created a ‘comb to tail’ cooking experience, making use of every part of the bird, from cartilage and achilles to gizzards and knee. The skewers will be cooked over bincho-tan charcoal on a traditional Japanese grill imported from Kappabashi in Tokyo, while sauces such as tare and ‘burnt fat’ will further enhance the flavours. Elsewhere, miso foie gras with black sesame, pine nuts and rice crackers, and crispy chicken feet are designed to be enjoyed with a cocktail. Larger plates offer chicken alternatives such as hakata pork belly with braised daikon, yolk and mustard. Sake cocktails and whisky highballs will round off the menu.
54 Frith Street, Soho, W1D 4SJ; 20th May
Pasta Evangelists at Harrods, Knightsbridge
One of the UK’s favourite lockdown treats, Pasta Evangelists has now opened its first ever restaurant – in Harrods, no less. It will offer a modern Italian menu exclusive to the department store. Guests can start with a selection of antipasti, such as tagliere (a selection of cured meats, parmigiano reggiano, pecorino sardo and smoked ricotta), grissini breadsticks and focaccia. Main courses will showcase regional pasta delicacies from across Italy with specials including lasagne cupcake with a British asparagus and parmesan cream; and lobster tortelloni with a lobster and vine tomato butter and sautéed artichokes. And to finish off the meal, there’ll be the likes of tiramisù and strawberry crumble provided by the Harrods pastry department.
87-135 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge, SW1X 7XL; open now
NoMad Restaurant, Covent Garden
NoMad London is the first international property for the New York hotel brand. The London site has taken over Grade II-listed Bow Street Magistrates’ Court and Police Station in Covent Garden. As at every NoMad property – three-Michelin-starred Eleven Madison Park is based at the NYC site – food will play a key role. The London restaurant occupies a soaring three-story atrium. During the day, the space is filled with natural light; in the evening, it will transform into something more intimate. While the menu focuses on seasonal dishes, the focus of the main dining room will be a wood-burning grill. Look out for signature dishes such as the stuffed chicken for two and the team’s seafood. Also inside the hotel, you’ll find Side Hustle – NoMad’s take on the classic British pub – which will serve Mexican sharing plates and a large selection of agave-based spirits and cocktails.
28 Bow Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 7AW; from 25th May
The founders of Marylebone’s Opso and two-Michelin-starred Athens restaurant Funky Gourmet are just about ready to launch Ino. The menu will centre around a Greek ‘psistaria’ grill and is inspired by the dining culture of classic tavernas. The kitchen will use ingredients from prominent farms across the UK and directly from Greece. Small plates on offer will include charcoaled prime short rib chops, house-cured mackerel, catch-of-the-day carpaccio and sardine sashimi. Meanwhile, the bar will showcase some of the country’s most exciting producers through its strictly Greek wine list. These will all be available by the glass, encouraging diners to try something new. On a cosy site in Soho, the restaurant is set across two levels, and features an open kitchen, where guests will be able to sit along the full-length bar and watch the chefs at work. A terrace will see guests spill out onto the pedestrianised street for al fresco dining during the warmer months.
4 Newburgh Street, Soho, W1F 7RF; from 24th May
Harrods Social, Knightsbridge
Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton’s newest restaurant will serve British cuisine in a relaxed yet elegant setting within the famed department store. The 114-seat restaurant will showcase British produce and seasonal ingredients, with a menu that includes Cumbrian beef tartare, Devon crab, Wye Valley asparagus salad and Cumbrian chicken with black truffle. Alongside this is a selection of wine, ‘Flying Pig’ cocktails and speciality coffees, as well as an indulgent dessert menu which features Tahitian vanilla crème brûlée, Valrhona chocolate tart, and olive oil sponge with Amalfi lemon curd, nougatine and yoghurt sorbet. Part of Harrods’ striking dining hall concept, Atherton’s new spot fits right in with its detailed marble cornerstones, atmospheric illuminated brass signage and textured leather upholstery.
87-135 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge, SW1X 7XL; open now
Cin Cin Bar & Kitchen, Fitzrovia
Cin Cin has brought its award-winning seasonal Italian food to Fitzrovia. This is the third restaurant from the group: Cin Cin first opened its doors in Brighton’s North Laine in 2016, winning a Michelin Bib Gourmand in 2018. A second site followed in Hove in 2018 and was awarded an AA Rosette last year. The new spot offers a seasonal menu of inventive Italian dishes and drinks served in a relaxed 20-seat dining room and south-facing terrace. Diners can expect to sample the likes of roasted garlic and lardo flatbread; burrata with grilled baby leeks, toasted almond and preserved lemon; and crab arancino with warm basil emulsion to start, while main courses include brill with spring cabbage and brown butter; handmade farfalle with peas, mortadella and tropea onion; and ravioli of truffled potato with asparagus and confit yolk. The bar will be on hand to serve a wide range of carefully chosen Italian wines, as well as beers, digestivi and a selection of aperitivi. Having visited the Brighton original many times, we highly recommend the ‘Cherry Martinez’ – a heady mix of Maraschino cherry liqueur, Luxardo sour cherry gin and 1757 Torino vermouth.
21a Foley Street, Fitzrovia, W1W 6DS; open now
Last summer, the team behind Patty & Bun launched a new concept: Sidechick. Then it was a delivery service; now it’s a restaurant. Focused on roast chicken, head chef Luke Frankie has drawn on his past experience in charge of the kitchen at top pub The Drapers Arms to create a small and simple menu focusing on quality, seasonality and flavour. Highlights include za’atar roast chicken with garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and honey; and flatbreads with confit onion, anchovies, olives and thyme. The drinks list also champions produce from small suppliers, showcasing a neat selection of natural and biodynamic wines, along with a cocktail list with signature serves such as ‘Better with Sage’ (gin, sage, honey syrup and lemon juice). Designed by Day Studio, who worked on award-winning restaurants Padella and Trullo, the venue is split over two floors, and features an open kitchen, terracotta tiling and polished walnut wall panelling.
56 James Street, Marylebone, W1U 1H; open now
Turul Project, Turnpike Lane
Turul Project is a Hungarian restaurant, wine bar and deli launching over the next month. Focusing on premium ingredients and wines sourced directly from Hungary, the venue will serve a concise fine-dining menu, inspired by traditional dishes. Situated in a bright art deco building in north London, this is Turul Project’s first permanent home, it having started out as a pop-up and series of supper clubs in 2018. When it launches fully next month, the restaurant will be led by Levente Koppány, who hails from Budapest and won last year’s San Pellegrino ‘Young Chef for the Central Europe Region’. On the menu, expect the likes of goose liver, with brioche, granny smith and cabbage; monkfish ‘Paprikas’ with pasta, curd cheese and sour cream; and hare with bread dumplings and carrots. The wine bar, which launched this week, offers a huge selection of Hungarian wines by the glass and bottle, alongside bar snacks, charcuterie and cheese boards. A great place, we suspect, to try something new.
1 Turnpike Parade, Green Lanes, Turnpike Lane, N15 3LA
From the team behind Notting Hill’s Uli, comes Huŏ. Showcasing Asian food, restaurateur Michael Lim has pulled together a menu of carefully selected dishes from around China and south east Asia, all prepared using traditional Chinese, Thai, Malay and Singaporean techniques. Highlights include triple-cooked dover sole with asparagus garlic and chilli; and stir-fried beef fillet with spicy black pepper sauce. The architect-designed restaurant features bleached timber banquettes and flooring, and a white timber raft ceiling, dotted with tropical plants and modern Asian art. As well as the restaurant, the venue will have a separate bar area where guests can choose from a selection of unusual Japanese whiskies, vodkas and craft beer. We like the sound of the Asian Negroni, made with gin, Campari, vermouth and sake. In warmer months, the restaurant's front will be fully opened and tables will be set up on the terrace.
9 Park Walk, Chelsea, SW10 0AJ; 1st June
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