This autumn will see the London debut of South African-born café brand Tashas, which has secured a 4,000sq ft site on Prospect Way at Battersea Power Station for its first foray into a European market. Built on the philosophy of ‘beautiful food served in elegant environments with engaging service’, Tashas was founded by Natasha Sideris (main image) and launched its first restaurant in Johannesburg’s Atholl district in 2005. It has subsequently grown to 15 sites across the country, and also expanded into the UAE with five sites in Dubai and one in Abu Dhabi. The all-day concept taps neatly into the brunch market that has proved particularly lucrative in the capital for the likes of all-day restaurant brand Caravan and antipodean group Daisy Green over the years, with an emphasis on comfort food served in a warm, laid back environment. The menu is expected to be expansive and include signature dishes from Tashas’ South African siblings such as butternut zucchini rosti; lemon chicken; and Texas salad. The space itself will be designed by Sideris and design studio Verhaal, and is billed as an updated version of the group’s original Tashas restaurant, with light and bright interiors featuring work from contemporary South African designers and artisans.
If the exuberance of Richard Caring’s Bacchanalia doesn’t float your boat, then fear not because there’s another high-end Greek restaurant gearing up to take Mayfair by storm. Named after the Greek goddess of earth, Gaia is described as a ‘refined taverna’ serving modern Greek food and was launched as a collaboration between restaurateur Evgeny Kuzin and chef Izu Ani. The restaurant already has outposts in Dubai and Monaco and will be touching down in the capital later this year having acquired a 9,500sq ft, multi-level space in the One Berkeley Square development on Dover Street. Conceptualised by interior design firm Sagrada, Gaia London is set to become the brand’s international flagship, with design elements that symbolize the sun, the mountains, and the sea. The restaurant will house a fish market complete with seafood bar, a cocktail bar and wine room, as well as a private members club. Ani will be charged with developing the menu, which is expected to take its cue from brand’s other restaurants. Dishes to feature on its current menus include a rage of salads and mezze; tuna carpaccio; beluga and Oscietra caviar; grilled fish; and moussaka.
Arguably one of the biggest surprises of overseas brands coming over here is the news that renowned Singapore-based barbecue restaurant Burnt Ends is heading to department store Harrods for its second site. Founded by chef-owner Dave Pynt, the modern barbecue restaurant will join chefs including Bjorn Frantzen, Masayoshi Takayama, Tom Kerridge, and Jason Atherton at the Knightsbridge department store. Its arrival won't be until mid next year, which will presumably give the department store ample time to try and recreate the original Burnt Ends experience, which centres on an open kitchen that features a custom-built four-tonne, dual cavity oven and four elevation grills with dishes cooked over wood. The restaurant is currently ranked at number 65 on the 2023 San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants long list.
Now part of French hotel giant Accor, Paris Society made its UK debut with Louie in 2020. In the Covent Garden site that was once home to L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, the Creole-French restaurant has been well-received but it’s fair to say the pandemic took the wind out of the group’s sails on these shores. Across The Channel and elsewhere in the world it’s a very different story. Specialising in large-yet-oversubscribed venues aimed exclusively at a moneyed and trendy crowd, Paris Society dominates the luxury scene in France and has a growing presence in the Middle East and the US with brands including CoCo, Raspoutine, Gigi and Maison Revka (formerly Maison Russe). The Laurent de Gourcuff-founded group is understood to have secured at least one prime London site for an as-yet unknown concept.
Seven North and HaSalon
Eyal Shani isn’t one for hanging around. The idiosyncratic Israeli chef first arrived in London last summer with the launch of Miznon, his Mediterranean street food brand, in Soho and has since established two other outposts in the capital. They include a second Miznon, in Notting Hill; and Lilienblum in Shoreditch. And if that wasn’t enough, he’s set to bring two more concepts to the city before the end of the year, firmly establishing himself as a major international player in the London restaurant scene. The first is Seven North, which is set to open within the Sircle London hotel on Devonshire Square in Liverpool Street in the coming months. Influenced by Mediterranean, French, German and Italian cuisine, Seven North currently has a single outpost in Vienna and shares an obvious DNA with both Miznon and Lilienblum. And then there’s HaSalon, his fine-dining restaurant brand, which has a flagship site in Tel Aviv and is expected to open in London by the end of the autumn – although a location is yet to be confirmed. In contrast to his other London restaurants, HaSalon is expected to be a much more refined prospect, but one that continues to embody Shani's distinctive culinary creativity. “The HaSalon here will be unbelievable,” Shani told Restaurant late last year. “It’ll be completely different. I’m not trying to copy myself.”
Tao Group Hospitality already has a significant presence within the UK luxury market with Hakkasan and Yauatcha but next month will see the US-owned group bring one of its own restaurant brands to these shores for the first time. The now 80-strong global group has chosen its upmarket Italian format LAVO Ristorante, which currently has a single site in LA. It’s a new addition to the group’s roster having launched early last year on Sunset Strip just across the road from Soho House. Confusingly, LAVO Ristorante is the younger sibling of Tao Group Hospitality’s LAVO in Las Vegas, which is more about the vibes than the food (in the US, the group is probably better known for its nightlife destinations than it is for its restaurants). Set just off Oxford Street within The BoTree hotel, the UK iteration of LAVO Ristorante will serve a menu of coastal Italian cuisine that includes the likes of tagliatelle al limone with marjoram, sweet butter and kaluga caviar; and salt-baked sea bass. It will be the only non-Asian restaurant in the UK for Tao Group Hospitality, which acquired the London-founded Hakkasan group in 2001.
Black Sheep Restaurants
Founded in 2012 by Syed Asim Hussain, Black Sheep Restaurants operates around 35 different concepts in Hong Kong and is set to make its UK debut next year. It is understood that a central London site has been secured for a Q1 or Q2 opening, but the group is being coy about which of its concepts it will export to these shores following a trial of two of its key brands at Carousel earlier this summer. First up was New Punjab Club, which is led by Cinnamon Club and Gymkhana-alumnus Palash Mitra. The concept draws on Mitra’s early years in Bengal and Gujarat offering a menu that includes bhatti anda (tandoori-cooked tamago eggs finished with Devon crab, peas and a dusting of lime); and sarson jingha (cardinal prawns, soft cheese and kasundi mustard made with turmeric, ginger and fresh chillies). Next up was the brilliantly-named Ho Lee Fook (it means good fortune for your mouth, apparently), which offers a contemporary spin on Cantonese cooking in a fun and irreverent setting. Ho Lee Fook is now led by Hong Kong-born chef ArChan Chan whose key dishes include steamed razor clams with glass noodles, aged garlic, soy sauce and spring onion; and French toast with molten salted egg yolk, smoked maple syrup and toasted coconut. Given the intense competition in London’s top-end Indian space, the smart money is on Ho Lee Fook.
The restaurant group behind izakaya-styled Japanese restaurant The Aubrey in the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park in Knightsbridge is looking to bring its Mott 32 Chinese restaurant brand to London. Hong Kong-based Maximal Concepts, whose portfolio also includes BBQ and seafood restaurant Limewood, and Thai bar restaurant format Sip Song, wants to open Mott 32 in the capital following the restaurant’s success in Hong Kong, where it made its debut in 2014, as well as in Vancouver, Las Vegas and Singapore. Speaking to Restaurant late last year, co-founder Matt Reid said the group has been looking at opening in the capital for a number of years and that it had originally intended to open Mott 32 at London’s Mandarin Oriental in the site that The Aubrey now occupies but was unable to because of extraction issues. Mayfair is top of its hit list but central London is also a target. “I think Marylebone is interesting,” said Reid. “I still like Soho. Our problem is we need 8,000sq ft, and there’s nothing that size in Soho. I’d like somewhere that was a little bit more central but doesn’t have to be crazy pricing. “
Milanese restaurant Paper Moon will open its first London outpost at The OWO in London's Whitehall in the autumn. Paper Moon launched in Milan in 1977 and also operates sites in Qatar, the Algarve, Istanbul and Hong Kong. The London restaurant will serve an all-day menu of classic Italian dishes alongside a drinks menu featuring contemporary takes on traditional Italian cocktails and a selection of more than 100 wines from regions across Europe.
South Korean chef Akira Back is making his London debut this year with the opening of an eponymous restaurant at the new Mandarin Oriental Mayfair. The chef, who was raised in Aspen, Colorado, had a successful career as a snowboarder before injury forced him into early retirement. His new venture will be an all-day dining, 148-cover restaurant that will serve dishes inspired by Back’s Korean heritage and his modern interpretation of Japanese cuisine. He will also see a number of other dining and drinking concepts at the Hanover Square hotel include Dosa, a 14-seater counter-style restaurant serving contemporary Korean dishes. Back currently operates 25 restaurants in cities such as Paris, Las Vegas, Dubai, Beverly Hills, San Diego, Doha, Toronto, Singapore, and Seoul.
Moma Group will open an outpost of its top-end Paris restaurant Café Lapérouse within Whitehall’s upcoming The OWO hotel. Billed as a ‘quintessential part of the Parisian dining scene’, the Lapérouse name traces its origins back to 1766. The inaugural Café Lapérouse launched in 2021 in the centre of Paris at Hotel de la Marine, on Place de la Concorde. The striking London restaurant will be located in the building’s central courtyard, housed within a space-aged looking indoor pavilion with room for 80 diners. The space has been inspired by the travels of French explorer Jean-François de La Pérouse, and has been designed by art director Cordélia de Castellane. Moma group operates a large collection of brands that also includes Mimosa, Andia, Forest, Victoria, Le Boeuf sur le Toit, Manko, and Noto.