Restaurant radar: December 2023

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

December's key restaurant openings Sophie Pascoe and Benito Martinez Cardiff restaurants, Gilgamesh London Mayfair, and UK debut of Monaco and Duba...

Related tags Restaurant Sophie Pascoe Benito Martinez Cardiff Gilgamesh Gaia Casual dining Dishoom Phat Buns Shrimp Shack

This month's key openings include two new ventures from Cardiff restaurateurs Sophie Pascoe and Benito Martinez, the return of Gilgamesh, and the UK debut of Monaco and Dubai-based restaurant Gaia.

Bodega and Ballers

Cardiff restaurateurs Sophie Pascoe and Benito Martinez will open two restaurants next to each other at Lakeside’s Amber Vista development. The first of these, called Bodega, is billed a sister restaurant to The Priory in Caerleon, which is also owned by Pascoe and Martinez. The restaurant will be a homage to the pair’s Spanish heritage and will be split into snacks, small plates and sharer plates. Highlights will include Colchester oyster with pickle and cava granita; sobrasada croquetas with date puree; a Welsh dry aged sharer sirloin with burnt onion butter; and firebrick chicken cooked in a brick oven and served with miso, harissa and romesco. The second restaurant will be called Ballers and serve fusion pizzas such as the El Espanol withSan Marzano tomatoes, fior di latte mozzarella, manchego cheese, chorizo, salchichon, and lomo.
Amber Vista, Clear Water Way, Cardiff, CF23 6DL //



Gilgamesh is to reopen on the former Tredwell’s site in London’s Covent Garden following a four-year hiatus with its original founder and team in place. First opened in Camden in 2006, the 800-cover restaurant fused a pan-Asian menu with a £12m interior that depicted the epic of the Babylonian king Gilgamesh and was a key noughties celebrity hangout. The new-look venue will feature a Mesopotamian-inspired space, courtesy of design company Studio Minerva, featuring hand-carved bronze work and opulent dark woods. The à la carte bar and food menu will embrace flavours from China, Japan and Southeast Asia, with dishes including grilled Dover sole with basil; Japanese pizza with tuna truffle mizuma; and a crispy duck, watermelon and cashew nut salad.
4A Upper St Martin's Ln, London WC2H 9NY


Monaco and Dubai-based Greek restaurant Gaia will finally make its UK debut this month in London’s Mayfair. Located on Dover Street within the same development that is home to 1 Hotel Mayfair, the site will have 154-cover and promises an ‘unparalleled dining experience, celebrating craft, simplicity and the warm hospitality so loved in Greek culture’. Mezze dishes will include smoked cod roe and lemon zest and melitzanosalata (an aubergine-based dip. Larger dishes include kritharaki (orzo with tomato sauce, calamari, prawns and clams) and paidakia arnisia (lamb cutlets served with tzatziki and freshly baked pita). Desserts take in pagoto giourti (frozen Greek yoghurt, topped with chopped nuts and a drizzle of honey) and ravani (coconut sponge cake served with cream).
50 Dover Street, London W1S 4NY

Shrimp Shack

The co-founder of dessert concept Creams will launch a shrimp-focused casual dining brand in Streatham, south London, this month. Shrimp Shack will see Balal Aqil partner with fellow entrepreneurs Danny Caratella, Rish Gola and Raf Adam and is billed as a ‘high energy, vibrant and welcoming’ new brand. The core menu centres on a ‘build your own’ experience where diners first choose their size of shrimp followed by the dip, and finally the seasoning. Other seafood, including crab and lobster, will also be available, as well as meat choices of beef, lamb or chicken, alongside a selection of sides. The Shrimp Shack team is working with 360-degree branding, interior design and architecture specialist Harrison on the project. Shrimp Shack will use two primary, vibrant, and contemporary colours – blue and pink – which represent the sea and the seafood in ‘a fresh way’.
20-21, The High Parade, Streatham High Rd, London SW16 1EX

1 York Place


The husband-and-wife team behind Bristol restaurant Little French and Little Shop & Pantry are opening another restaurant in the city this month. Freddy and Nessa Bird have taken on the site that was formerly Rosemarino restaurant on York Place in Clifton for what will be their third restaurant. Called 1 York Place, it is described as being a ‘cosy 46-seater neighbourhood restaurant showcasing the best in European produce and wine and a few from further afield’.
1 York Pl, Clifton, Bristol BS8 1AH


A café and wine bar inspired by the Puglian city of Lecce will launch in London’s Covent Garden this month. The 15-cover Capilungo is being co-founded by Lecce-born brother and sister duo Gianluca and Asia Capilungo; their uncle Luca Capilungo; and Asia’s partner Huzefa Sajawal, the co-owner and executive chef of Indo-Chinese restaurant group Fatt Pundit. Café by day and wine bar by night, Capilungo’s offering will focus on quality ingredients and provenance, with a menu championing Lecce’s ‘hyper-local’ delicacies, from freshly baked ‘pasticciotto’ and ‘rustico’ pastries, burrata salads and cured meats, to Pugliese wines, aperitivo, and cocktails. Inspired by the Capilungo’s uncle Luca, who has run his own bakery in Lecce since 1991, the pair say they want to bring his passion for specialty Lecce cuisine to London.
76 Long Acre, London WC2E 9LB

Temper Paddington


Steakhouse and barbecue restaurant Temper will open its fifth London restaurant next month in Paddington. The group has acquired the former KuPP site on Merchant Square by Paddington Basin for its latest opening. It comes just over a year after the launch of Temper Shoreditch, which marked a return to the expansion trail for the group following a four-year hiatus. The menu at Temper Paddington will feature a selection of barbecue, smoked meats, seafood and tacos. Dishes will include rare-breed British cattle that is butchered in-house and cooked over fire; yellowfin tuna tostadas; and aged beef nachos.
Unit 53, 5 Merchant Sq, London W2 1BQ

Roti King Waterloo

Malaysian restaurant Roti King will open its third restaurant in the capital this month, in Waterloo. Launching on Lower Marsh, the restaurant will be walk-in only and will have space for 50 diners and an open kitchen to enable guests to see the rotis being made. It will serve a menu of roti canai that will be available with different options of kari - chicken, mutton, dahl and fish - as well as the stuffed roti murtabak with a variety of fillings. Dishes served with coconut rice will include beef rendang, and nasi lemak. Noodle-based dishes will include char kuey teow – stir fried flat rice noodles with egg, prawns and chicken; and kari laksa with egg noodles in a coconut broth, served with seafood and tofu.
97 Lower Marsh, Waterloo, London, SE1 7AB

Fatto a Mano Covent Garden


Brighton & Hove-based restaurant group Fatto a Mano will open its second London pizzeria this month in Covent Garden, bringing its total estate to five sites. The Neapolitan pizza brand will take over the site on St Martins Lane that previously housed Iranian restaurant Nutshell, which is understood to have closed last year. It will mark Fatto a Mano’s first London opening under its core brand. Last year the group laid down permanent roots in the capital with the launch of Fatto Pizza & Beer, which focused directly on pairing pizza with craft beer. Holding 90 covers in total, the new Covent Garden pizzeria will feature unified ground floor and mezzanine dining areas with marble flooring and counter tops, as well as an open kitchen. As with the group’s other sites, the dough used will be made fresh every day and proved for at least 24 hours. Pizza options to feature on the menu will include the Diavola with tomato, spicy salami, chilli, mozzarella, parmesan and basil; and a vegan pizza with tomato, olive and tomato ‘nduja, roasted peppers, black olives, vegan cheese and basil.
30 St Martin’s Lane, London, WC2N 4ER

Dishoom Battersea

Dishoom is opening its first London restaurant south of the river this month in Battersea. The 235-cover site will be the Indian restaurant group’s seventh restaurant in the capital and will be located on Electric Boulevard next to Battersea Power Station. Dishoom Battersea takes inspiration from graphic novels and looks at the future through the lens of the ‘50s, set in an imagined Bombay of the year 2023. Design elements will include futuristic Hindi typefaces on the walls alongside artwork paying homage to architects, inventors and sci-fi writers ‘whose dreams shape our present and future’, according to the company​The menu will feature a chef’s special dish of bhatti chicken. Described as a forgotten cousin of tandoori chicken (bhatti is another name for anything cooked with fire), it is marinated in black spices and can be found in a few Bombay restaurants under the name black chicken. The dish is served on the bone, in whole or half portions, with fresh green chutney and onion lachcha salad.
Upper Ground Floor, 42 Electric Blvd, Nine Elms, London SW11 8BJ

Phat Buns London


Burger brand Phat Buns will open its first restaurant in the capital this month. The group is taking over the TinselTown site on Westbourne Grove for what will be its 11th restaurant nationally. Phat Buns serves a wide halal menu that includes a range of burgers, bao buns, wings, boneless tenders, and hot dogs. It also serves ‘exclusive’ dishes topped with either Doritos or Cheetos. Phat Buns launched in October 2019 and operates sites in Nottingham, Loughborough, Birmingham, Leicester, Sheffield, Derby, and Coventry. A further site in Slough is also expected to open before the end of the year.
57 Westbourne Grove, London W2 4UA

The Butcher’s Tap and Grill Chelsea

Five years on first arriving in the capital with the opening Kerridge’s Bar and Grill in the Corinthia Hotel, Tom Kerridge is set to launch his first London pub this month having taken over the former The Queen’s Head site on Tyron Street, close to Sloane Square. Opening under the chef’s The Butcher’s Tap & Grill brand, which he first launched in Marlow in 2017, the 100-cover pub will predominately be wet led with a rotating roster of drinks including London craft beers and new world wines. There will also be a ‘British centric’ food menu of butcher-cuts, burgers, hot dogs and small bites, all served in takeaway containers. The design, overseen by Tibbatts Abel, will include a focal hardwood bar topped with zinc, handmade lighting, curated art, vintage flooring, and British-made decorative tiles. There will also be an open kitchen in the basement level, alongside meat ageing fridges.
25 Tryon St, London SW3 3LG

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