Deep-fried Welsh rarebit at the new St. John restaurant in Marylebone, being doused with Worcestershire sauce.
November arrives with London’s restaurants, pubs, cafes, and bars under extraordinary pressure — a situation many of them are familiar with after the events of 2020 and 2021.
This time, older issues like staffing and the impact of Brexit are rubbing shoulders with skyrocketing energy bills, but — for those with the money, reputation, or more likely, both — there are opportunities to grab and openings to savour.
Here’s what happened in the London restaurant world, last week.
- London’s outstanding taqueria, recently embroiled in a legal fight over its rights to the word “taqueria,” announced it would open its first permanent restaurant. Michelle Salazar de la Rocha and Sam Napier will open in Stoke Newington early in 2023.
- Liz Truss might no longer be Prime Minister but she is still in the news. This week, biographers revealed that her coffee habits were better than her politics. As one hack observed: “Clearly her soundest policy.”
- Qima, a green coffee importer and buyer, has opened a slick, serious coffee shop on Warren Street — bringing stunning Yemeni varietals to the centre of town.
- Celebrity chef and Gordon Ramsay alumnus Jason Atherton cautioned that he may well have to close restaurants in the new year, such was the omnishambles with staffing and recruitment. And despite having cooked for the likes of David Cameron, Theresa May, and Donald Trump (inside Downing Street), Atherton is unpleased with Tory ministers. He blamed the Brexit “lie” for much of hospitality’s current ills.
- Chef Asma Khan announced that she is returning to her “spiritual home” when she reopens Darjeeling Express in Kingly Court, off Carnaby Street soon.
- The latest in London landlords not reading the room. The city’s oldest chophouse — Simpson’s which opened in 1757 — has been kicked out over rent owed from during the COVID-19 lockdowns. The owners are campaigning to reopen the restaurant, saying, “We have survived Fires, World Wars, an industrial revolution, a plague (or pandemic as you may call it) and a mini budget for 265 years.”
And, a reminder of all the new and updated guides this week
Until next week, eat well and have a great weekend.