Food and Travel (UK)
A restaurant with vroom in North London; a ten-nation fine diner inspired by an ancient kingdom; a kebab joint with a difference in Manchester; and the home cooking of Istanbul from a former Ottolenghi chef are all in the mix this month, says Alex Mead
Car showrooms are not the place you normally expect to find a new favourite neighborhood Italian, and yet that’s what the people of north London will find if they visit The Engine Rooms restaurant at Hexagon Classics. But then this isn’t your typical dealership – it’s owned by a man who once ran an F1 team and you’d need a cool £1.1m for one of the finest models, a vintage Mercedes.
Once you get past the collection of classic Aston Martins, Ferraris and Porsches, you’ll find simple but delicious Mediterranean fare, well cooked using local produce, with seafood at the fore. Choices include whole monkfish tails, glazed in miso and soy, grilled on the robata; halibut T-bones, giant king prawns on the coals with roasted nori, or pappardelle with Cornish crab. theenginerooms.co.uk
The work of pop artists Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol brings colour to the walls, while Mark Jarvis – the chef behind Anglo in Farringdon – does the same to the plates at just-launched 1771 in Chelsea. Expect beautiful, creative plates, aligned with the season. 1771restaurant.com
New openings, refurbs and improvements continue apace across the capital as the industry flexes after the constraints of lockdowns. In Notting Hill, Skye Gyngell has opened a new private dining room at the Spring-To-Go farm shop, decked out with a blush pallet and Kitten Grayson Flowers installations. springrestaurantshop.co.uk
Harrods is welcoming a guru of Lebanese food with Mireille Hayek launching Em Sherif later this year. Mireille opened her first restaurant, La Parilla, in Lebanon in 2006, and now has 12 venues in the Middle East. Named after her son, this is her first European outpost. em-sherif.co.uk
The home cooking of Istanbul is the theme of Zahter, just off Carnaby Street, the London debut of acclaimed chef Esra Muslu, previously head chef at Ottolenghi Spitalfields and Istanbul’s Soho House. She also opened four successful restaurants in Istanbul: Backyard, Auf, Kauf, and Unter.
To North Africa, albeit in west London, and Paul Katz and Mattia Bianchi, of Berber & Q and Shawarma Bar fame, are launching Carmel this month. The all-day menu, with a 60-strong wine list, showcases flavours of North Africa and the eastern Mediterranean with fire and sharing plates. carmelrestaurant.co.uk
Sustainability is at the heart of Warehouse, the first public restaurant at The Conduit club in Covent Garden. Brendan Eades, former head chef of the zero-waste Silo, is running the show with 80 covers serving up ‘bold flavours, seasonality and sustainability’. Day-boat fish, organic dairy and ancient grain are sure to feature. warehouselondon.com
Another London opening this month is a permanent site in
St James’s Market for Fallow – an ever-extending pop-up that launched in March 2020 – after vacating its Heddon Street spot. fallowrestaurant.com
There’s a farewell of sorts as Carousel – home of the chef residency – will close its doors in Marylebone after seven years and open its biggest site yet on Charlotte Street in Fitzrovia. Brothers Ed and Ollie Templeton are taking the concept one step further with Carousel’s own wine bar, open throughout the day; a ten-seater incubator for new concepts and longer-term residencies; and separate spaces for private dining, workshops and events, perfect for the festive season. carousel-london.com
Beyond London and, as good as a new opening, 19th-century riverside country pub Sculthorpe Mill in Norfolk has undergone a six-figure refurbishment to provide a setting that does full justice to the inspired menu of chef Elliot Ketley (ex-Soho House and The Square). sculthorpemill.uk
Ibérica Leeds is opening
La Bodega in the historic cellar beneath its main restaurant. Inspired by the bars of Barcelona, it’ll serve everything from craft beers and Cava to sherry and Spanish wine flights, and food-wise it’s classic tapas such as croquettes with Serrano ham and traditional tortilla. Ibericarestaurants.com
In Manchester, Brad Carter, the chef director of Michelin-starred Carters of Moseley, has opened One Star Döner Bar at the £1.4bn regeneration project of the city’s Mayfield District. Far from your typical kebab joint, it’s inspired by the famed Gemüse Kebab street vendor in Berlin. All kebabs are served on pide from a local Turkish bakery and use the very best of British produce, including Cornish lamb, Tamworth Mortadella and Cotswold White Chicken.
And, finally, back down south, Holm – the Somerset outpost from the team behind Salon, Levan and Larry’s, revealed here in August – opens on 10 November. holmsomerset.co.uk
ATUL’S HOT STUFF Atul Kochhar is breathing new life into what was the Westminster Fire Station with what he describes as his most ambitious restaurant yet.
Mathura, open this month, sees Kochhar and restaurateur Tina English not only maximise the Grade-II-listed building’s original features but also blend it with design influences from the Indian city of the same name. Now Mathura, for those who don’t know, was the capital of the ancient kingdom of King Kanishka, who was quite the warrior and had an epic empire that stretched from India right across Asia. This is where Kochhar found his influence.
Not content with focusing on one nation’s cuisine at Mathura – the restaurant, that is – Kocchar has created a menu fuelled by the food of ten countries. Beginning with the main influence, India, he’s also attempting to bring the flavours of nine surrounding countries to the table: China, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.
‘We’re not just creating a menu that pays homage to all the fantastic culinary traditions throughout Asia, but we’re taking a fresh look at the very best that each country has to offer and coming up with a new take on Indian cuisine,’ explains Kocchar. ‘It’s my love story to all the wonderful food
I have eaten on my travels, re-interpreted by me and my team to create a truly innovative dining experience in one of the most gorgeous settings you’ll find in London.’
The fire station, built in
1906 in the free English baroque style, still has the original carriage doors, tiles and fireman’s pole. It will house Mathura across two floors, with 60 covers, an open kitchen, two private dining rooms and a chef’s table. mathurarestaurant.co.uk