At last. The January nonsense about cutting back and detoxing is out of the way and we can get back to enjoying some great meals.
February is promising to be a brilliant month as indulgent new food spots open their doors up and down the country.
With the help of restaurant insiders Hot Dinners, we take a look at the new dining locations you need on your radar, from local highlights to the latest ventures from the industry's biggest names and expansions of current favourites.
(Please note that all opening dates are subject to change due to the unpredictable nature of opening restaurants.)
33 Dean St, Soho W1D 4PP
Opening date: 1 February
What’s the story? It’s the global brand we’ve never heard of – a family owned business that’s taken the Middle East by storm. Oliver Maki has five branches of its contemporary sushi restaurant abroad and their first venture into the UK has enlisted top sushi chef Louis Kenji Huang and a prime Dean Street location.
The Club House
Chavasse Park, 3 Thomas Steers Way, Liverpool L1 8LW
Opening date: February 1
What’s the story? Liverpool’s huge One development has seen no-end of luxury brands spread to the city centre, so this New-England-style ‘beach club’, complete with three floors and six hundred seats, fits right in. Although it probably won’t be bringing the beachy weather with it, the laid-back atmosphere and cocktails will be more than pleasing.
105 – 106 Upper Street Islington N1 1QN
Opening date: 2 February
What’s the story? Soho establishment Randall and Aubin has lost its head chef Marcel Grzyb to this Islington restaurant, another charming addition to the restaurant-full but big-name-light Upper Street (alongside last year’s openings Oldroyd and Bellanger). Galley is a sleek joint venture with Grzyb’s sister, stylist Oriona Robb, with a menu including a wealth of Gryzb’s signature seafood.
Coldra Woods, The Usk Valley, Newport NP18 2YA
Opening date: 2 February
What’s the story? 2013 Masterchef finalist Larkin Cen opens his first restaurant in Newport, set in a country hotel and golf resort. Fine dining is certainly the order of the day on the Asian fusion menu which is aiming to become a destination dining location.
16 Henrietta Street, London WC2E 8QH
Opening date: February 2
What’s the story? The latest export from Paris is a second branch of a restaurant by a graduate of Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen, Greg Marchand. The name Frenchie comes from the gaspingly original nickname the Fifteen staff gave Greg. Thankfully the menu is just as predictably French, and should be ready to compete with the wealth of Gallic restaurants in the area.
3 Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden WC2H 9DP
Opening date: 4 February
What’s the story? It seems to be a vintage month for Covent Garden, which is also gaining this sophisticated sustainable opening. Not just cynically using another synonym for organic, Native brings the countryside’s best dining to the city, featuring ‘wild food’ with foraged sides. It's going to sustain our appetite for locally-sourced dining for a long time to come.
The Zetter, St John's Square 86-88 Clerkenwell Road, London EC1M 5RJ
Opening date: 4 February
What’s the story? The Zetter Townhouse’s expansion into Clerkenwell is topped off with this co-working bar space. It's an office (exclusive to members) by day and a sophisticated bar by night, with seasonal British food and what we’re told is an extensive wine list. If only all offices were like this.
63-66 St Martin’s Lane, Covent Garden WC2N 4JS
Opening date: 8 February
What’s the story? Dumplings are a perennial London favourite so a new Covent Garden bar specialising in them goes straight to the top of any must-visit lists. With a simple design, and pared-back menu (meat, fish or vegetable gyoza, or ramen, or bao buns), fans of fuss-free dining will be over the moon.
El Gato Negro
52 King St, Manchester M2 4LY
Opening date: February 19 (soft launch until February 22)
What’s the story? The long-awaited relaunch of this popular West Yorkshire tapas joint has been over a year coming as it packed up its Ripponden home and moved to Manchester’s King Street. But hungry tapas fans will be rewarded with a weekend-long soft launch and a deluxe menu.
107 - 111 Briggate, Leeds LS1 6AZ
Opening date: 26 February
What’s the story? Polpo is a London institution, having transformed our perception of meatballs from ‘school dinners’ to ‘school of cooking’, and proving they don’t even need to include meat to be delicious. Now the brand is opening its first Northern venue, in Leeds’ celebrated Harvey Nichols store on Briggate, as well as appearing in the London flagship store from February 8.
New branches of old favourites
Meat fans, get in line, as hallowed burger join Patty and Bun opens a Soho branch (February 19) and Pitt Cue Co moves its signature barbecue to the City. Plus the delayed Grain Store branch at Gatwick has finally opened, bringing healthy food to airports for what seems like the first time ever. The Vault Festival, hosted in Waterloo’s arches, will be home to pop-up pub the Suffolk Arms, and one of 2015’s biggest hits Egg Break re-opens in Notting Hill. Our to-do list is expanding for reasons we're delighted about...
If you like to be in the know about the restaurant scene, check back every month for our list of upcoming restaurants and read our previous guides to find out where's still hot:
Images courtesy of the restaurants and Rex Features