The restaurant hot list 2013

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Stylist Team
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Presenting the hottest, coolest restaurant openings which have waiting lists longer than a Heston Blumenthal recipe. This is not just food, this is a social necessity

Words: Benjamin Spriggs Artwork: Kerry Ryan

  • The Clove Club

    Shoreditch, London

    Opened: March 2013

    What to expect: “It’s just simple food,” says chef Isaac McHale of the food at his much-anticipated restaurant. Dishes such as spinach, clams, sunflower seeds and mint are served in the chic surroundings of the old Shoreditch Town Hall. It’s always busy, so arrive before 6pm.

    Do this: Order Isaac’s famous buttermilk fried chicken.

    Meal for two, including wine: £120; 020-7729 6496;

  • Mhor 84 Motel

    Balquhidder, Scotland

    Opened: March 2013

    What to expect: Monachyle Mhor hotel has long been a favourite foodie getaway set in the idyllic Trossachs National Park in Scotland. Now the family behind it have bought a rundown building on the A84 and the on-site restaurant is already a hit. Chef Tom Lewis has renovated the 300-year-old space, “lit fires which have remained unlit for 40 years” and now serves up hearty fare with many ingredients sourced on the family farm – think Scottish rarebit, braised casseroles and cracking seafood.

    Do this: Pack your dancing shoes. It’s a more laid-back atmosphere than the hotel with live music a key part of the motel’s nightlife. Local musicians and bands such as Session A9 – ‘Best Live Act’ at the 2012 Scots Trad Music Awards – lead the ceilidhs.

    Meal for two, with wine: £60; 01877-384622;

  • Hartnett Holder & Co

    Lime Wood, Hampshire

    Opened: February 2013

    What to expect: Angela Hartnett is a busy woman so it’s a miracle she’s found time to set up this new venture at the New Forest’s Lime Wood Hotel. Harnett has teamed up with head chef Luke Holder to create what the pair call “fun dining, not fine dining”. It’s British food with an Italian twist. Most ingredients are sourced from the surrounding countryside, such as Dorset truffles or New Forest venison. Our favourite dish was Hartnett’s grandmother’s recipe for semifreddo with Amaretto.

    Do this: Enjoy the YBA artwork, including Tracey Emin sketches, in the relaxed dining room.

    Meal for two, including wine: £70; 023 8028 7167;

  • Ametsa with Arzak Instruction

    Belgravia, London

    Opened: March 2013

    What to expect: This Basque-inspired restaurant in London’s Halkin hotel serves up clever cuisine on a grand scale: ox cheek with vanilla, or hake with clams and ham salt, look as beautiful as they taste. It’s the first international outing for father-daughter team Juan Mari and Elena Arzak, whose eponymous eatery in Spain’s San Sebastian holds three Michelin stars.

    Do this: Stare at architect Ab Rogers’ sparkling ceiling made of 7,000 spice-filled glass tubes.

    Meal for two, including wine: £160; 020-7333 1234;

  • Balthazar

    Covent Garden, London

    Opened: February 2013

    What to expect: New York’s famous French-style brasserie has now landed here, thanks to hip restaurateur Keith McNally. When Stylist ate there, Christopher Bailey and Chelsea Clinton were spotted at one table, Jade Jagger at another. Stand-outs include the fruits de mer, lobster and truffle risotto and a tarte tatin. The service is equally impressive: an easy mix of subtlety and attentiveness that is the norm in NYC, but often lacking over here.

    Do this: Dodge the waiting list – try your luck with a late lunch or pre-7.30pm walk-in.

    Meal for two, including wine: £100; 020-3301 1155;

  • Social Eating House Soho, London

    Opened: April 2013

    What to expect: This is former Gordon Ramsay protégé Jason Atherton’s second London opening and builds on the monumental success of his Pollen Street Social. The kitchen is headed up by Paul Hood and produces a dazzling and diverse menu including dishes such as ravioli of wild boar bolognaise and peppered hearts and kidney. We also want to be first in line to try the delicious-sounding London honey sponge with goat’s curd ice cream.

    Do this: Make time for the bar, The Blind Pig. Mixologist Gareth Evans has transferred from the Pollen Street Social, bringing with him cocktails designed to surprise. Make ours a Thermonuclear Daquiri please.

    Meal for two with wine: £80; 020-7993 3251;

  • Bouchon Fourchette

    Hackney, London

    Opened: February 2013

    What to expect: Chef Jeremy Huguet previously toiled in the kitchens of the legendary Alain Ducasse and Pierre Gagnaire in France. Now he’s brought his own take on a Gallic bistro to East London’s ever increasing culinary roster. The décor and clientele couldn’t be more Hackney hipster if they tried (and they’re trying really hard to not look like they’re trying). But hearty, traditional French fare such as coq au vin, raclette, omlettes and garlicky snails will instantly transport you to bohemian Parisian backstreets. Noted Evening Standard critic Fay Maschler recently hailed Huguet’s talent, saying the chef obviously had “considerable expertise up his sleeve,” and gave the joint an enthusiastic thumbs-up.

    Do this: Order the delicious steak tartare and frites main as a starter to share. It comes on a wooden board to add to that authentic bistro experience.

    Meal for two, including wine: £60; 020-8986 2702;

  • Fleet Street Kitchen

    Central Birmingham

    Opened: February 2013

    What to expect: This new Birmingham venture calls itself a meatery and is rightly proud of its strong farm-to-table ethos. Food is cooked on the barbacoa grill (a Spanish charcoal indoor barbecue and one of only a few in the UK). The 16oz T-Bone is amazing and you won’t want the Wagyu burger to end. Adventurous vegetarians are also catered for, with a great stilton and walnut flan.

    Do this: Order the Flights Of Fancy – three glasses of wine selected to perfectly complement your meal.

    Meal for two, including wine: £100; 0121-236 0100;

  • Beagle

    Dalston, London

    Opened: April 2013

    What to expect: A celebration of brilliant British produce from James Ferguson, who was previously head chef at Shoreditch’s celebrated Rochelle Street canteen. He’s just taken over three renovated railway arches just off Hackney Road and the menu includes morsels such as braised rabbit with butter beans and mustard octopus cooked on the kitchen’s traditional wood grill, as well as custard tart and poached rhubarb (pictured). The team funding the project are Danny and Kieran Clancy, aka DJ outfit Krankbrother. Music and a touch of madness are inevitable.

    Do this: Head to the outdoor terrace and sip on a Tisane cocktail of rum, pink grapefruit and rosehip.

    Meal for two, including wine: £70; 020-7613 2967;

  • Master & Servant

    Shoreditch, London

    Opened: March 2013

    What to expect: Named after a Depeche Mode song, this New York-inspired grill in Hoxton Square does not disappoint. Former St John and Hix chef Matt Edwards is hugely excited about his first solo venture. The highlights include ox cheek with celeriac and horseradish; and peanut butter ice-cream. The cocktails, by neighbouring Happiness Forgets, are worth a visit in their own right.

    Do this: Try and get a spot at the dining bar downstairs. Reserved for walk-ins, it offers the same menu as upstairs, but has a full view of the kitchen.

    Meal for two, including wine: £70; 020- 7729 4626;

  • The French

    Peter Street, Manchester

    Opened: March 2013

    What to expect: Building on the success of his own Michelinstarred L’Enclume in Cumbria and the hugely successful Roganic pop-up in London, maverick chef Simon Rogan is taking over the restaurant at Manchester’s venerable Midland Hotel. Here you’ll find Rogan’s signature contrary British culinary style, marrying quality ingredients with techniques honed at Rogan’s experimental research kitchen. Think artichoke broth with truffle dumplings, bacon and hazlenuts; and ox tartare with kohlrabi, pumpkin seeds and sunflower shoots.

    Do this: Leave room for the cheese board – 10 generous portions of British cheese.

    Meal for two, including wine: from £90; 0161-236 3333;

  • Homeslice

    Covent Garden, London

    Opened: March 2013

    What to expect: Having left its temporary pitch at Kings Cross’ trendy Filling Station, chef Ry Jessup is bringing his popular pizzas to a new 50-seater space in Neal’s Yard. Jessup is famously ambitious with his toppings: past favourites include bone marrow, roast spring onion and watercress or artichoke and courgette with lemon and parsley. Plus, with everything pretty much priced at £4, from slices of pizza to a glass of wine, you’ll not be out of pocket.

    Do this: Indulge in the wine. Double magnums of white and red on the tables with measuring sticks allow you to pay for exactly what you’ve drunk.

    Meal for two, including wine: from £8 each; 020-7836 4604;

  • The Pompadour

    Princes Street, Edinburgh

    Opened: September 2012

    What to expect: This is the first time Michelin-starred brothers Chris and Jeff Galvin have taken their signature fine French dining beyond central London. Found in the Hilton’s newly revamped Caledonian Hotel, this grandlytitled restaurant may serve fancy food at high prices, but the fuss is worth it. An amuse bouche of the Galvins’ signature scallop and crab lasagne leaves you begging for more. Feeling hungry (and brave)? Try the fabled poulet de Bresse: a whole chicken rubbed with foie gras butter and truffles, then poached in Armagnac inside a pig’s bladder.

    Do this: Book the window table that overlooks Edinburgh Castle.

    Meal for two, including wine: £200; 0131-222 8975;

  • Story

    London Bridge, London

    Opened: April 2013

    What to expect: At just 26, chef Tom Sellers’ CV reads like a who’s who of international cuisine. His own restaurant takes an inventive approach to British ingredients. Choose a six or 10-course menu including scallops, cucumber and dill ash (pictured); and beef cheek, stout and cauliflower yeast. Not only that, the candles are made from beef dripping which can be mopped up with bread as they melt.

    Do this: Take a book to leave behind at the restaurant. “We want these books to inspire others, in the way that we hope our food inspires our diners,” explains Sellers.

    Six courses, including wine: £110; 020-7183 2117;

  • The Grain Store

    Kings Cross, London

    Opens: June 2013

    What to expect: Former Raymond Blanc protégé Bruno Loubet (pictured) opened his eponymous Bistrot Bruno Loubet in Clerkenwell’s Zetter Hotel back in February 2010. His innovative take on formal French cuisine gained him legions of fans, so Loubet’s new venture is one of the most eagerly anticipated culinary events of 2013. The newly rejuvenated Kings Cross has become a mecca for foodies and the restaurant is at its heart in Granary Square, where barges used to unload wheat from Lincolnshire for London’s bakers – hence the Grain Store moniker. The restaurant will focus on Loubet’s love of vegetables creating both hearty and refined dishes such as courgette, broad beans and prawn falafel; and kimchie cabbage with stuffed chicken wings. Cocktails created by 69 Colebrooke Row’s Tony Conigliaro will liven things up.

    Do this: Sample the savoury cocktails matched to specific dishes.

    Meal for two, including wine: £80; 020-7324 4466

  • Central Market

    Central Glasgow

    Opened: October 2012

    What to expect: Glasgow is all too often overshadowed by the flashier establishments of Edinburgh, yet here is a dining room that’s just as good as the capital’s best. You’ll find inventive dishes like crispy beef brisket salad and Iberico pork shoulder cooked with ham hock and butter beans.

    Do this: Go mid-morning. With dishes such as jugged kippers and French toast with bacon on the menu, it’s the best brunch in town.

    Meal for two, including wine: £65; 0141-552 0902; centralmarket

  • Oblix @ The Shard

    London Bridge, London

    Opens: 6 May 2013

    What to expect: If you like your dinner with a view, they don’t come much better than this. Rainer Becker and Arjun Wainey – the duo behind the celebrated Japanese robatayaki barbecue style of Charlotte Street’s Roka and Knightsbridge’s Zuma – are set to take over the 32nd floor of The Shard for this new eatery. Based on a New York grill with British and European influences, it will be split into a rotisserie and grill and a lounge bar, where you can feast on grilled meats, slow roasted joints and wood-fired pizzas. Just don’t let vertigo ruin your appetite.

    Do this: Taste wines at the interactive sommelier station, the first of its kind in London, and enjoy cocktails topped with hand-chiselled ice.

    Meal for two, including wine: £150; 020- 7268 6700

  • HKK

    Liverpool Street, London

    Opened: December 2012

    What to expect: At the new City outpost from the Hakkasan team, there’s an eight-course lunch for £48, a 15-course dinner at a hefty £95 and… that’s it. Stylist feasted on the latter – a haute cuisine Chinese banquet, with the keepsake menu only arriving at the end. Stand-out dishes from Chef Tong Chee Hwee were tea-smoked Wagyu beef smoked with jasmine tea; and Peking duck dipped in sugar and hoisin.

    Do this: Leave room for dessert – the pineapple fritters are exceptional.

    Meal for two, with wine: £220; 020-3535 1888;