2023 was tough for restaurants. Inflation, the cost of living crisis and low consumer spending saw most struggle and many go bust – with high-profile closures including The Raby Hunt and Simon Rimmer’s Greens, it leaves more than just a Le-Gavroche-shaped hole in the restaurant scene this year.
Luckily there are restaurateurs keen to fill in the gaps, not least Jeremy King with his three (yes, three) planned openings. And while we may have forked out 6.7 per cent less in restaurants in 2023 (according to Barclays data), the average outlay on bars, pubs, takeaways and fast food grew.
Affordable alternatives should do well over the next 12 months, then, and a number of successful openings at the end of last year will bolster that optimism, foremost of which is The Devonshire, a Soho pub and grill that has enraptured the restaurant-going world.
These are the places to make a beeline for in 2024.
Where: Chelsea, London
What: Culinary big dog Claude Bosi is on a roll, having opened Socca and Brooklands over the past year. Not content just with them – and the iconic Bibendum, of course – Bosi is opening Josephine in January. Perhaps inspired by the mega success of Lyonnais restaurant Bouchon Racine in Farringdon, Bosi is getting in on the act, though he’s not jumping on the bandwagon – Bosi hails from Lyon. French classics like onion soup and rabbit in mustard sauce are likely to thrill, with a daily plat du jour showcasing Lyon’s offal-heavy fare.
What to order: Chicken liver terrine with vin jaune
Arlington, The Park and Simpson’s in the Strand
Where: Central London
When: Early 2024 for Arlington, spring for The Park and later in the year for Simpson’s
What: After being unceremoniously ousted from the restaurant group that brought us The Wolseley, Jeremy King returns with no fewer than three grand openings this year. Expect his restaurants to focus on brasserie classics. Arlington will see King return to the site of Le Caprice, where he began his career, reinventing it as Arlington, while the Park will be situated by Kensington Gardens. King is famous for providing riotous joy and his restaurants might just be what London needs in 2024.
What to order: Anything that reminds you of the good old days
Where: Shaftesbury Avenue, London
What: It won’t be the first time Singaporean restaurateur Ellen Chew has opened Singapulah. A few years ago, Chew opened a cafe-bakery called Arôme as well as Singapulah, a Singaporean restaurant. The first succeeded, the latter fell by the wayside. Now sponsored by the Singapore government, expect the spot to become a flagship of Singaporean cuisine in London – it will include a shop, too.
What to order: There’s no menu yet, but classics like nasi lemak or Hainanese chicken rice should feature – and wow.
Where: Borough Market, London
What: Borough Market arguably saw more successful openings in 2023 than anywhere else. Three stellar spots, Sri Lankan restaurant Rambutan, southern Thai Kolae and West African Akara, wowed critics and punters alike. In February, Camille looks certain to continue the area’s winning streak. It will be run by Clare Lattin and Tom Hill, who already have successful sites in London (Ducksoup and Little Duck) and Devon (Emilia). Last year’s swathe of French restaurants shows no sign of slowing down.
What to order: Cep-stuffed chicken wing
Where: Soho, London
What: Since opening in 2016 in Dalston, east London, Three Sheets has emerged as one of Britain’s best-loved cocktail bars. In March they will launch a second bar, this time in Soho, proving the area’s enduring ability to weather any economic storm. Alongside drinks there will be all-day dining, from coffee and pastries in the morning to a much-anticipated menu focused on nostalgic British classics – think salt beef sandwiches, chips and oysters.
What to order: Salt beef sandwich
Endo at the OWO
Where: St James’s, London
When: Spring 2024
What: 2023 saw a number of wincingly expensive openings in London, often in plush hotels, and Raffles at The OWO, set in the Old War Office in Whitehall, was foremost among them. Inside there’s the first London restaurant of Mauro Colagreco, a previous winner of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants award, and Café Laperouse, a pricy Parisian import. Little is known about Endo Kazutoshi’s new restaurant which joins them, but his current omakase in White City is among the city’s dearest. Expect world-class sake and spectacular views.
What to order: Sushi, which ought to be flawless
Where: Canary Wharf, London
When: Spring 2024
What: It’s long been known that the team behind hit London restaurants Fallow and Fowl have planned a third opening. Continuing the animal-named theme, hinting at their obsession with nose-to-tail and seasonal cooking, Roe will promote “underappreciated produce”. While opening a new restaurant in 2024 is “harder now than ever,” according to James Robson, chairman of Fallow, Fowl and Roe, the group has built a loyal following which will flock to the new restaurant.
What to order: Roe mixed grill, featuring grilled marinated haunch, confit shoulder and a venison skewer
Mandarin Oriental Mayfair
When: Spring 2024
What: Chef Akira Back isn’t a name many Britons will recognise, but globally he’s a star, with restaurants across the world inspired by his Korean heritage and love of Japanese cuisine. The restaurant will be gilded – the cost-of-living crisis hasn’t hit Mayfair, where lavish restaurants open apace. There will be a chef’s table experience, bar lounge, and “rooftop experience”. Back will add British twists to his Korean-Japanese culinary repertoire.
What to order: Wagyu tempura wellington
Where: Fitzrovia, London
When: Spring 2024
What: 2024 will see the wine-bar-small-plates combo ramp up further, and July should be one of the best of the lot. It will be open all day, with pastries in the morning, but at lunch and dinner it will come into its own. Unsurprisingly, it’s French inspired, focusing on Alsace, so expect Germanic twists and plenty of riesling.
What to order: Chicken broth with spelt and tarragon dumplings
Unknown (Stevie Parle’s new spot)
Where: Mayfair, London
When: Summer 2024
What: Stevie Parle, founder of beloved Soho pasta restaurant Pastaio, is tight-lipped about what lies in store (neither the name nor concept has been revealed) merely stating he will open a “big new restaurant in the West End”. Expect Britain’s finest regenerative produce and a wood-fired oven – the only hints he’s given.
What to order: Something flame-licked and burnished feels fitting
What: Ash and Erin Valenzuela-Heeger are moving from South Africa to Birmingham to open Riverine Rabbit, after a successful pop-up last summer. In the suburb of Stirchley, the pair will serve small plates blending South African influence with local produce. Game should feature heavily, alongside wines from South Africa.
What to order: Crab muffins
Where: Bedale, Yorkshire
When: 8 February
What: Yorkshire is one of Britain’s hottest food destinations, and Hansom is sure to continue its growth. Ruth Hansom has plenty of experience, five years at the Ritz included. But in February she is finally opening an eponymous restaurant that will focus on hyper-seasonal and local produce. There will be both a restaurant and wine bar (it’s 2024 after all).
What to order: As it’s a tasting menu, you won’t have to choose
What: The French renaissance isn’t confined to the capital, and Bavette will arrive in Leeds early in the year to much fanfare. Head chef Sandy Jarvis, formerly of high-end pub London The Culpeper, and sommelier Clément Cousin, will bring French bistro classics and wines from small French producers to Horsforth. It looks like a surefire hit.
What to order: pâté-en-croûte or shellfish bisque
When: Spring 2024
What: Skof is likely to be one of 2024’s most talked about openings – any new restaurant by a Simon Rogan alumnus is. It is the first solo venture of Tom Barnes, who has impeccable credentials. Barnes helmed the kitchen at Rogan & Co in Cartmel, Cumbria, when it won a Michelin star, and was L’Enclume’s executive chef when it picked up its third. Skof, backed by Rogan’s Umbel Restaurant group, will continue the Rogan theme: supreme quality local ingredients treated with a minimalist hand but packing plenty of flavour. Expect Michelin stars.
What to order: Another that’s likely to be tasting menu only, so the pressure’s off
Where: Cobham, Surrey
When: Spring 2024
What: Ashley Palmer-Watts is part of the team that brought 2023’s most talked about opening, The Devonshire, to London. The former Dinner by Heston Blumenthal chef could strike gold again with The Garden. Few details have emerged of the project, which includes a fancy restaurant, wine bar, cafe and bakery.
What to order: Anything that features something plucked from the site’s historic walled garden
Notable closures: restaurants we’ll miss in 2024
Why? The Roux family is credited with changing the way Britain eats, but Michel Roux Jr caught many by surprise when announcing the two-Michelin-starred Le Gavroche would close in January after 57 years. It wasn’t down to failure – the restaurant was fully booked – but due to Roux’s will for a “better work/life balance”. Roux has said there will be Le Gavroche pop-ups in the future.
Where: West Didsbury, Manchester
Why? TV chef Simon Rimmer, who founded Greens 33 years ago, closed the restaurant in early January 2024, citing his landlord increasing rent by 35 per cent and soaring food and energy costs. The business, he said, had become “unviable”. Kate Nicholls, CEO of UK Hospitality, recently urged the government to reduce business rates and lower VAT to ease the pressure on restaurants. A second site run by Rimmer, in Sale, will remain open.
Where: Darlington, County Durham
Why? Raby Hunt chef-patron James Close was the first chef in the northeast of England to achieve two Michelin stars. His closure of Raby Hunt is due to his move to a nearby country house hotel, Rockliffe Hall, where he will be culinary director.
The Pig and Whistle
Where: Beverley, East Yorkshire
Why? In December chef James Allcock said the restaurant, a beloved gastropub for the past six years, had “never been so battered” after incurring debts of almost £40,000 after Covid, a quadrupled energy bill and a continued staffing crisis. One of UKHospitality’s aims for 2024 is for the government to reform apprenticeships to help create jobs.
Why? The sustainable Cardiff restaurant, which opened in 2021, shut its doors on January 7, blaming “the current industry struggles”. The team will continue to run Dusty’s Pizzeria and Nook, both in the Welsh capital.
Copper & Ink
Where: Blackheath, London
Why? Owner Tony Rudd has cited reduced customer spend, rising energy bills and food costs as the prime reasons for Copper & Ink’s closure, saying he was “absolutely devastated”. According to Barclays, 47 per cent of Britons planned to reduce discretionary spending last year. Cutting back on dining out, unfortunately for many restaurants, is one way for many to do so.
Where: Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire
Why? A much loved Michelin-starred spot in rural Worcestershire, Pensons closed just before Christmas, with reasons including “persistent inflation and interest rate pressures”. “We are urging the Government to reconsider its decision to put up business rates by more than six per cent in England and instead use the forecasted April rate of inflation of three per cent, which would relieve some pain for businesses,” said Nicholls.