The New Year beckons and The Gannet’s beak is already twitching with excitement about the new restaurants set to open. First stop Paris, where Arnaud Donckele, whose breathtaking food at La Vague d’Or in St Tropez has won him three Michelin stars, launches his first Paris restaurant at the long-awaited Cheval Blanc hotel by the Pont Neuf in the spring.
The Gannet will also be setting a course for New York, where the hugely talented Brazilian chef Manu Buffara is opening Ella, her first site outside Brazil: expect locally sourced organic ingredients cooked with South American flair in an upscale Chelsea setting.
At home, London continues to reinforce its reputation as a global gastronomic hub, and 2020 is shaping up nicely. “Mexican soul, British ingredients” is the slogan for Kol, the new London outpost of Santiago Lastra, the hugely talented chef who launched Noma Mexico for René Redzepi in 2017. It’s slated to open in the centre of town early next year: expect tacos stuffed with foraged herbs and pickled gooseberries, and turbot cooked in corn husks, all masterfully assembled.
Meanwhile, there’s news that the team behind the much praised Noble Rot has acquired the Gay Hussar, on Greek Street, where generations of left-leaning politicos – Nye Bevan and Michael Foot among them – wolfed down sour cherry soup and smoked goose. The menu at Noble Rot Soho will be in the skilled hands of head chef Paul Weaver and consultant Stephen Harris, chef/proprietor of the highly acclaimed Sportsman in Kent: we are promised some “subtle references” to The Gay Hussar’s glory days.
There is a waft of nostalgia, too, about Manzi’s: Chris Corbin and Jeremy King, owners of The Wolseley, The Delaunay and Brasserie Zédel, are reviving the name of the famous old Leicester Square restaurant to attach to their grand new Soho seafood brasserie. Set over two floors, with plenty of natural light and nautically themed decor, the restaurant will be, according to King, “fun and affordable”.
Finally, great news for anyone who shares The Gannet’s (mildly) guilty pleasure: Southern-style barbecue, a taste I satisfied many times at Pitt Cue, the tiny Soho bar and restaurant that opened in 2011, but then expanded and lost its way. I am pleased to report that co-founder Jamie Berger has bought back the name and plans to open a Soho site.
I crave the burnt-end mash with its perfect “bark” (char), the smoky, yielding St Louis ribs, and the “pickle back” – Pitt Cue’s bracing combination of a shot of bourbon and a shot of pickle juice. Its website holding page proudly boasts “Under Old Management”: no more details are forthcoming at the moment, but expect it to open by the summer. Pickle back to the future.