The Handbook
The Handbook

The ‘great reopening’ is upon us as restaurants, pubs and bars fling open their doors again and start serving, pulling pints and taking down our names and addresses to pass on to the contact tracers… But they  won’t all be opening.

Sadly coronavirus has seen some restaurants close their doors permanently, restaurants we loved, and while they may leave short-lived gaps on the high street they’ll leave far more long-lasting gaps in our hearts.

It’s impossible not to be moved close to tears, writing about losing some restaurants so familiar we knew the staff, the chefs and about half the fellow diners. We’re so sad to see them go, and especially think of the staff at such an uncertain time, and wish fond farewell to…

Le Caprice

One of the highest profile losses, Le Caprice on St James’s Arlington Street, did not reopen on July 4th.

The restaurant occupies a special place in my memory as it’s where managers would take us, in my first job, when we received promotions or bonuses. And it lived up to the hype as the favourite hangout of Princess Di and Elizabeth Taylor, not to mention half of the nation’s a-listers.

There’s some chat of it reopening in a new location, but in any case 38 years of history has come to a close.

Where: 20 Arlington Street, St Jame’s, SW1A 1RJ
Website: www.le-caprice.co.uk

Indian Accent

In a sign of things to come, Indian Accent has blamed up-coming social distancing rules as the last straw for the Albermarle Street restaurant. Realistically there’s little way such an intimate restaurant could operate 2m distancing.

Small but perfectly formed, I enjoyed the best Indian meal I have ever eaten at Chef Manish Mehrotra’s Indian Accent. The tasting menu, with sublime wine pairings, was utterly perfect.

Mayfair, and anyone who loves incredible food, will be far poorer without this small but brilliant restaurant.

Where: 16 Albemarle Street, Mayfair, W1S 4HW
Website: www.indianaccent.com

HIX Oyster & Chop House

One of the earliest losses of the pandemic, Hix Restaurants called in the administrators back in April against the wishes of the eponymous owner.

Including Tramshed and HIX Oyster & Chop House (HIX Soho shut in December), the group known for great modern art and even better food is no more.

Mark Hix has since bought a van from eBay and has spent lockdown selling fish across Dorset.

Where: 36-37 Greenhill Rents, Cowcross Street, Farringdon, EC1M 6BN
Website: www.hixrestaurants.co.uk

Wahlburgers

Wahlburgers was more than a vaguely amusing pun. Named after Hollywood actor  turned fast food businessman Mark Wahlburg (and his co-owner brothers Paul and Donnie), the American chain opened its first European operation in Covent Garden just a few months ago.

Reportedly already struggling before the pandemic struck, Wahlburgers have cited lower footfall than expected as the reason for their closure.

Where: 8-9 James Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 8BH
Website: www.wahlburgers.com

Eat

This one might have passed you by, Eat (the sandwich shop that’s literally everywhere (normally next to a Pret)) has quietly slipped into oblivion.

We’ll miss their pies. Ironically they were bought by Pret last summer, who had already earmarked many of its restaurants for conversion into Veggie Prets, but the timing of the closures is nevertheless driven by  coronavirus.

Anyone desperate for their Eat fix can travel to Gare du Nord in Paris where the café will continue to operate…

Where: Various (95!) locations
Website: www.eat.co.uk

The Ledbury

Two Michelin Stars is no protection against the ravages of the economic slump facing the UK.

Notting Hill stalwart and celeb hangout The Ledbury has, surprisingly, handed redundancy notices to staff and Chef/owner Brett Graham has announced that the restaurant can’t reopen given social distancing measures and the expected dearth of tourists this summer.

This one knocked us for six, it’s a huge loss and we’re so sorry to see Graham pack up his stars and leave.

Where: 127 Ledbury Road, Notting Hill, W11 2AQ
Website: www.theledbury.com

Rivington

In all the fanfare at the loss of Le Caprice, another Caprice Holdings closure flew under the radar this week as Rivington in Greenwich announced it wouldn’t be reopening.

A favourite brunch spot, the restaurant will be missed. Not as much as Le Caprice, but still…

Where: 78 Greenwich High Road, Greenwich, SE10 8NN
Website: www.rivingtongreenwich.co.uk

Ugly Butterfly

Adam Handling’s Ugly Butterfly, a zero-waste recent opening, will not reopen.

The Chelsea restaurant took leftovers and by-products from Handling’s nearby restaurant at the Belmond Cadogan on Sloane Street (itself brilliant, we can’t wait to get back there).

Clearly this supply has dried up, leaving Ugly Butterfly doubly exposed during these unprecedented times.

Where: 55 King’s Road, Chelsea, SW3 4ND
Website: www.uglybutterfly.co.uk

Siren at The Goring

Nathan Outlaw had literally just arrived at The Goring when he retreated back to Cornwall, shuttering Siren for good.

Mentions to the restaurant have already been expunged from The Goring’s website, but the seafood restaurant was gaining traction and it’s a shame to lose it.

The Goring is planning to reduce its food and drink offering and apparently didn’t see the sense in keeping Outlaw’s offering alongside its own Michelin Starred restaurant.

Where: 15 Beeston Place, Belgravia, SW1W 0JW
Website: www.thegoring.com

Texture

Scandi restaurant Texture was lovely in its simplicity and style, not to mention menu, but Agnar Sverrisson has reportedly pulled the plug.

With Sverrisson back in Iceland, the Marylebone restaurant is one of the most high profile losses to date.

Where: 34 Portman Street, Marylebone, W1H 7BY
Website: www.texture-restaurant.co.uk

The Frog Hoxton

Adam Handling’s The Frog Hoxton has croaked. The cool East London restaurant combined a chilled-out vibe with fabulous cooking.

It was brilliant, another masterpiece unhung. The only glimmer of hope, a promise from Handling to reopen in a new location at some point…

Where: 45-47 Hoxton Square, Hackney, N1 6PD
Website: www.thefroghoxton.com

Tramshed

Another HIX brilliance. Occupying a former East End tram-generator building, right in the heart of Shoreditch, Tramshed will be remembered for all the right reasons.

The food, obviously, but also the massive Damien Hirst Cock ‘n’ Bull installation looming over diners as they enjoyed his simple chicken and steak dishes.

Gosh, we’ll miss it.

Where: 32 Rivington Street, EC2A 3LX
Website: www.hixrestaurants.co.uk

Cereal Killer Cafe

London is a city that has everything, that is unless you were hoping for a £5 bowl of Golden Grahams. In which case you’re outta luck as the controversial Cereal Killer Cafe (which somehow had two outposts, on Brick Lane and in Camden) isn’t reopening with the rest of hospitality.

Taking to social media, the twin founders announced “After 5.5 years we will be saying Cheerio to our Cafes, for now”. The café sparked fierce debates over gentrification when they opened in 2014.

We’ll not just have to go to the supermarket cereal aisle like everyone else…

Where: Brick Lane and Camden Market
Website:
www.cerealkillercafe.co.uk