The ‘great reopening’ is coming, 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…
One of the highest profile losses, Le Caprice on St James’s Arlington Street, did not reopen after the first lockdown.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Café de Paris
The iconic surroundings of Café de Paris will not be unveiled after lockdown for the first time in nearly a century. Opened in 1924 and famously open during the second world war, it took lockdown to close it, and covid to deliver the final blow.
The club, never anything if not outrageous and fun, will be sorely missed, and announced the closure in December.
Where: 3-4 Coventry Street, West End, W1D 6BL
Everything that mixologist Mr Lyan, AKA Ryan Chetiyawardana, touches turns to success, but even Midas himself couldn’t save Cub.
Chetiyawardana’s Lyaness is still going strong, and the Cub site will remain in the empire, but the restaurant which focussed on all things sustainable (the tables were made from yoghurt pots!) and was founded in partnership with chef Doug McMaster wasn’t able to make it through.
Where: 153 Hoxton Street, Hoxton, N1 6PJ
It’s always a tragedy when dogs are put down, especially when they’re not dogs but Bubbledogs, a hotdog and Champagne bar in Bloomsbury.
It’s been replaced by Bubbleshop by Sandia Chang, an online Champagne store but it’s hardly the same. On the upside, Bubbledogs demise has given sister restaurant, Michelin starred Kitchen Table, room to expand.
Where: 70 Charlotte Street, Bloomsbury, W1T 4QG
Clapham has lost a gem in The Dairy. A favourite, it was always going to struggle in a world of social distancing given its bijou footprint.
Which is a shame because the Richard Gill 14-seat restaurant was lovely. Thankfully it’s whack-a-moled over in Bermondsey, so all is not lost.
Where: 15 The Pavement, Clapham Old Town, SW4 0HY
Herman Ze German
Adding Herman Ze German to this list really was the wurst. After a night in the West End, Herman Ze German was the perfect place to pop and buy a beer, fries and a brilliant curry wurst.
Purveyors of authentic German sausage combos, the Old Compton Street restaurant was a delight, and was followed by outlets in White City, Charing Cross and Fitzrovia. It will be genuinely missed.
Where: 33 Old Compton Street, Soho, W1D 5JU
Chef Alex Dilling took to Instagram back in June to announce that The Greenhouse would not reopen, taking its two Michelin starred down with it.
Fellow restaurants Mortons, Umu and The Square sank amid financial difficulties back in February 2020, well before Covid became a concern. But it was still a shame to hear that The Greenhouse had gone the same way.
Where: 27A Hay’s Mews, Mayfair, W1J 5NY
Shoreditch’s Ace Hotel has sadly closed. The first Ace Hotel outside of America, there are rumours of another iteration coming our way, but in the meantime the famous lobby, an East London hangout for anyone who was anyone, will remain chained shut.
And with the hotel goes Hoi Polloi, the hotel’s restaurant billed as a ‘modern brasserie’ was arguably East London’s top brunch spot.
Where: 100 Shoreditch High Street, Shoreditch, E1 6JQ
Andrew Wong just won a second Michelin Star for A Wong, but not everything went to plan. The gorgeous Kym’s didn’t make it.
The Bloomberg Arcade high-end Chinese restaurant wasn’t able to make it through to the end of September, despite a great aesthetic and the Wong’s expertise going for it. Much of what made Kym’s exceptional is on offer over at Pimlico A Wong, but it’s another shame.
Where: 19 Bloomberg Arcade, London EC4N 8AR
Milk & Honey
The government’s pledge to follow the science came undone at the seams with the inexplicable 10pm curfew. In a kack-handed attempt to reduce alcohol consumption (itself unscientific) the curfew forced drinkers onto public transport or to congregate in the streets and likely caused tens of thousands of infections. But the policy fail was also the final nail in the coffin of Milk & Honey.
The late night speakeasy bar relied on post-restaurant late night trade and this was deemed illegal under the bizarre diktat.
Farewell a stalwart of the West End hospitality scene, a completely unnecessary loss.
Where: 61 Poland Street, Soho, W1F 7NU
Roux at Parliament Square
I’m frankly kicking myself. I’ve been meaning to eat here for years but something always comes up. And now I never will.
The restaurant, run by telly chef Michel Roux Jr quietly shut up shop in early December and will be remembered as one of the smartest eateries close to parliament.
Where: 1 Great George Street, Westminster, SW1P 3AD