5 London Innovators to Note

By Mary Anne Evans  |  January 14, 2014

New ideas, new approaches and new openings are all in a day’s work for London’s innovative restaurateurs who have turned the capital into one of the most exciting restaurant scenes in the world. Here are a few names (and ideas) to look out for in 2014.

  • Tom and Ed Martin

    The Gun, The Jugged Hare and The Botanist in Sloane Square are on every smart gastropub list, and they were all opened by Tom and Ed Martin. The two brothers branched out into mainstream restaurants with the Chiswell Street Dining Room, and then late last year, they opened One Canada Square. Their latest restaurant may cater to the young Turks of the financial giants in Docklands, but it’s not all meat at their ultramodern glass-and-steel restaurant. The Raw Selection epitomizes the current zeitgeist of healthy dining with such dishes as venison carpaccio, steak tartare, smoked wild halibut and yellowfin tartare fresh from nearby Billingsgate Market.

  • Ben Wright and Robin Hancock - The Wright Brothers

    In 2002, the two-man family business owned by the Wright Brothers was delivering oysters to London’s top restaurants like The Ivy and The Wolseley. Then the siblings saw the light. The Wright brothers’ first two ventures - Oyster and Porter House in Borough Market and the Soho Oyster House - raised the bar with top sustainable fish and shellfish produced on the brothers' own Duchy Oyster Farm in Cornwall. Their latest restaurant is an impressive sea-to-plate spectacle: the vast seawater tanks full of live crabs, lobsters and oysters (over 10,000 at them at the last count) awaiting their fate in the new Wright Brothers Old Spitalfields Market are enough to make even Parisians, who are used to the concept, blink.

  • Riz Shaikh and Steve Ball

    The duo who brought us the gastropub Paradise by Way of Kensal Green in deeply unfashionable Kilburn, smart XOYO in Shoreditch and the funky soul shack The Blues Kitchen in Camden are no strangers to opening hip venues in areas that the main movers and shakers have traditionally ignored: Riz Shaikh and Steve Ball are experts at hitting just the right note with their winning combination of cutting-edge live music and cool vibes in surroundings that some call distinctive and others consider downright scruffy. New for 2014 at The Blues Kitchen are the Monday rib-night pop-ups celebrating all-American cooking, which begin on January 20th, starting with Prairie Fire BBQ from Kansas, followed by The Rib Man on the 27th, Grillstock on February 3rd and DJ BBQ on February 10th.

  • Tony Conigliaro

    Tony Conigliaro is to drinking what Heston Blumenthal is to eating: a molecular experimenter. Known for his innovative cocktails at places like Blumenthal’s Fat Duck in Bray, Shochu Lounge, the Zetter Townhouse and the Grain Store - which he launched with Bruno Loubet last year - he now works his magic at his latest venture, the Bar with No Name at 69 Colebrooke Row in Islington. Here he produces ideas like rabbits out of a hat - except he approaches the subject with deadly seriousness and scientific precision. Nowhere else will you find the likes of a Barbershop Fizz, a mix of pine-infused Beefeater Gin, birch-and-vanilla syrup, patchouli-infused mint and lime topped with soda; Terroir - distilled clay, flint and lichen served directly from the bottle; and Avignon, which blends Merlet cognac and chamomile syrup with smoked frankincense.

  • Des Gunewardena and David Loewi

    The D&D group's hugely successful portfolio of restaurants ranges from the Almeida to Orrery, from Le Pont de la Tour to Quaglino’s. But Des Gunewardena and David Loewi know that the business is tough, customers are fickle and their success relies on fresh approaches. In February, look out for the relaunch of Avenue in St. James: all-American style will permeate via Manhattan loft decor, works from new and up-and-coming artists on the walls and contemporary American cooking. Unusual wines are high on the list of 2014 priorities: the Avenue offers Californian Sine Qua Non wines and Washington State’s Cayuse Bionic Frog plus the Coravin wine system, which means you can taste prestigious wines by the glass instead of having to break the bank with the whole bottle.

    In tune with our current passion for sharing, the Blueprint Café is now offering a shared roast dinner, while Sartoria is changing its traditional three-course menu to a selection of small Venetian cicchetti-inspired dishes.