Published 10 January 2022
Catch up on the latest industry news stories of the week from the CODE Bulletin
Sat Bains has announced he’ll be raising prices and stopping mid-week lunch service at his Nottingham restaurant in 2022. The chef follows others in the fine dining world to move away from lunch, which has been sparse in parts of hospitality since Covid – many will remember Michel Roux Jr. doing the same last year following staffing problems and other pandemic-related difficulties. Bains is being positive about the move. Saturday lunches will continue, as will dinner service as before. “Very exciting times and changes are coming in 2022,” he said. “Never stop evolving, striving, growing”. Probably the most noticeable move is the price of Bains’ tasting menus. The £155 ten-course option will be £195 this year. It includes new dishes, new presentation, and will arrive alongside changes to the dining area, bar and lounge. We are likely to see more of this in 2022 as restaurants work to recover from lockdown, restrictions, and customer confidence taking a hammering. The approach is of the mantra that less is more and, cliché as it is, quality over quantity. It makes sense with fewer chefs and front of house about and some customers still tentative about going out. Best of luck to one of the country’s finest.
Happy Face Pizza has expanded to Victoria, filling a void in the area. The new restaurant, in Eccleston Yards, marks the second in the capital for the brand, which prides itself on delivering a “fun and modern take on authentic Neapolitan pizzas”. In an announcement, the team said “Happy Face is a love letter to Italian food”, where pizzas are “renowned for puffy light dough and punchy flavours”. Onto 72-hour fermented dough go combinations such as tomato, mushrooms, mozzarella, taleggio and artichoke, as well as mozzarella, rocket, prosciutto crudo and parmesan. “Extra Happiness” toppings – what these are, we don’t know – to “pimp up your slice” are also available. Okay then.
Tokyo’s Aragawa has been planning a London debut for some time. The steak restaurant, which Forbes has called one of the world’s most expensive, will launch in Mayfair in May, bringing its “legendary” Kobe beef and whole, slow-smoked salmon which is prepared in-house. In Tokyo, diners expect to pay upwards of £400 per head thanks to wagyu beef sourced from revered Tajima-gyu cattle; that meticulous sort of cookery many Japanese chefs are well-known for; and a wine list that practically insists on ordering grand crus from Bordeaux and Bourgogne. The original Aragawa was founded in the late sixties. Its owner Kotaro, together with head chef Kazuo Imayosh, are behind the London manoeuvre.
John and Yee Li are set to launch their first permanent Dumpling Shack in April. The duo, who run an ever-popular stall at Spitalfields Market, have found a spot in London Fields, and also plan to bring their Sichuan Fry concept – also well loved in Hackney and beyond – to the building. Eater said the basement will serve the dumplings, including John and Yee’s “famous, signature pork shengjianbao, prawn wontons, beef dan dan noodles, and spring onion pancakes”, and the ground floor will be dedicated to Sichuan Fry’s fried chicken. The classic chicken sando comes doused in Sichuan sauce and is topped with pickled chillies, smacked cucumber pickles, and sesame slaw.
The burger and beer bar Hub Box is closing its Plymouth city centre restaurant to focus on a new waterfront flagship which is being built at quayside development Royal William Yard. All staff will move to the new site. The move marks continued expansion for the group, which began in St Ives, Cornwall, and now operates 11 restaurants in Cardiff, Bristol, and across the South West. Richard Boon, founder and chief executive of Hub Box, said: “Refurbishing old and historic buildings has long been a passion of ours and is at the heart of the Hub Box ethos. Teamed with our coastal roots, it means Royal William Yard – with its wonderful setting, amazing history and architecture – is the perfect location for our next restaurant.”
The owner of a well-loved neighbourhood restaurant in Manchester has spoken out about the dramatic rise in energy prices. Hip Hop Chip Shop owner Jonathan Oswald said he is having to swallow a £900 per-month increase in rates, which he added, understandably, is proving totally “unsustainable”. The restaurateur talked to the Manchester Evening News about the sudden rise in costs and said: “For it to go up £900 in a month is just completely unsustainable – even £900 a year would be bad. We need electric, everything we have in the bar and restaurant is electric, so we have to have it to keep going – but that means having to serve an extra 100-odd meals just to cover the bill. Energy fluctuates, I understand that, but for it to fluctuate like that I honestly thought it was a mistake.”