Published 17 January 2022
Catch up on the latest industry news stories of the week from the CODE Bulletin
It will be interesting to see how Claude Bosi does bistro food given he’s dedicated so much of his career to fine dining, most recently at the multi award-winning Bibendum. With the restaurateur Samyukta Nair – Jamavar, Bombay Bustle, MiMi to name a few – the chef will open a neighbourhood restaurant in the former Richoux site on South Audley Street in the summer. Socca will pay tribute to the coastal towns of Cannes, Marseille, and Nice, “with an emphasis on French-Mediterranean style dishes and wines by the glass.” Richoux, a once thriving cafe dating back to 1909, will provide a dutiful home. It will be transformed into a “modern bistro” that draws “inspiration from French establishments such as La Columbe d’Or”, Bosi and Nair say. The menu will feature dishes from Bosi’s childhood in the South of France; the room will be warmly lit with scallop shell lights; diners will sit on curved wood and probably order rosé from Provence. We are hoping for charming, rustic cooking at Socca and Bosi himself has said there will be “delicate simplicity” to enjoy. There are too few of these restaurants in London today, not least in Mayfair, and how refreshing it will be to witness tradition transpire.
It was tremendously disheartening to see the Shampers team announce this month that the Soho wine bar would be closing after 43 years. The term “institution” is bandied around too readily these days – as we all know – but it would not be out of place when talking about the place, where such efficacious delights as grilled squid and duck confit arrived with wines of a value rarely found in the West End. It is also increasingly unlikely in London to find somewhere with such experience in its ranks – the owners had run the place for three decades. “It is a privilege to have been part of the West End for so many years, and to have fed and watered such a wide cross section of people from so many different walks of life,” they said on Instagram.
The Sea The Sea will begin selling fish at wholesale prices at The Seafood Bar in Hackney on Saturdays between 10am and 2pm. The idea, Alex Hunter told CODE, is to reduce waste. Fresh fish from Devon, Cornwall, and occasionally Scotland is delivered to the London operator each morning before being sold in the shop or used at the bar or at the Chelsea restaurant. Hunter said while the team already looks to use everything available, selling whatever’s left on Saturday will reduce wastage further. It will also allow anyone willing to venture to the site on Saturday mornings the chance to buy top seafood around 30 per cent cheaper, thereby increasing accessibility, which is a happy bonus.
The Japanese mega chain Marugame Udon already had well over 1,000 sites around the world before it opened its first in London last year. The Guardian critic Grace Dent was decidedly impressed when she visited in September, praising its affordability, its battered eggs, and grouping it with the likes of Ikea’s restaurant, which has long been a hit in the UK. Expect to see a lot more of the new chain spring up over the coming years. The next two will launch in St Christopher’s Place and Canary Wharf next month. It’s true the pandemic has hurt independents more than big brands, but those back in the office would be foolish not to pop down to Marugame Udon for a cheap bowl of decent noodles.
Nathan Outlaw is expanding his Cornish restaurant empire with the purchase of the Stargazy Inn in Port Isaac. The chef bought the pub, a former rival just a fish-throw away from his flagship Outlaw’s New Road, from restaurateurs David and Jackie Barnard for £1.85 million and has ambitious plans. He told Cornwall Live: “Over the last seven years I’ve been gazing at the property… dreaming that one day we could get our hands on [it] and now we have the keys. We are so excited to have brought such a great place and can’t wait to get going with Outlaw’s Guesthouse.” A name change? Curious. Then again, Stargazy Pie, surely the inspiration behind the inn’s name, was invented 60 miles away in Mousehole.
London’s dog-friendly avocado haven Megan’s is stepping up with plans to move further into the provinces with a new site in Guildford, Propel first reported. Already there are openings lined up in Welwyn Garden City, Kingston, and Marlow, and the Surrey capital, perpetually devoid of pretty much anything of note beyond the best leisure centre in the world, would make a lot of sense. We suspect Megan’s would do tremendously well there, just as The Ivy Brasserie has proven a hit outside London. How long until Megan’s owner Sarah Hills goes to Basingstoke? Or Swindon?
Bill Granger is to open a new Granger & Co restaurant in Marylebone this year. It will be the Australian chef’s fifth London site, and comes just over a decade since his first. Granger’s relaxed, all-day menus are a mainstay of the capital today, and he said he’s looking forward to finding new customers. “We’ve been looking for a location in Marylebone since we moved to London over 12 years ago, and now we’ve finally found it in the very-much-loved Maison Sagne site, that is dear to so many people,” he said. “I know we will recreate some magic, especially in the surprise double-height atrium space that the front opens up to, bringing joy to all those who first visited with their grandparents as kids. And of course lots of new visitors too!”
Last year’s Roux Scholarship winner Oli Williamson has been promoted to head chef at the Fat Duck in Bray. Williamson, 31, formerly head chef at the Clove Club, has earned the position just two years after joining as pastry sous in December 2020, and will work with the restaurant’s executive chef Edward Cooke on creating new dishes. Williamson told The Caterer. “It’s exciting and a bit surreal. I’m super grateful and humbled to be at this point in my career where I can take on a restaurant as prestigious as this. People keep telling me it’s the collective years you put in, those hard times you go through when you’re working really hard when you’re young, that comes to this one moment. I feel fortunate to have worked so hard and got to this position.”