London’s food scene may be world class but come summer time there is an obvious gap in the market for al fresco dining. The problem is, at least in part, architectural; there isn’t much room for rooftop terraces and pavement cafés in ancient Soho, for instance. But new developments across the capital are acknowledging the fact that London’s summers can lend themselves to outdoor eating that city dwellers love to eat outside when it’s part of a new dining experience. Here are a few such new openings to look out for this spring.
Vinegar Yard, London Bridge
If you were planning on walking from Borough Market to Maltby Street Ropewalk but were worried about getting ravenous on the way then fear not, Vinegar Yard has you covered. This open-air market promises casual dining of the communal bench on astro-turf variety from the people behind nearby Flat Iron Square. Food options include Sugo for ciabatta sandwiches, Up in My Grill for Argentine style steaks, and Baba G’s whose pachos (popadom nachos) and naanwhiches (you get the idea) are already beloved of regulars at Pop Brixton. Fresh juices and risottos will be supplied by Turnips, the Borough Market grocers who are the go-to people for quality veg south of the river.
Craft beer, proper coffee courtesy of the Gentlemen Baristas, and a vintage/maker’s market at weekends are all present and correct, as are installations from resident artists and Glastonbury veteran Joe Rush. This new arrival is the latest in a series of developments which will probably see every sliver of ground between Bermondsey and Waterloo filled with a tightly packed matrix of street food traders – culinary heaven.
Allegra, Olympic Park, Stratford – Opens June 2019
Patrick Powell, former head chef of celebrity stalker favourite Chiltern Firehouse, is bringing sky garden dining to the 7th floor of Manhattan Loft Gardens in Stratford. If you’re wondering what a ‘sky garden’ is, picture fresh herbs grown on the roof next to the tables and an outdoor grill to complement its panoramic views. Said grill will supply open-air diners with heritage ribeye and whole roast chickens stuffed with garlic sausage amongst other dishes. The main restaurant – open to the summer elements via retractable glass walls – will offer farm-to-fork cooking in a modern European style. An eight-course tasting menu will be available along with plenty of on-trend arrangements of seafood and pickled delights like mackerel tartare and salted cucumber with buttermilk and apple. Starters are expected to come in from £12 while mains will be between £22 and £35. Will it rival Chiltern Firehouse as a venue for heated discussions about whether that lady at the next table over is actually Gwyneth Paltrow? Only time will tell.
Parrillan – Coal Drops Yard, Kings Cross – Opens May 10th 2019
The newest member the Barrafina family opened in Kings Cross last October, bringing the Hart Brother’s tapas par excellence to the newly regenerated area. Londoners went, they queued, they instagrammed pictures of that big red prawn that costs £15, they wanted more. This May will see the opening of Parrillan, a covered space for 100 diners attached to the existing restaurant with an emphasis on outdoor grilling. Various snacks such as Cantabrian anchovies and salmojero will support a menu of meat, seafood and vegetables which guests will be invited to cook over individual charcoal grills. Expected to feature are vegetable parrillada, Middlewhite pork chops, the aforementioned scarlet prawn, and those milk fed lamb’s kidneys famed of the Barrafina over on Adelaide street. Prices will range from £5-£18 per item.
Those uncomfortable with the walk-in only format popularised by the original Barrafina will be relieved to hear the new opening will accept bookings, though they’re probably also the sort to balk at the idea of barbecuing their own dinner.
Darby’s – Opens May 2019
Anyone living in SW4 has chef Robin Gill to thank for enlivening the restaurant scene in Clapham with his restaurants the Dairy, Counter Culture, and Sorella. His latest venture, at Embassy Gardens in Nine Elms, is a venue with outdoor seating from which to take in the sun and, eventually, a view of the clear-walled sky pool suspended 10 storeys above. The restaurant will feature its own bakery and butchery, and just to make sure Gill and his team are kept busy it will also offer house-made charcuterie and vermouth.
When it is completed, Darby’s will also serve pizza and pasta to bathers at the sky pool which will stretch between two buildings at Embassy Gardens. The space will be open to residents only so the best course of action for many will be befriending someone who lives at the development or smuggling yourself inside in a sack of 00 flour.