With the ever-changing traffic light system in place, and the possibility of another 10 days stuck at home with your family following any trip abroad, it’s no surprise that the faff of overseas travel is decidedly off the menu for many of us this summer. If you’re looking to conjure up a little bit of holiday magic closer to home to satisfy your wanderlust, try these five new UK restaurant openings.
Ave Mario, London
It’s big! It’s bright! It’s bold! It must be the latest arrival from Big Mamma. Ave Mario, now open at Covent Garden’s Henrietta Street, is set to quickly gain cult popularity alongside its sister sites: kitsch trattoria Gloria’s in Shoreditch, and the vast and anything-but-understated Circolo Popolare. Pack your sunglasses and take a trip to Florence – the city that is said to have been the inspiration for the site. In this restaurant group, size matters. Step inside the 7,000 sq ft wonderland, featuring three terraces, a natural indoor courtyard, a decadent main room, with green and white duomo stripes aplenty, and a mirrored basement. Menu-wise, head chef Andrea Zambrano is promising the “pillowiest pizza”, created using the traditional Biga method of pre-fermenting the dough. The dolci will no doubt be the main draw for snap-happy influencers queueing around the block, though, as a 60cm stracciatella marbled cake is sure to become a signature draw.
Ave Mario, 15 Henrietta St, London WC2E 8QG | bigmammagroup.com
El Pastor, London
If that trip to Isla Holbox is off the cards but you still want to soak up a bit of Mexican heat, the latest El Pastor taqueria in Soho will be turning up the temperature – literally! Humidified air and a control in the entrance will ensure the inside is a couple of degrees warmer. Overhead fans will be set on low to encourage visitors to take it down a pace, and the aroma of cooking masa dough will be pumped through the air to alter the scent. These guys know their guac from their gringos. Order some cerveza and get stuck in. New dishes for this site include the Baja California scallop tostada and a sharing dish of spiced crispy duck tacos with charred habanero and pineapple salsa. If you’re into your mezcal, head to the downstairs Mezcaleria El Colmillo bar named after the nightclub the owners ran in the Nineties and Noughties in Mexico City, and get involved in an abundance of agave.
El Pastor, 66-70 Brewer St, Soho, London W1F 9UP | tacoselpastor.co.uk
Is there anything more Moorish (pun intended) than Middle Eastern food? Fresh lavosh bread, spiced aubergine, pink beetroot hummus, whipped labneh. I could go on and on, or just keep reading and ordering from the menu at the newly opened Middle Eastern bar and restaurant Habas. Celebrated restaurateur Simon Shaw, of El Gato Negro fame (acclaimed Spanish restaurants in Liverpool and Leeds), is behind this new hangout and he has filled the former wine cellar of this subterranean space with furnishings he’s collected on his travels across the vast region. Marvel at his Persian rugs and vintage ceramics as you transport yourself to the Levant, against the terracotta tiled and exposed brick surroundings in this Tel Aviv-meets-Manchester scene.
Habas, 43A Brown St, Manchester M2 2JJ | habas.co.uk
If you’re missing those beautiful Mediterranean meals where your seafood’s origin can be spotted minutes away up the coast, then take a trip to Catch at the Old Fish Market in Weymouth this summer. Priding themselves on sea-to-plate dining, all their fish is sourced hyper-locally and sustainably with the majority of the town’s fleet using lines, nets, and pots only – producing very little in the way of by-catch or discards. Over 40 species can be found on our magnificent Dorset coast, from Portland crab and lobster to sea bass, pollack, netted sole and turbot, many of which you’ll find on the daily changing menu. The setting is unique, too, housed in the grade II-listed Old Fish Market building, part of the working quayside. Catch has plans to hit zero food waste, with even discarded crab and lobster shells being reused as organic fertiliser for local farms. Executive chef Mike Naidoo leads the team, fresh from London’s Michelin-starred Pollen Street Social.
Catch at the Old Fish Market, 1 Custom House Quay, Weymouth Harbour DT4 4BE | catchattheoldfishmarket.com
If it looks like backpacking around Asia may be on the backburner, save up your pennies instead and head to HUÅ in Chelsea, showcasing a wealth of high-end Asian food with an emphasis on clean eating. From Singapore vermicelli noodles to Vietnamese pho, classic Chinese crispy aromatic duck and Thai jungle curry, you can take a trip around the continent without leaving your table. Bleached timber banquettes seat six people just like the good old days, and natural light and tropical plants offer a fresh and airy backdrop to enjoy head chef Yam Bahadur Gurung’s food. Over at the bar, you can sip Asian Negronis made with Bombay Sapphire gin, vermouth, Campari, and sake, alongside some unusual Japanese whiskies. Best of all, once your meal is finished you can return to the comfort of your own bed, no bamboo huts or tie-dye outfits in sight. Shame; maybe next year?
HUÅ, 9 Park Walk, London SW10 0AJ | huo.london