W1 has long deserved its reputation as the hottest epicentre of London fine dining. Boasting eateries such as SexyFish, Roka and Amazonico, Mayfair restaurants have rightfully remained at the top of most city diner’s wishlist when it comes to a gourmet dining experience. However, heightened by the far reaching effects of the pandemic, the London Suburbs have quickly become host to many interesting new dining experiences as some of the capital’s greatest culinary talent ventures further away from the traditional centre.
The Restaurant Property team first reported on the culinary migration towards the suburbs back in 2017, when only one of the “most significant” openings of the 12 months prior had been in Mayfair. Back then, Harden’s Co-editor Richard Harden pointed to the regeneration of previously tired areas as a major driver of new premium restaurants opening up, to complement the trendy bars and desirable property developments appearing.
Fast-forward to 2021, and this migrationary trend has been kicked into overdrive. Regeneration is still a key topic for the incumbent London Mayor, however the key catalyst for the recent hubbub in the suburban restaurant scene has been driven by possibly the largest pandemic-driven cultural shift; the rise in working from home.
With almost half (43%) of Londoners completing at least part of their work from home, up from 31% in 2019, a dynamic shift in eating habits should come as no surprise. Whether it be executive deals celebrated over a liquid lunch, team celebrations at the hottest new locations or the awkward first date between coworkers, the work culture of central London has often intertwined with the exclusive restaurant scene of W1.
As much of this workplace culture has been dissipated around the zones of the capital, so too have some of the most in-demand, on-trend chefs and dining experiences. Hot new openings such as Brindisa in Richmond and Notting Hill’s Sunday in Brooklyn bring elite dining opportunities to new locations, whereas just a few years ago this type of dining experience would have been receiving their mail to a W1 postcode.
Whilst the Zoom-era of team bonding can thankfully be left behind in the pandemic era, operators of the new restaurants around the suburbs will be confident that home working is here to stay. The success of early movers such as Hacha in Brixton will breed confidence for fellow restaurateurs to follow suit into expanding into the hot new suburbs.
None of this is to say that W1 won’t retain its crown as the hottest go-to destination for the ultimate dining experience. New openings such as MiMi Mei Fair, the revered Chinese culinary experience led by Chinese-Singaporean Executive Chef Peter Ho shows that the traditional heart of British fine dining still prides itself on being in Mayfair, where exquisite luxury meets contemporary eclecticism.
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