Jean-Georges Vongerichten, one of New York’s most acclaimed chefs, plans to open an informal restaurant at the Connaught hotel in London in the first half of next year.
Vongerichten returns to London as an increasing number of U.S. chefs are opening establishments in the city. The Mayfair restaurant, still unnamed, will serve breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner in the space currently occupied by the Espelette brasserie.
“We want to do something comfortable and chic, but casual so it is a neighbourhood place,” Vongerichten said in an interview. “The food will be simple and approachable: Farm-to-table dining similar to what I do at the Mark and ABC Kitchen in New York, only with English ingredients. You have some of the best produce in the world here.”
The French-born chef, who owns the three-Michelin-star Jean-Georges in New York, as well as establishments around the world, is no stranger to London. He won a Michelin star when he spent a year at 90 Park Lane restaurant in the mid-1980s.
Vongerichten returned in London in 1995 to open Vong restaurant at the Berkeley. That property belongs to Maybourne Hotel Group, owners of the Connaught. Vong closed in 2002. He opened Spice Market at the W hotel in 2011, but that was part of an international chain that he subsequently sold. Spice Market has since closed.
“When I first came to London, the dining scene was mainly in hotels, but it is more like New York now,” he said. “It is very competitive. But London is a big city and there is room for more restaurants. If you have the right food, the right atmosphere, the right location and the right prices, you can do well.”
His new restaurant will run alongside the two-Michelin-star Helene Darroze at the Connaught, a hotel that traces its history to 1815. Espelette will close for a few months while architect John Heah creates a new dining room with its own entrance onto the street and a new staircase down to a revamped kitchen.
Vongerichten said he expects to serve uncomplicated dishes, such as langoustines with a beautiful sauce, and possibly a black Angus hamburger.
Article by Richard Vines, chief food critic at Bloomberg.