Hoppers has been jammed from the day it opened two years ago, serving a rare find in central London: Sri Lankan cuisine. Diners would wait for up to three hours for a table.
They will soon have a little more breathing room. Hoppers is opening up a second site that can seat as many as 85 across two floors—plus another 16 outside, well over double the 40 seats of the original, cramped venue in Soho.
The second outlet, scheduled to open in early September, will accept reservations—a relief to many who have waited for hours at one of my personal favourite restaurants in Europe.
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“The new site is larger and more comfortable, with a more relaxed vibe,” said Karam Sethi, who co-owns JKS Restaurants, the group behind Hoppers. JKS’s other establishments include Gymkhana and Bao, which are also among London’s most acclaimed restaurants.
The menu will feature new dishes, including Jaffna beef rib fry, and tuna and tapioca cutlets, alongside the curries and other classics from Soho. Sethi estimates that 35% to 40% of the menu will be new, and that the drinks list will be considerably expanded. There will be two bars. Sethi said he expects the average bill to be £25 to £30 a person, compared with £25 at the Soho location.
The ground floor will be decorated in a monochromatic, minimalist style with tropical touches, inspired by the late Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa and his early works on tropical modernism. Guests can pre-book special feasting menus served in four vaulted rooms downstairs, with prices starting at £28. At lunch, there will be a rice plate with five or six dishes on it for about £15.
Hoppers took 13th place in the UK National Restaurant Awards Top 100.
At the original Hoppers, once the dining room fills, customers are placed in a virtual queuing system called Qudini and texted as a table becomes available. Sethi said he serves about 300 guests a day, six days a week, and there can be 35 to 40 parties on the waiting list for tables early each evening.
Article by Richard Vines, chief food critic at Bloomberg