Inaki Aizpitarte, one of the most feted chefs in France, plans to open a restaurant in London’s Mayfair.
Aizpitarte, best-known for his Paris bistro Le Chateaubriand, is scheduled to open Le Chabanais on Mount Street in February or March. It will be an informal establishment, without tablecloths or carpets, serving a menu that will change each day, based on available ingredients.
“I love London,” Aizpitarte said in a telephone interview. “It’s close to Paris and yet different at the same time. The UK has some of the best produce and the food scene is changing and it’s real. Before, no one was talking about English food.”
It will be the first restaurant outside Paris for the Basque chef, who was born in Besancon, France. Aizpitarte, 42, is admired by other chefs for his creativity. Le Chateaubriand placed 27th in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards in April.
The new restaurant, which takes its name from a luxurious Belle Epoque brothel, will seat about 90 people on the ground floor. There will also be a downstairs bar, probably with a menu similar to Le Dauphin, Aizpitarte’s bar next to Le Chateaubriand.
Le Chabanais is a collaboration between Varun Talreja and the Leela hotel group with Aizpitarte and his partners Franck Audoux and Laurent Cabut. Kevin Lansdown, former general manager of Scott’s in Mayfair will oversee the restaurant. Le Chateaubriand’s head chef, Paul Boudier, will be in charge of the kitchen.
“The idea is to take the food of Le Chateaubriand and to do it here with an accessible a la carte menu and using local produce,” Lansdown said in an interview on the site at 8 Mount Street. He said Aizpitarte wants to bring people from outside the West End of London to dine in Mayfair.
“It’s something of an insurgency, bringing the 10th Arrondissement of Paris, Brooklyn, Shoreditch, Hackney, Clerkenwell into Mayfair, which people have historically avoided because the restaurants were often so formal and so expensive.
‘‘If you look at the guys now opening the Dairy and Trinity in Clapham, the Bistro Union people, people are carrying that more serious food in smaller environments to the suburbs. The center of London is missing out on new developments in dining.’’
He said he expected diners on average to spend about 80 pounds ($125) to 85 pounds a head, including wine and service, compared with 95 pounds at Scott’s, along the street.
Aizpitarte cited St John and the Sportsman as UK restaurants that have inspired him. He also chose London because its proximity to Paris means he will be able to spend time at the restaurant while still being based at Le Chateaubriand.
He is one of a group of young chefs whose informal restaurants and creative cooking are known as bistronomy. His dishes reflect a range of influences, from Asia to South America. In his cooking, he generally features a minimal number of ingredients to produce maximum flavour.
Le Chabanais has been designed by Clement Blanchet, the architect responsible for the Serpentine Summer Pavilion in 2006 in London’s Hyde Park.
Bloomberg News, edited by Hospitality Ireland