Luke Blackall: No one's told London's restaurateurs about the crisis

Man About Town: The Balthazaar brasserie concept so beloved of the New York media set is coming to London

The country, the continent, the world is in financial crisis. So say the newspapers, the TV channels and the politicians. You're probably sick of hearing about it. I know I am. I only bring it up as it seems no one has told the restaurateurs of London.

It occurred to me as I went to the launch of 34 Grosvenor Square, the new venue from Richard Caring, who owns, among other things, The Ivy, Cipriani and Scott's.

Like his other venues, it was obvious that a substantial amount of money had been spent on 34. Martin Brudnizki, one of the world's leading interior designers, helped convert it from anonymous offices to a luxurious bistro of days gone by. There will be live music every night and on the opening evening, each guest left with a menu complete with a Tracey Emin print.

It occurred to me, as I had breakfast at Harrods new tea room (yes, I'm aware of what I sound like), where business in the store's 26 restaurants is booming, that if these were the only restaurants to open, you might admire their courage. But far from it.

This summer, Wolfgang Puck, US chef and restaurant mogul, opened Cut on Park Lane. Like Cut, 34 is also in the business of persuading people to part with up to £84 for (admittedly excellent) steak. This week Chris Corbin and Jeremy King, the team behind the Wolseley are launching their next project a big European café - The Delaunay. Meanwhile, another guest at Wednesday's dinner was Keith McNally, the US restaurateur, who is bringing the Balthazaar brasserie concept so beloved of the New York media set to London. There are many more still to come.

At the top end, people are still spending money. And, I'm told, many of the wealthy caught up in the crises in North Africa and southern Europe see London as a safe place to stash their cash. But other, more mid-market venues keep springing up too. At Bristol's Harbourside, Za Za Bazaar is soon to open, which with room for 1,000 diners, promises to be the country's biggest restaurant.

Back in 2008, a manager of a top London restaurant told me that some restaurateurs believe a recession is a good thing for their industry as it weeds out the bad places. But today the bad places still seem to be there, along with the good, and all the while they are being joined by a steady stream of new places. You wonder has no one told them about the economy. Or is there something they're not telling us?

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Have you been doing a brilliant job in an admi...

Surrey County Council: Senior Project Officer (Fixed Term to Feb 2019)

£26,498 - £31,556: Surrey County Council: We are looking for an outgoing, conf...

Recruitment Genius: Interim Head of HR

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you an innovative, senior H...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources and Payroll Administrator

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client, a very well respect...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?