The celebrated chef’s UK plans include the launch of what he describes as the first restaurant to only be staffed by chefs and sommeliers – Social Wine and Tapas, which opens on Marylebone’s James Street in June – and the creation of a restaurant within a restaurant at his Japanese concept Sosharu.
Social Wine and Tapas, a collaboration between Atherton and Laure Patry, executive group head sommelier at Social Restaurant Group, will serve a selection of rare and fine wines alongside a tapas and snacks menu, created by head chef Frankie Van Loo, formerly of Social Eating House.
Set across two floors, and taking inspiration from the wine shops and bars of Paris, the ground floor will house a wine shop and tapas bar, which will have an open kitchen with a dining counter and wine tasting table for 10, with a more intimate basement bar below. Plans for this include ensuring it smells of red wine to give guests the impression that they are walking into a long-established wine cellar and wine lessons being played through speakers in the toilets.
Sosharu, meanwhile, located in the Turnmills building in Clerkenwell, is being headed up by chef Alex Craciun, formerly of Pollen Street Social.
Opening in November, the restaurant will focus on creating a social Japanese dining experience “using British ingredients with Japanese sensibilities,” says Atherton, and will serve teppanyaki, robatayaki and sashimi.
“There will be no sushi because it is such a strict discipline and we don’t want to go into those realms, and no ramen because every Tom, Dick and Harry is opening a ramen place,” he says.
In addition, Sosharu – which loosely translates as ‘social’ in Japanese – will house a separate 15-cover restaurant in the style of Kitchen Table in Marylebone and Brooklyn Fare in New York. This will have its own entrance and serve a 10-course menu for 15 covers at lunch and 30 at dinner.
Paul Hood, head chef at Social Eating House, meanwhile, will head up yet another new restaurant in the Land Securities Nova development in London’s Victoria. The as yet unnamed Italian restaurant due to open next year, will feature a pasta room where diners will be able to see the food being made.
Within the next 18 months, Atherton also plans to close Pollen Street Social for three months for a complete refurbishment. Proposed changes include removing the central island in the dining room as well as the showpiece dessert bar and extending the kitchen into the space. The downstairs kitchen area is to be turned into a large wine cellar where guests can taste their wines before dinner, and the upstairs bar will be converted into an Italy-inspired barista area where guests can retire to after their meal.
Atherton is also opening a restaurant in The Edition hotel in New York on 11 May, with Ross Bryans, formerly of Pollen Street Social, heading up the kitchen, as well as launching Kensington Street Social in Sydney in July.