The Foley Street site is expected to open at the end of April for outdoor dining on a 25-cover south-facing terrace before opening fully as early as May.
Founded by ex-lawyer David Toscano with head chef Jamie Halsall in 2016, Cin Cin operates two restaurants in Brighton and Hove - a diminutive site in the city’s North Laine area and a larger restaurant in Hove with a more expansive menu that launched in 2018.
Toscano has been looking to grow the Cin Cin brand for the last few years but says the deal for the Fitzrovia site happened quickly following a chance conversation with Bonnie Gull co-founder Alex Hunter, who is a minority investor in Cin Cin.
“We’ve had a surprisingly good 2020 because whenever we were open our places were full and when we weren’t we had a delivery service to fall back on,” says Toscano. “In fact, during this most recent lockdown we had some weeks in which we did more covers than we would have been able to do in the restaurants.”
“Of course, the big question mark is how quickly people will come back into central London. But at least Fitzrovia has a village feel with some residential density. And the BBC being round the corner should also help,” he adds.
Toscano says he will initially only make cosmetic changes to the 20-cover corner site but is likely to make structural changes further down the line to bring the space more in line with his Brighton and Hove restaurants, which are both big on counter seating.
Halsall - whose CV includes The Dorchester, Launceston Place and Roux at Parliament Square - will create a menu that’s broadly similar to that offered at Cin Cin’s Hove site.
Launch dishes will include Scottish scallop, San Marzano and smoked chilli, fennel, tapenade butter; chicken Milanese, giardinera salad, wild garlic emulsion; and espresso tart, chocolate and hazelnut crumble, date ice cream.
Toscano says that while handmade pasta will still be a key part of the offering, more emphasis will be placed on small plates and secondi-style dishes due to the site having a smaller kitchen and the large number of small plates pasta places in central London.
“We’re aware that there is a fair bit of competition so we want to offer a little more. We’ll stay true to the brand we’ve created but there’s room for development. The site has been a fish restaurant in various guises for the last 30 years so we might look to explore that at some point.”
Cin Cin’s original Vine Street site will soon be given over to Cin Cin’s delivery business but will re-open when all social distancing restrictions are lifted.
Toscano and Halsall taking over the Bonnie Gull site marks the end of Hunter and Danny Clancy's casual mini chain of fish restaurants, but the pair have not ruled out a comeback at some point and continue to operate Chelsea fishmonger and seafood bar The Sea, The Sea.
Image credit: Helin Food Photography