As A-listers are opening venues in the capital, it's good time for us to take a look at London's latest VIP dining destinations.
Usain Bolt—Tracks & Records
The former professional sprinter Usain Bolt – a nine-time Olympic gold medallist – has turned his attention to Tracks & Records, a new restaurant opposite Liverpool Street Station. Like the branches in Jamaica, it’s decorated with a variety of his sports memorabilia and murals including his signature “thunderbolt” pose, plus a large dance floor with reggae music and DJ sets downstairs.
Inspired by Bolt’s favourite dishes – although he confesses he can’t cook – starters include jerk chicken, saltfish fritters and plantain chips with barbecue jerk pork sausage, roast corn salsa, Pepper Jack cheese and chipotle sauce. Mains include jerk-grilled shrimp, and curried mutton served with mango chutney and coconut rice.
End with a Jamaican bread pudding with coconut rum sauce and vanilla ice cream, and Caribbean cocktails such as One Love – a mix of coconut rum, pineapple and Curacao.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Enrique Iglesias and Rafael Nadal—Zela
Ever since Zela launched in 2017 in Ibiza, celebrities have flocked to try its Mediterranean-Japanese cuisine and cocktails. Now, the singer Iglesias, tennis player Nadal and footballer Ronaldo have teamed up with Spanish entrepreneurs Manuel Campos Guallar and Abel Matutes to open a branch in ME London hotel on the Strand.
Like the original, it fuses Mediterranean fish with Japanese techniques to create a cuisine dubbed ‘Meppon’.
Ronaldo says: “Zela is one of my favourite Asian restaurants in the world and I’m delighted to open it in London. The blend of Mediterranean and Japanese cuisine, with familiar flavours and a fresh and healthy touch, really matches my lifestyle.”
Dishes, served on Japanese ceramics, include salmon poké with mango and avocado, and garlic prawn gyoza. Co-founder Manuel Campos Guallar explains: “Usuzukuri toro pa amb tomaquet is inspired by traditional Spanish tomato bread. Slices of tuna belly sashimi are topped with grated tomato, olive oil and breadcrumbs. For me, this dish epitomises Meppon cuisine.”
Even if you don’t bump into Ronaldo, Iglesias or Nadal, you might spot a familiar face – Whoopi Goldberg, former Blue singer Duncan James and Chicago star Alexandra Burke have dined here.
Idris Elba—The Parrot
Golden Globe-winning actor and DJ Idris Elba has opened The Parrot, a cocktail bar and live music venue in the 111-year-old Waldorf Hilton London. The project is a joint venture with co-founder Lee Caulfield, a Hollywood ‘fixer’ who books restaurants, bars and holidays for celebrities, plus Lee’s twin brother Nicky, a musical theatre drummer.
While primarily a cocktail bar – with drinks inspired by 15 breeds of parrot – the hotel’s executive chef, Karl Richardson, has created small plates. But the main reason to visit is for its nightly entertainment, featuring a five-piece band of West End stars. The 60-seat venue features tropical decor featuring banana leaf wallpaper, birdcages and emerald scallop tiles.
The glam launch was attended by stars including Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson and Benedict Cumberbatch, so if you make it on to the guest list, expect to mingle with similar A-listers. Even if you don’t spot a celeb, you can still feel like one – the bar does own a chauffeur-driven Aston Martin, after all.
Donnie and Mark Wahlberg—Wahlburgers
The actor Mark Wahlberg – best known for his roles in “Boogie Nights” and “Ted” – is launching a branch of his US burger chain Wahlburgers in Covent Garden. Scheduled to open in 2019, the two-storey restaurant is a joint venture between Mark, his brother Donnie from New Kids on the Block and their brother Paul, who is executive chef. This branch joins the 22 other restaurants in the US, which feature in a reality TV series.
Aimed at families, it will have a casual vibe and walls decorated with photos of the siblings throughout their lives. Mark will attend the launch, but if you miss him, you can still interact with him – as he and Donnie will be available to chat to diners via huge screens.