THE HOTTEST RESTAURANT OPENINGS OF 2016
As we reach the end of 2016 it’s time to look back and let the light shine on the hottest openings of the year. The list is a combination of the most viewed addresses on petitepassport.com and my personal opinion; spots I think you really have to visit because the creative people behind it didn’t stick with the old, but came up with an entire new and innovative perspective of what a restaurant should be like.
The not so obvious location
I think you agree with me that doing your best to find a restaurant and then walking in to a fantastic spot is the best feeling. Because you’ll have the idea that you’ve found a hidden gem and those restaurants aren’t located on a popular street in the center of a city. Almost all the restaurants in this list let you search for their location when you first visit them. Veranda is located in an area full of slaughterhouses in a very small building you would easily pass. De Scheepskameel is also a hidden gem: based on a former Marinebase. For The Lobby in Amsterdam you have to go to the Fizeaustraat where you won’t find another spot nearby. La Vaqueria Montanesa is located in a small street just North of the busy Alonso Martinez square; while the epicenter of cool spots is concentrated on the South of that square. And for Panama in Berlin you first have to find a hidden courtyard to eventually end up in the restaurant. See my review of Veranda here.
The hottest social media trends on 80m2
Since opening the Butcher’s Daughter in Nolita the fitboys and fitgirls of New York are attracted to their healthy menu and their delicious juices. But what makes The Butcher’s Daughter so popular? It has all the ingredients to make it a smash hit on social media (and that’s a fantastic marketing machine). Creating a spot like this is not easy: because every little thing has to be perfect. You have to cater to three main Instagram-users. The one who likes to take a selfie while drinking one of the juices. So make sure to present them beautifully with a lovely straw for example. Then there’s the food-Instagrammer. Ready to photograph everything she/he ordered. Be sure the food is presented beautifully, design a cool menu, take care of fresh flowers on the table and present the food on a cool plate (in the case of The Butcher’s Daughter: a wooden board). And have toast with avocado on the menu. Then there’s the interior photographer (like me). She falls for a stunning interior. And that’s definitely what got me excited when I entered the new Butcher’s Daughter in the West Village. Big open windows, a beautiful bar with vintage bar stools, lots of hanging plants, cute pillows and rotan chairs. See my review of The Butcher’s Daughter here.
Skip the never-ending wine list and focus
There’s a lot to tell about in my opinion the hottest restaurant opening in The Netherlands of this year. I love their sober approach to running a restaurant. The right focus on the big picture without too much fuzz makes it so interesting. Meaning: no huge menu, just a printed A4 with a few delicious choices. No frills in the interior, just simple wooden tables and Thonet chairs. And no never-ending wine list, but a focus on the best German wines. I’ve also noticed that a lot of restaurants are turning to natural wines like Veranda in Antwerp, FC Hyena in Amsterdam, Casa Mae in Lagos and Parc Broekhuizen in Leersum. See my review of Scheepskameel here.
The ’70s are back
The minimalistic Scandinavian interiors are making way for warm, luxurious spaces where colors on the wall, plants and deep-pile rugs are making their comeback. At The Lobby Fizeaustraat owner and designer Mirjam Espinosa wanted to create a modern version of the ’70s atmosphere. She used striking colors like yellow and green, made a sort of zitkuil (conversation pit) out of Ligne Roset’s Togo sofa’s and used tapestry on the walls. The hit-chair of 2016, the Gubi chair, is also present. Also spotted at Standard in Copenhagen and Hotel Bachaumont in Paris among others. See my review of The Lobby here.
Female chefs are running the show
The chef at Panama in Berlin is Sophie Rudolph, a well-known chef in Berlin as she worked for a Michelinstar restaurant before (Rutz). I’ve spotted more women in top level restaurants. Chefs Clare de Boer and Jess Shadbolt came from the River Cafe in London and opened King in New York recently together with Annie Chi who worked at the Clove Club in London before. And in Hong Kong you have to go to Little Bao where chef May Chow runs the show (who’s recently awarded as the best female chef in Asia). And last but not least April Bloomfield of The Spotted Pig opened her butchery and restaurant White Gold just over a month ago. See my review of Panama here.
Bring in the local food
Every day the owners of La Vaqueria Montanesa drive to Santander to get the freshest fish available from the fish market. Nowadays chefs do not only want to cook the food, but want to be as close as possible to the making of meat, fruit, bread etc. Food in general. When Rene Redzepi of NOMA announced his plans of making an urban farm, more chefs want to add ‘farmer’ to their CV’s. Or at least work together with a farm so you can control the process and serve your guests the freshest food as possible. At Orta at Casa Mae they work with two farms and will open one themselves in the garden. April Bloomfield and Tom Adams have launched a Cornish Farm named Coombeshead Farm this year. And chef Marco Westmaas will open a farm next to his Parc Broekhuizen in the new year. See my review of La Vaqueria Montanesa here.
Bye bye white table linen
Alain Ducasse is one of the world’s most famous chefs and runs numerous Michelinstarred restaurants. This year he decided to open Champeaux, a bistro at the newly opened Les Halles in Paris. He focusses on one product (souffles) and he hired a super cool design agency called Ciguë (known for several Aesop stores among other projects) and they made the place into a true Petite Passport spot. So no white table linen, but fantastic tables made of terrazzo. Stunning industrial light beams and a Departures/Arrivals board with the menu on it. Other chefs who are trend setting in not only the food but also the interior are Sergio Herman with The Jane, Rene Redzepi (is gonna pop up in Tulum this year… Definitely no white table linen there) and Jason Atherton with Kensington Street Social in Sydney. See my review of Champeaux here.
We’ve talked about Alain Ducasse’s Champeaux where he focusses on souffles only, and there are more chefs (not only on Michelinstar-level) who are giving everything they got to make one product as good as it can be. And please no, no, no hamburgers anymore or rotisseries, focus on other products. Look at Barobao in Stockholm where they focus on bao’s only. At Mork Chocolate Brew House in Melbourne they make the most delicious chocolate drinks. Sergio Herman makes fries at his Frites Atelier. And at Cha Cha Matcha in New York they only make matcha tea. See my review of Barobao here.
As we’ve seen at the hotel openings this year as well: we love to go outside. To trade our citytrip for a long weekend on a sunny island in a cool hotel. As we are glued to our phones and have a constant flow of information coming at us we need some time to go outside and be in nature. That’s why we’re so happy with restaurant openings in parks or nature in general. Like Parqiet in Rotterdam. Or Vuurtoreneiland in Amsterdam. Or the Farmopolis Cafe in London. See my review of Parqiet here.
The Latin American vibe
Europeans and Americans love to bring some of the Latin American vibe to us. We love the tacos, the ceviche (oh yes the ceviche!) and the sunny atmosphere. Tacombi in New York is a big hit, Supermercado in Rotterdam opened this year, Panama in Berlin took their inspiration from South America, Albert Adria opened Nino Viejo in Barcelona and Lima is a Michelinstar restaurant in London. See my review of Supermercado here.