Meet the men disrupting London’s food scene for the better
London’s food scene is phenomenal. World class, in fact. As London’s culinary credentials go, it would surely be in line for top prize at the Food Olympics (we really wish that was a real thing). But, of course, even the very best gastronomic scenes need a healthy shake up every now and again.
As luck would have it, such a shake up appears in the form of chefs and restaurant founders who are introducing unique cuisines, rare ingredients and ethical practices to their restaurants. They’re disrupting London’s food scene, in the best possible way; and in doing so, they’re preventing London from resting on its culinary laurels. They’re pushing the boundaries, experimenting with flavours and keeping Londoners on their toes: and we feel it’s about time you and they were introduced.
Chances are, you’ll be familiar with Pasta Evangelists already; offering artisan pasta recipe kits for pasta lovers everywhere. It’s an utterly unique concept, allowing for luxury pasta dishes to be whipped up at home, with minimal effort and maximum enjoyment (we’re talking Lobster, Crab & Prawn Tortelloni with Tarragon Butter and Fresh Samphire, for one). Fresh is the name of the game, and the cooking process follows ancient methods as used by homecooks across the Italian peninsula for centuries.
“I launched Pasta Evangelists from my flat the day after closing my previous business, a luxury smartphone brand, in 2016,” Savelli tells Gentleman’s Journal. “Having grown up in Genoa, I love cooking and I eat pasta every day. But I also spotted an opportunity. There were several waves of premiumisation, improving the freshness, seasonality and branding for burgers, pizzas, coffee and ice cream; but not for pasta. So with this, I wanted to bring my Italianità — which means doing things as an Italian would — to London, by making and delivering extremely fresh, artisanal products in the pasta space. [The first recipe was] my nonna’s pesto recipe.
“I launched Pasta Evangelists from my flat…”
“We want to reimagine what fresh pasta can be,” Savelli continues. “While our pasta and our story is inspired by Italian tradition, we’re always thinking about how we can be bolder with the flavours, textures and experiences we are creating. We often forge creative collaborations with cult London brands, like the Ginger Pig and Pizza Pilgrims, to create one-of-a-kind recipes you cannot taste anywhere else. Think: Carbonara with a Crackling Crumb or a Pici ‘Margherita’.”
We have no doubt you’re highly familiar with Bowlby; it wouldn’t be the first time we’d extolled his culinary expertise and innovation, after all. But just in case there’s the slightest chance you’ve missed the Kricket hype, we’ll fill you in: Bowlby kicked off his culinary career in Mumbai. While there, he soaked up every morsel of Indian cooking, cuisine and culinary expertise he could find: and upon his return to the UK, he launched Kricket — the Indian restaurant making Indian food accessible to the British palette. It started off in a shipping container in Brixton; and the rest is gastronomic history.
“Having worked in the Indian subcontinent and cooked different regional food there, I felt like there were so many flavours and techniques that we could bring to the UK,” says Bowlby. “We’re not an authentic Indian restaurant; but [we] enjoy exploring the different dishes we’ve discovered over the years, recreating them using British produce to create [dishes] like our Samphire Pakora.
“Drinks like the Gooseberry Chaat Margarita…”
“Lockdown has really changed the business,” he continues. “We’ve come out of it with more arms to the business and a larger portfolio, including more delivery businesses and we’re also launching a bar in Soho in September. It’s an exciting time.”
It’s an exciting time, indeed. If your ears pricked up at the mention of the bar, we can confirm it’s certainly not one you’ll want to miss. Named SOMA, it’s the debut bar from Bowlby and his partner, Rik Campbell, set to open this September. It’ll be a modern, minimalistic take on the basement speakeasy, and will serve up drinks influenced by the Indian subcontinent and neighbouring countries. You’ll have to wait till you’re there to see the menu; but tantalisingly named drinks like the Gooseberry Chaat Margarita, Coconut and Jaggery Old Fashioned and Picked Mooli Martini will all be on offer.
A pub and restaurant in a renovated horse hospital? We’re listening. And if you know what’s good for you (and your palette), you’ll listen too. Founded by three friends from Leeds — who collectively have over 30 years’ experience in the hospitality and music industries — the Camden pub opened in March, and you can rest assured it’s no ordinary pub.
For one thing, three Michelin star trained chef Ash Finch will be heading up to the kitchen, having trained with the likes of Marcus Wareing and Alain Ducasse; and he’s a force to be reckoned with, with a seasonally curated modern rustic menu, not to mention The Farrier Dining Club: a monthly series of 5-course tasting menus and wine pairing supper clubs.
“Camden is the capital’s musical heartbeat…”
But The Farrier isn’t just about the food (sublime though the food will be; we haven’t even touched on the Sunday Roasts, so you’ll just have to experience those for yourself); the ‘piece-de-resistance’ will be a floor to ceiling wine wall, with a sliding ladder, featuring rare natural, organic and biodynamic wines. “We wanted to create a welcoming space where people can have access to those quality food and wine experiences, but in a totally relaxed and laid back environment,” says Gibson.
And then there’s the music, which — in true Camden fashion — will make up an integral part of the experience, with a curated playlist sitting right at home with famous Camden venues like The Roundhouse. “Camden is the capital’s music heartbeat and the birthplace of so many musical greats,” says Hartshorn. “It seemed like a natural fit for us to combine our love for music, food and drink and bring our London venue to life.”
If you’ve ever been to Nest Restaurant in Hackney, you’ll be over the moon to hear about Fenn, the team’s latest venture; even more so if you’re based in Fulham, as Fenn is happily housed on Wandsworth Bridge Road. It’s a relaxed neighbourhood restaurant that prioritises seasonal British food; and we can guarantee you’ll want to tick this one off your culinary list.
And Head Chef Joe Laker knows his stuff. “I’m heavily influenced by [my experiences] early on in my career at The Blackswan and Roots York — [especially] in the way Tommy Banks thought about food and seasons — and I try to bring this to the dishes I create,” he tells Gentleman’s Journal.
“Elderflower has had a particularly poor season…”
It’s no secret that eating seasonally is one vital way in which we can help our long-suffering planet; and Fenn is no stranger to seasonal eating, placing it at the very top of its agenda. “Fenn is a hyper seasonal restaurant, very much influenced by what’s in season in Britain and what our suppliers have,” Laker explains. “Due to the poor weather recently, farmers have had a rough time; so, unfortunately, some things haven’t been able to flourish as much as possible. For example, it’s been a really poor season for stone fruits: so we’ve had to use them as and when we can get them, or not at all.
“Equally elderflower has had a particularly poor season,” Laker continues. “Usually, you’d be able to smell it just walking around London; but this year, it’s been few and far between. [However,] we’re currently doing some exciting things with Isle of Wight tomatoes. We’re pairing them with strawberry glaze and redcurrants which is an unusual combination but one that I think works.”
Have you ever imagined what would happen if Japanese cooking was combined with Nordic touches? We’re guessing not, as it’s a fairly surprising union; but one that undoubtedly, unequivocally works, as evidenced by Pantechnicon — and the latest restaurant under the Pantechnicon umbrella is no different. ‘Sachi’ translates as ‘happiness’; and that’s certainly one emotion you’ll feel as you take your first bite of this unique cuisine — regional cooking from Japan, with hints of Nordic flavours and ingredients.
“Contemporary dishes from the likes of Hokkaido, Osaka and Fukuoka…”
In a recurring theme, seasonal and local ingredients are prioritised; and thanks to the meticulous menu crafting of Hudston and Golding, contemporary dishes from the likes of Hokkaido, Osaka and Fukuoka are in the spotlight. Hotate no chōri, for one: scallops, artichoke and yuzu with fermented grains. Line caught fish is prepared in front of guests at the sushi counter; and the theatrical culinary experience extends to the hot dishes, too: witness your Butaniku (pork belly and barley miso with radish) being made in front of your very eyes.
And Pantechnicon could be fairly described as movers and shakers in the sustainability sphere. Straws are made of wheat (if you’re not already convinced to visit, just go for the wheat straws), vegetables arrive in reusable crates and water is bottled using Nordaq: a patented filtration system from Sweden. Plus, all vegetables are sourced from farms in southeast England, and Swedish bakers deliver their rye bread by bicycle; presumably, the planet is writing these guys a thank you note as we speak.
Sachi at Pantechnicon
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