Published 13 December 2021
Catch up on the latest industry news stories of the week from the CODE Bulletin
In the pandemic, artisan corner shops have become a friendly trend. The next to open will be Half Cut Market, “a new solution for sophisticated and sustainable snacks and beverages” nestled between Kentish Town and Caledonian Road. It’s the work of four friends, each of whom have years of hospitality experience and have set out to forge a mini mart with a conscience. Available will be products such as frozen dumplings from My Neighbours the Dumplings, pizza from Homeslice, and ice cream from Happy Endings. There will be more than 80 low-intervention wines and over 120 craft beers from independent breweries. Classic, “sustainable” deli goods such as pastas, meats and cheeses will come from local suppliers, and a simple “curated menu” of drinks and snacks can be bought to enjoy on-site. If there aren’t tins of Perello olives, something unimaginable will have happened. Co-founder Holly Willcocks (Noble Rot, MeatLiquor), said: “I’m so excited to be able to showcase thoughtfully made wine from small producers. The opening list brings together some brilliant bottles from cult natural wine producers alongside some more classical styles. The offering is going to change really regularly, both in bottle and by the glass, and I’m looking forward to introducing our locals to some of my favourite small scale producers from around the world”. Another of the founders, Danny Eilenberg of Arnie Drinks, will also be expanding his not-for-profit cocktail delivery service project with the aim of funding at least 750 meals per month for local food bank users.
Zia Lucia has opened in Balham, its sixth site in a rapidly growing group. The pizzeria, launched by Claudio Vescovo and Gianluca D’Angelo in Islington in 2016, also counts Wembley, Wandsworth, Hammersmith, and Aldgate East among its neighbourhoods. We doubt Balham will be where the expansion ends. Zia Lucia has been a forerunner in London’s Neapolitan pizza boom, joining the likes of 50 Kalo, Santa Maria, L’Antica and Rudy’s in identifying the city as a place with ample demand. Despite raucous proclamations for chewier, heritage wheatier, more LA-style pizzas in some media circles, Neapolitan rightly remains top when considering pizza’s place in London’s dining renaissance. There’s a reason Franco Manca is taking over the country. What is pizza without a floppy middle?
Restaurateur Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini will open Itaku on Great Portland Street next month. Fernandez-Versini, who, sure, is famous for his Cannes pop-up Cosy Box (as the press announcement said) but is probably best known for marrying ‘Cheryl’, has teamed up with the chef Ivan Simeoli, previously of The Royal Academy of Arts, The Wallace Collection, and Michelin starred Osteria Francescana. Simeoli has devised a menu where Italian cuisine utilises Japanese flavours and techniques, an increasingly popular combination in London. Dishes will include soya milk poached pork belly with baked Umbrian beans; miso Cornish monkfish with pumpkin and Tuscan cabbage; and Sicilian red prawns with black truffle ponzu and shiso.
Monty’s Deli, which for years made some of London’s best Rueben sandwiches, has closed for good. The news was first reported by Eater, citing sources who said the business became insolvent in November and “had to go into voluntary liquidation”. Founders Mark Ogus and chef Owen Barratt first launched the concept at Maltby Street Market in 2012, and soon became popular thanks to its “Jewish comfort food”, where salt beef, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing sat wonderfully inside proper bread. Monty’s had been an online operation for some time, with sites on Hoxton Street and beyond shutting in 2018 and 2019. The closure is a big shame. Keep hold of those Monty’s t-shirts.
Paris’ own Loulou Groupe is heading to the UK for the first time next year with plans for a fine dining restaurant and a cocktail lounge. Mayfair is the obvious choice for restaurateurs who have expanded to St Tropez, and a Grade II townhouse on Charles Street with a history of high society 1920s shindigs makes sense. As Hot Dinners pointed out, the building was once owned by Dame Margaret Greville, who once threw a ball there as part of her role as matchmaker for the Queen Mother and the then Prince Albert. We think Loulou Groupe’s commitment “to restore 16 Charles Street to its former glory and bring it into public use for everyone to enjoy” sounds suitably genteel.
A food and drink festival, Regenerative Agriculture – a Conversation, is coming to London in January, hosted across The Culpeper group’s pubs and supported by CODE. The idea is to “help people to make better choices when it comes to sourcing and consuming food”, with a series of talks hosted by some of the food industry’s leading voices – Glen Burrows from The Ethical Butcher and Henry Astor from Bruern Farms to name just two – and dinners by ex-Ledbury and Clove Club chef Tim Spedding, and Cornwall farmer Matt Chatfield, the man behind Cull Yaw.
The Connaught Bar was named the World’s Best Bar for a second year running last week. Bartenders at the legendary hotel are now wondering if they can make it three years in a row, because, by their own admission, what else would they do? Judges praised the bar for staying “true to its principles of presenting artful, modern drinks with graceful service in an elegant setting.” Any manager at the Mayfair hotel will tell you that has been the plan since 1897. Second place at the awards went to Tayer + Elementary near Old Street. London, one and two.
Andrew Pern has been revealed as an investment partner in plans to open a refectory restaurant at York Minster. The chef, owner of the Michelin-starred Star at Harome, also in Yorkshire, has been working with partners including Mike Green, chair of GEM Construction, and interior designer Rachel McLane to formulate plans for a restaurant on the site of the former Minster School. The City of York Council’s planning committee unanimously resolved to grant planning permission last week, The Caterersaid, and the project is now ramping up. The Right Revd Dr Jonathan Frost, Dean of York, said: “This excellent partnership fully embraces Chapter’s vision to create a warm, welcoming refectory facility in the heart of the city. Re-purposing the former Minster School buildings to create a wonderful new space is fundamental to the principles of sustainability set out in the York Minster Precinct Neighbourhood Plan. We are also delighted to work with partners whose ethos as a community employer is aligned with York Minster’s core values for openness, inclusivity and support for disadvantaged groups, such as ex-prisoners, who are often excluded from mainstream employment opportunities.”
Joe Fox has been appointed group executive head chef at Firmdale Hotels. Fox will be responsible for overseeing the menus and operations across the six London brasseries under the group, including the Ham Yard at Ham Yard Hotel and Refuel at The Soho. An announcement said Fox will be “crafting menus for each restaurant, drawing inspiration from seasonal British produce and with a focus on sustainability… supporting low impact food, the brasserie style dishes will be rooted in British cooking with contemporary flair.” Upcoming dishes will include beef tartare with Berkswell; Cornish fish stew; and celeriac, potato and rosemary terrine with a soft boiled duck egg. Fox said: “I’ve been a long-time admirer of Firmdale Hotels and am truly thrilled to be joining the team. I am looking forward to creating menus that are led by flavour – combining seasonality with my own version of classic dishes for a memorable dining experience”. Con Ring, Firmdale MD, added: “We continually look to reinvent the hotel experience and Joe marks a new departure for Firmdale’s restaurants. A great addition to the team, he brings a fresh approach to food, sustainability, seasonality and the dining experience.”