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Lorne's Katie Exton on opening her first London restaurant

By Sophie Witts , 13-Feb-2017
Last updated on 13-Feb-2017 at 19:08 GMT2017-02-13T19:08:15Z

Lorne's Katie Exton on opening her first London restaurant

Sommelier Katie Exton is opening Lorne in Victoria with her former colleague from The Square, chef Peter Hall.

How did Lorne get started?

The idea came about while Peter and I were working together at The Square, where we enjoyed discussing restaurants from the different perspectives of a chef and front-of-house. We realised we shared a common vision for the type of restaurant we’d like to own so we decided to partner up and try. Lorne reflects where we’ve worked, where we’ve eaten and will be the type of restaurant we would have wanted to go on our days off.

Describe the new restaurant

Lorne is on Wilton Road, a bustling street less than five minutes’ walk from Victoria station. It’s a small restaurant with 45 covers and the room has a mixture of high level counter dining, banquettes and tables and chairs.

What’s on the menu?

The menu will be a la carte only and will have a strong modern British feel. Food will be inventive yet unfussy, but above all delicious - showcasing the best seasonal produce from the UK and Europe.

What will the price point be?

Starters will be between £9 and £13, mains between £17 and £25, and desserts from £8-£10. Wines will start from £20.

You describe Lorne as being a closer collaboration between front-of-house and kitchen. What does this mean?

Essentially it’s about making sure we feel like one team, with no sense of division between kitchen and front-of-house. We both have strong visions for our relevant areas but the constant dialogue that exists between us helps both reaffirm and challenge our ideas, and we think this makes us better together than if we were doing it alone.

You’ve said you want to give food and wine equal importance on the menu…

Naturally for most people the food is going to be the main draw, so with Lorne it’s been about making sure the drinks offering is carefully curated and developed alongside the food menu. The food and drinks should complement each other; we didn’t want a situation where the drinks were thrown together as an afterthought. And we’ve worked very closely with our suppliers to be able to offer excellent wines with reasonable mark-ups at all price points.

Both Philip Howard and Clive Watson [co-owner of Blixen] have given financial backing to the restaurant. How did this come about?

We worked for Phil at The Square and he’s been very supportive and full of advice since the start of this journey. Katie met Clive on a wine trip to Tuscany and we have both worked with him on different projects since. His success and experience in a different sector of dining brings a fresh and invaluable perspective on things.

Both of you have worked in high-end restaurants. Will you be aiming for a star or similar level of recognition for Lorne?

Getting a Michelin star is not our motivation for opening a restaurant, but having both worked in Michelin-starred restaurants for years there is a level of quality we both want to work to. Lorne hasn’t opened yet, it’s too soon to tell exactly who will fill it day after day, but we want it to be a restaurant that can adapt to its customers and fit comfortably into its new home on Wilton Road. 

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