Town & Country Inns is set to launch Fleet Street Kitchen, a new ‘farm to fork’ British restaurant featuring a Barbacoa open-fire grill, which will sit alongside the bar operator’s Après and Mechu outlets in Birmingham’s Summerrow development.
Opening on Friday 1 March, Fleet Street Kitchen comprises a 120-cover restaurant, separate bar area and downstairs cocktail bar. Town & Country Inns’ chairman Keith Williams says the group is using the venue as a ‘test pilot’ for other potential sites across the UK.
“We’ve put a lot of research into this new brand and we hope it can travel,” Williams told BigHospitality. “The custom-designed Barbecoa charcoal grill takes centre stage with a glass front – it’s all going to be very visual with a theatrical atmosphere.
“If this first one is successful, we would look to possibly put another Fleet Street Kitchen at a unit in a mixed development down in Cheltenham, where we also operate an Après bar.”
The Barbacoa grill, which is heavily utilised in Northern Spain, is a pure charcoal indoor barbecue grill used for cooking meat and fish. Fleet Street Kitchen Birmingham will therefore primarily serve dry-aged Hereford and Dexter beef steaks with burgers, chicken, fish and a selection of vegetarian options making up the menu.
With the current allegations of horsemeat mislabelling sweeping the UK, Williams admitted that the timing of the restaurant’s opening is somewhat unfortunate.
“It’s a bit annoying that we’re opening when this horsemeat scandal is going on,” he said. “Everyone’s talking about it at the moment but it will soon get forgotten.
“We are all about celebrating British produce and we can trace everything that we do back to the specific herds of cows – so it’s definitely safe.”
Starters, which include deep-fried calamari and burger sliders, range from £3 to £9, and steaks are priced up to £23.
The restaurant also houses an outside terrace area, offering an additional 50 covers with views over the adjacent canal. Designer Matt Rawlinson has given the site an ‘urban vibe’ with vintage tiles, hand-crafted ceilings and retro furniture all featuring in Fleet Street Kitchen’s interior.
Downstairs at Fleet Street Kitchen, the venue’s ‘hideaway’ cocktail bar, will be open every evening for Birmingham’s over 25’s market, and available for corporate events and private parties.
Onwards and upwards
Town & Country Inns currently also operates the five-strong Après bar chain - with sites in Birmingham, Solihull, Cheltenham, Lichfield and Mere Green - and the Mechu bar grill and club, also at the Summerrow development in Birmignham.
Following what the business referred to as a ‘significant restructuring’ last year, Williams insisted that the business is now ‘moving forward’, citing a notable increase in sales.
“Over the past 18 months we’ve focused on restructuring and getting rid of what we thought was a bit of deadwood (three bars were disposed of) - and no we’re just moving forward.
“Our like-for-like sales are up by almost 10 per cent. The only downer for us was January with the amount of snow that fell which was a disaster.”