Silvena Rowe’s modern, Eastern Mediterranean restaurant Quince is to open at the May Fair Hotel in April, replacing the hotel’s existing dining offer Amba.
Focusing on Turkish and Lebanese cuisine “lightened for the Western palate”, Quince will feature a selection of grilled meats, cooked using robata and charcoal grills, plus a whole spit-roasted baby lamb on the weekends.
Rowe will also offer a selection of well-known dishes with a twist, such as avocado hummus, pumpkin and sweet potato hummus, halibut schwarma and king prawns in pomegranate butter with anise flower.
Quince will be open for lunch, dinner and afternoon tea seven days a week, the latter of which will offer an Eastern Mediterranean twist on traditional dishes such as baba ganoush sandwiches made using truffle tahina bread.
A selection of dishes from Rowe’s latest cookery book, Purple Citrus & Sweet Perfume, will also feature on the menu.
Rowe told BigHospitality that she expected the restaurant to break new ground in the Western world of Eastern Mediterranean cuisine.
“Quince is basically a restaurant about a very modern, alluring and magical Eastern Mediterranean cuisine,” she said. “If you look anywhere in London or even Britain, food like that doesn’t exist.
“Everywhere you go you have a traditional Lebanese or Arabic Middle Eastern offer, often with the usual suspects like kebabs, rice and chopped lettuce, but it’s either very good or mediocre. Quince is about making things different.”
The 122-cover space, which will close on 14 March for a six-week refurbishment, has been designed by Martin Brudnizki, and will feature an open kitchen, a 22-seat bar plus a more informal 60-cover space called Quince Salon, which will serve afternoon tea and a limited menu in the evening.
Rowe added that she expected the restaurant to be amongst the top three “most beautiful” in London.
“It’s laid back, but sexy in an alluring, oriental way. It has very deluxe, cosmopolitan and luxury elements, but we wanted to create an eatery where you feel special and comfortable coming back day after day.
“Prices will be very reasonable because I’m not in the business of opening in Mayfair and insulting people with high prices just because I’m in Mayfair. I want people to be treated with respect and to come back and eat time and again.”
Rowe will head the kitchen as chef patron on a daily basis, supported by sous chef Rob Grandison.
The restaurant manager will be Luca Fametti, formerly of Nobu, while David Chauvet will take the role of head sommelier. The May Fair’s executive chef Bert Muhle will continue to oversee the food & beverage operation aside from Quince.
Bulgarian-born Rowe was previously executive chef for the Baltic Restaurant Group, which operates Baltic, Wodka and Chez Kristoff in London.
She has also appeared on TV shows such as Saturday Kitchen and Market Kitchen, but intends to cut back on her public appearances to concentrate on running the restaurant.
“We already have a lot of TV interest but I’m withholding from a lot of offers for the simple reason that the restaurant matters to me,” she added. “I had a choice – go and open a restaurant and practice what I preach or purely concentrate on my public profile like Gino D’Acampo and others. But I love the idea of introducing a new offer to the London dining scene.
“It’s not the money that drives me - I would have made more staying out of the restaurant business with TV appearances.”
Rowe now plans to launch a cookbook about Quince, plus create a TV show on how the restaurant was conceived in due course.