The couple have run the site since February, but have this month re-launched the 16th Century Tudor farmhouse with the new name, branding and interior design. Stovell’s comprises a 60-cover restaurant, 40-cover bar area and upstairs private dining room with space for an additional 16.
“We didn’t want to disappoint or upset regulars, but at the same time we didn’t want to mislead people that it was the same place with new owners,” Fernando Stovell told BigHospitality. “We’re really proud of what we’ve done here and we just want to showcase the fact that we’re hardworking, humble chefs who want to run a good, honest restaurant.
“We’re offering a contemporary European menu; I’m a big fan of trying to use the best of British produce - it’s about honesty and a clean way of serving things. Everything is homemade here, from the bread to the butter.
“We go foraging up in Cobham Woods and we’re working alongside a local school, allowing children to grow produce in a nearby plot of land. We can then buy that produce and sometimes put the growers name on the dish – we’re big fans of helping the community and educating young people about food.”
Celebrating Asador Etxebarri
Born in Mexico City, Fernando Stovell previously also worked with Eric Chavot at the then two-Michelin-starred Capital hotel, and he has since appeared on the BBC's Saturday Kitchen on a number of occasions. The chef went on to reveal that Stovell’s has taken some inspiration from Victor Arguinzoniz, the renowned chef-patron of Spain’s Asador Etxebarri, which placed 31st in this year’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards.
“Victor is a friend and also a great role model,” said Fernando. “He believes in nothing but the produce and he doesn’t cook with gas or electricity, just 100 per cent with wood. So we have a custom-made wood grill which really celebrates his work, and a huge pata negra (cured ham) stand, which really celebrates his work.”
With the a la carte menu coming in at £30 for two courses and £38 for three course, Stovell’s menu features the likes of wild mushroom consommé, pickled mushrooms, lychees and Pedro Ximénez cream for starters, followed by crisp pressed Send Hill Farm suckling pig with prunes, sherry vinegar and cauliflower cream finishing with a warm chocolate fondant and Tudor Rose ice cream.
The restaurant also offers a separate seasonal grill menu at lunch and dinner, offering various cuts of meat as well as a traditional British Sunday roast each week within the new-look rustic setting.
No expansion plans
Speaking of the potential to run more than one restaurant in the UK, Fernando insisted he was happy with what he now has. “There are so many amazing chefs that have burned themselves out by expanding,” he said. “I’ve just always loved food and the beauty of ingredients, and being able to work here with my wife just makes it complete.”
Kristy Stovell, who was born in New Zealand, moved to the UK in 1997 and has worked for several reputable restaurants including Monte’s Private Members Restaurant and Club on Sloane Street, Knightsbridge. She met Fernando at The Wellington Club, which the pair ended up running together for five years.