The Shipton family, who owns the 22-bedroom Hertford House, are collaborating with Clarke on the project after approaching him with a business proposition last year. The venture has seen the restaurant and bar area undergo a large redesign, as well as a complete change to the menu and drinks on offer.
Clarke said: “I went and looked at the hotel and I got on well with the family, so I really wanted to help them realise their vision. There’s some great produce around Hertford, and it’s a nice town. I thought this project would be really interesting and give me the chance to bring my kind of experience to an existing business and help to drive it forward.
“It was a great challenge because of the size of the building, which was new for me, and in terms of the redesign and restructure that took place."
The project is being completed in three stages; a revamp of the restaurant and bar area, a change in structure of the downstairs club, and work on the outdoor garden space. The first phase of the project, which involved the redesign of the restaurant and bar, has been completed, with the downstairs lounge expected to be reaching completion at the end of next week.
Clarke said: “The restaurant looks great, you walk in there and it’s got an amazing vibe, it’s buzzy and very eclectic. It’s got interesting art on the walls and it’s been refurbished with reclaimed wood. The soundtracks are good and it all adds together to make a really nice atmosphere to hang out it and eat.
“We’re working on the downstairs club area now which we’re turning into more of a lounge and cocktail bar. It will be a cocktail-lead food environment rather than a club now.”
The third phase of the redesign will include work on the garden area, where a bespoke wood fire oven is being installed outside to create another social space.
Revamped food and drink
The hotel’s menu and bar offering has been completely changed. The new restaurant will offer British dishes and use meat that has been locally sourced, cooked on the Robata grill or in the in-house smoker. The menu features dishes such as 35-day-aged Rib Eye steaks, Cornish day-boat fish tacos, BBQ smoked hickory chicken and Clarke’s 'top notch' burgers.
Clarke said: “It’s fun food, and we source as locally as we can to support the surrounding community. We’ve been sensitive to the area the hotel is in and incorporated a lot of lighter meals and salad dishes too so it’s a good grazing menu. You can come in and have some amazing wings and a barman’s choice cocktail for £10 so it’s great value as well."
The kitchen team has been put together by Clarke, who will be continuing to work with the project on a long-term consultancy basis. He is also working on his own projects with business partner David Wolanski, including plans to expand Disco Bistro’s brand and open a permanent site this year.