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Mark Sargeant: Duke William pub to be 'accessible to all'

By Emma Eversham contact

- Last updated on GMT

Mark Sargeant's aim for his latest project - the Duke of William - is to provide a welcoming traditional pub environment
Mark Sargeant's aim for his latest project - the Duke of William - is to provide a welcoming traditional pub environment

Related tags: Pub, Kitchen, Restaurant, English cuisine, Mark sargeant

Mark Sargeant is planning for his first pub - The Duke William - to be an accessible and welcoming environment where customers will be able to order 'simple pub food done well' alongside local ales, drinks and bar snacks. 

The pub, in Ickham, Kent, is expected to open its doors today (15 April), three weeks after Sargeant and business partner Josh De Haan bought it.

Despite the chef, restaurateur and, now pub-owner's Michelin-starred background he has no plans to chase accolades, preferring to deliver good quality classic pub grub rather than fine-dining style food.

"Mine and Josh's ethos, for want of a better word, has been to open establishments that we’d want to go to ourselves. Most of my life was spent cooking super fine-dining Michelin-starred food, which is great for special occasions, but ask any chef – Sat Bains, Claude Bosi, Ashley Palmer-Watts - about what they'd want to eat and we’d all go out for prawn cocktail and steak and chips.

"I think where some chefs go wrong is when they are desperate to get accolades or Michelin stars. They find a pub because the rent may be cheaper and turn it into a restaurant, but I think that's detrimental to the pub scene." 

Search

The Duke William is the result of a two-year search for a pub for Sargeant and De Haan to add to their portfolio. The pair own Rocksalt and The Smokehouse in Folkestone and Sargeant has partnerships with the Great Northern Hotel and The Strand Dining Rooms in London. 

Sargeant said he had been overwhelmed at the level of interest in his latest project: "Josh, my business partner, and I always wanted to open a Kentish county pub and we put a few offers into one or two over last couple of years. We finally managed to secure this three weeks ago," he said. 

"Since I’ve opened my own restaurants I’ve never had more interest in anything I've done as I have since announcing I was doing a pub and I think it’s because they’re a home from home. They are so much more accessible. You can walk in for drinks and if you fancy a bite to eat they can fit you in. There are no fads or trends, it’s just a nice environment to spend time in.

"I even had visit from Russell Norman who lives in the next door village  - he arrived through a field at the back - and he wanted to find out what we were doing." 

Quintessential pub

Sargeant has installed a new kitchen at the pub, which is free-of-tie and has revamped the bar area ensuring there is 'a huge area for drinking'. He said the pub will initially just serve drinks, with an emphasis on local ales, and bar snacks until the full menu had been finalised with Rocksalt's head chef. 

Dishes expected to be on the menu include prawn cocktail, potted shrimp, chicken liver pate, fish & chips, ham, egg & chips, scampi in a bucket and a pork cheek suet pudding. Desserts are expected to include chocolate pots, gypsy tart and baked egg custard tarts. 

"I installed a happy beautiful kitchen, because it means happy staff. Having worked as a chef for so many years I know how important the kitchen is," he said. 

He added: "This place is the quintessential British pub. We have a beer garden, an open area and a huge area for drinking. You'll be able to eat wherever you like and dogs and kids are welcome. 

"We’re not in London down here so have to cater for all things for all people. You can almost get away with being more simple, so the food needs to reflect that." 

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