Perilla's founders on opening their first permanent restaurant

By Sophie Witts contact

- Last updated on GMT

Perilla's founders on opening their first permanent restaurant

Related tags: Stoke newington

Following a series of sell-out London residencies, chef Ben Marks (ex-Noma and The Square) and front-of-house Matt Emmerson (Polpo) are opening their first permanent restaurant Perilla in Newington Green next month - with the help of some very influential backers.

Can you describe the concept of Perilla?

M&B: The inspiration behind Perilla is simple, we wanted to pair the food we enjoyed eating with an environment we felt comfortable in. We want Perilla to be accessible to everyone in terms of both atmosphere and price point without compromising on the quality of the food.

How did the pop-up get started?

B: Like most things Perilla started over a drink. Matt and I wanted to create something different to what was already on the market and we thought a pop-up was the best way to test what we were planning to do. Luckily it was received really quite well.

You've got the backing of chefs Philip Howard [Elystan Street] and Martyn Nail [Claridges], and Thomas Kochs [MD of Hotel Cafe Royal] to launch your first site, how did this come about?

B: We are very lucky to have a dream team of investors behind us, each bringing a different skill set to the table. I worked under Phil at The Square when we were doing our early pop-ups. I trained with Martyn at Claridge's in my formative years and know Thomas from my time there. They have all been incredibly supportive since we started the project.

Can you tell us a bit about the new restaurant site?

M&B: When we first stumbled across it it was a colourful and slightly quirky children's cafe. Through the pink, yellow orange baby blue were the skeleton of what we thought looked like an incredible building. What really attracted us to the site was the massive glass frontage, unusual shape and the beautiful green across the road.Having taken the building back to it's bare bones, we have been lucky to have found it in fantastic condition.The plan is to keep the finishes quite raw, stripping back to bricks, the original terrazzo floor and beautiful wooden ceilings.

What can we expect to see on the menu?

B: There will be a combination of dishes we served at our residency such as a fried duck egg with chopped mussels and a sauce made from parsley and lovage, and others that we are working on now. We are extremely excited about a roast chicken and cauliflower mushroom dish, but that will rely on us opening on time whilst the mushrooms are still in season.

Ben you've cooked at Noma and The Square, how much does your Michelin background influence the menu at Perilla?

B: They are two incredible restaurants, which have of course influenced the cooking at Perilla. That said, the food will be very different to both. Phil’s constant emphasis on maximising flavour is something I want everyone in the kitchen to follow.

What will the price point be?

M&B: We are working hard to keep the price as low as possible by centring dishes around humble ingredients, with smaller dishes on the A La Carte ranging between £6-16. The best value we feel comes in the set menu for us at £38 for 5 courses.

What will be the biggest challenge moving from pop-up to a permanent site? Will you be making any big changes?

M&B: The pressure is on a different scale but so is the opportunity. We've put together an incredible team of front and back-of-house and we've been able to design a dining room and kitchen that we're really excited about. The biggest challenge will be trying to make sure everything we achieved at the residencies is bettered. 

Finally, what are your long-term plans for Perilla?

M&B: Who knows what the future holds but for now we are only focused on creating a really special neighbourhood restaurant in the space on Green Lanes. We hope to have a strong and loyal following who enjoy coming to dine with us.

Perilla will open at 1-3 Green Lanes, Newington Green in early November.

Related topics: People, Restaurants, Small Talk, Dining trends

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