The former executive chef at Danesfield House in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, is currently looking at potential sites in Marylebone and says he hopes to have found a location by the time The Test Kitchen closes, in March or April next year.
Exact plans for the new permanent restaurant can’t be finalised until a site has been found, but Simmonds says he wants his restaurant to feature an open kitchen.
“I want it to be one big chef’s table so the kitchen comes out into the dining room and all the tables and chairs will be around it,” he says. “There will be no barrier between the kitchen and the dining room.”
Simmonds is currently testing out and adjusting the proposed menu for his new restaurant at The Test Kitchen, on the site of the former Barrafina on Soho’s Frith Street. Here diners are actively encouraged to give feedback on their food by filling in special comment cards.
The original intention for the new restaurant was for it to centre on a tasting menu, but Simmonds says he has since changed tack. “At the start I wanted it to be about a tasting menu, but I’ve moved away from that idea now. It might have a list of ingredients and people could choose, three, five, seven, nine or twelve courses or allow us to do bespoke menus for them.”
As well as being used to tweak menus and service style, the year-long pop up is being used to attract investors for his Marylebone restaurant. “The Test Kitchen is a way of showcasing what we can do and to bring potential investors and landlords in for when I open a permanent site,” he adds.
In 2014 Simmonds saught to raise £1.1m through the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) to open his first solo restaurant in central London but had to put his plans on hold after encountering problems with obtaining funds.