"We did a recce in New York" - Neil Rankin on the future of Temper

By Sophie Witts contact

- Last updated on GMT

"We did a recce in New York" - Neil Rankin on the future of Temper

Related tags: Curry

Chef Neil Rankin opens his second Temper restaurant in The City’s Angel Court development on 24 July. 

Why are you switching from tacos to curry for this restaurant?

It was always part of the plan to focus on different cuisines at each Temper site, and curry fits in with our ethos of cooking with the whole animal. It’s also something that I’m really passionate about, I grew up on curry so always wanted to do a restaurant around it.

What’s on the menu?

The style is unique. The most traditional dish is probably butter masala, but there is also a Japanese curry with dashi that’s almost like a posh chip shop curry sauce; a deep fried egg in katsu curry; and Malaysian fish head curries. We’re also grilling up some meats and serving them as a sort-of tandoori, but they’re not marinated and are half-smoked.

We’re also trying out breakfast for the first time because of the location in the City, so we’re going to open at 7.30am Monday to Friday.

How do curries fit in to your low-and-slow cooking concept?

We smoke all the meat first in big smokers the same way we used to, then the sauces are made separately with stock and bone and the meat is added back in to it, so it’s not a traditional way of doing it. We have a specific grill for the ducks and chickens and a specific section of the kitchen for all the curry sauces as well.

Tell us about the new site

It’s 240-260 covers, and we’ve got a larger grill than in the original Temper. People can sit around it or on a mezzanine above looking down on it, which is cool. The restaurant also has a little bit of outdoor space, which I really like. Its only fault is that it’s a little bit tucked away but it will be a great little find when people discover it.

Are there any lessons from the first restaurant that you’ve taken in to the second?

The main lesson is in the way we process the meat. It’s been really tough to use all the wastage properly, but it’s worthwhile because it’s the goal of the restaurant to work off whole animals and buy directly from farms and take out the middle man. That’s why the concept works really well with curry. The first restaurant is a much harder beast because it is complicated by using cows. There is no beef in the new restaurant so it should be more straightforward. In the original Temper we use leftover beef fat to create tacos which sell really well, but in order to use beef in the new restaurant we’d have to create things that don’t fit the concept just for the sake of using it up, so we’re bringing in more chickens and ducks and fish. We don’t really have any wasted vegetables either, we just use the whole thing as much as we can.

Would you like to open more Temper restaurants?

The strategy is to open more, but I don’t know if they will all be as big as this. I’ve got another three ideas, but it depends on where we get sites. I quite like the idea of opening a smaller Temper taco bar, or we could do a smaller curry restaurant.

The good thing about the concept is we can be quite flexible where we open. In the City curry, beer and gin fits in quite nicely, whereas tacos and mezcal work better in Soho. It is nice to look at an area and cook what they would like and not just what I’d like to serve them, we’re in the business of feeding people not telling them what they want to eat.

Could Temper work outside London?

I think it could, but the trouble is we’ve started with two big restaurants - they’re both about 5,000 sq ft - so it might need to be smaller. A large curry site might work outside London, and the other concept I’ve got in mind probably will, but I think the original taco and mezcal Temper suits London, New York or other major cities.

Would you head stateside?

We did go out to New York on a recce because somebody suggested a site to us out there but it’s just too early for me. It’s a worry enough just having one restaurant, so having another that’s a six hour plane journey away doesn’t really tickle my fancy right now.  


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