Welcome back. We’re rather hoping this means the return of some iconic Racine dishes?
Yes. There were dishes that made the restaurant very popular, I’d be silly not to revisit the likes of calves brains with brown butter and côte de boeuf with bearnaise. A lot of the dishes I did at Racine will translate easily to a pub environment. For example the roast leg of lamb with flageolet beans, roast garlic and rosemary would be a great Sunday lunch dish.
Will you be cooking there much?
My role is chef director and I’m currently on the hunt for a good head chef but I will be cooking there a lot. It’s been two and a half years since I sold Racine and I’m desperate to get back into the kitchen. Cooking is what I do well, or at least I think I do. It will be good pub dining room food with the odd French influence. The menu will be shorter and more manageable than Racine as it’s obviously a much larger site. I’ve always liked shorter menus because it means you’re obligated to change more of it more regularly. It may even change on a daily basis.
You’re more of a restaurant chef, what attracted you to the pub world?
The Truscott Arms is a fantastic site. It’s a really nicely set up space, it has the feel of a neighbourhood pub and that’s exactly what we want it to be. We want the people that miss it to come back and we want new people to come too.
The upstairs space was previously home to a sub-branded and more ambitious restaurant, what are you going to do with that?
The first floor space is beautiful and will become the dining room. The whole place is being refurbished. We’re moving the upstairs kitchen to the basement and replacing it with a small bar. The current kitchen is the size of a shoe box, I’m intrigued to know how they did 500 covers out of it. The downstairs will be much the same with a proper pub feel. We’re also going to jazz up the garden.
Sounds like a considerable investment...
Yes. But it’s sensible. The company I'm working for recognises that you need to spend money to do things properly but also that it’s possible to go over the top. We don’t want it to look like we’ve thrown silly money at it. There won’t be any golden chandeliers. We want it to look like a pub.
What about staffing? The Truscott Arms has been closed for a while so all of the staff will have moved on...
Putting a team together is the hardest part of launching any restaurant or pub business these days. Anyone that was working there and would like to come back is very welcome. There may be some of my former team from Racine cooking there too, we’ll see what happens.