What: A 'vegetable-centric' dining experience designed to creatively showcase different seasonal produce, set under the railway arches in the heart of London's Borough Market.
Who: The concept has been spearheaded by Tomas Lidakevicius, who was previously executive head chef at Jason Atherton's Michelin-starred City Social restaurant in the capital, and Charlie Foster, son of Caroline and Fred Foster who started Turnips in Borough Market more than 30 years ago. Lidakevicius only took over the role heading up the City Social kitchen in June last year, and while he declined to comment on why he left the role, he told BigHospitality that the opportunity to take on his own project is something he has been keen to explore for a while. Lidakevicius was part of the City Social team when the restaurant originally launched in 2014, working as a junior sous chef. The following year, however, he moved on to work as a senior sous chef at The Corinthia’s Northall restaurant, before going on to become head chef of the Peninsula Restaurant at InterContinental London. Under Lidakevicius’ leadership, the Peninsula achieved three AA Rosettes and was featured in the Michelin guide.
The food: The menu will be driven by Turnips’ daily delivery of fruit and veg, with Lidakevicius looking to constantly shift and adapt dishes according to what’s best in season. The dining space is split into two areas, with dedicated seating around where the Turnips stall usually trades serving a selection of small plates and cocktails; while under the arches across the road, Lidakevicius will be serving a five-course tasting menu (priced at £65 per person) prepared in a small shipping container-converted kitchen. The more casual small plates offering includes dishes such as sweet potato and lentil croquettes (£6); sweet ’n’ sour Brittany cauliflower with sesame seeds (£5); Provence tomato bruschetta with cavolo nero pesto (£6); and pork belly with Corsica peach compote (£9). The tasting menu, meanwhile, features a more elevated offering that's rooted in fine dining. Example dishes to feature on the menu include Provence tomatoes mixed with prawns and topped with flying fish roe; Yorkshire beans and peas with 48-hour short rib; philibon melon marinated in lemongrass and chilli; and tulameen raspberries served with milk chocolate and matcha. A reduced à la carte offering featuring dishes available on the tasting menu is served on Sundays.
The vibe: The festoon-lit space under the market’s arches is neat and spacious, with extra distance put in between tables to ensure social distancing is adhered to. While the summer weather remains kind, the concept is guaranteed to thrive, but during the winter it is likely to be a much harder sell. Lidakevicius is confident, though, explaining to BigHospitality that there are plans to install several outdoor heaters to ensure the outdoor space remains inviting to diners, even after the temperature starts to drop.
And another thing: Rather than the more traditional sweet wine, Turnips pairs its desserts with cocktails, which includes a tropical highball drink combining Indian mango and scotch whisky; a fruity twist on the gin-based Martinez cocktail that's served 'deep and bitter'; and a tiki-style cocktail combining rums with French black cherry.
43 Borough High St, London SE1 9AH