Named in honour of Davidson, whose family used the pet name ‘Pem’ for her, the new restaurant celebrates generations of pioneering women leading from the front, which is reflected in Abé’s choice of senior team. Head chef at The Pem will be Laetizia Keating, who has previously worked with Abé at the Harwood Arms, and before that at restaurants including Benu and Mirazur, while Emma Underwood, previously of Darby’s restaurant, has been appointed general manager.
Opening on 1 July, the restaurant is described as being a more refined, more considered, and more sophisticated take on Abé’s cooking and will build on the foundations of historic British cuisine celebrating familiar flavours and ingredients but interpreting them in her own way.
Dishes on the launch menu will include poached native lobster, shellfish cream, heritage tomatoes and sweet olive; roasted John Dory, with brassicas, lemon, and sauce choron; and black forest gateau, chocolate curls, and English cherry ripple ice cream.
The wine list has been put together by sommelier and wine consultant Emily Harman of VinaLupa.
“I have the freedom to serve the food I’ve always wanted to cook. It’s me on a plate. I’m taking classic combinations and really making them my own, like steak and oyster, cheese and onion – I won’t be messing with the framework but trying to put a new spin on them without creating challenging or modernist dishes,” says Abé.
“I want to bring a sense of familiarity and transfer those flavours to high-end restaurant dining. I’ve also put a lot of emphasis on the desserts, too many people miss out on the last course when they eat out and I’ve never really understood that.”
The 70-cover restaurant will also have a private dining room for up 24 guests and will have a ‘rosy-hued’ art deco-inspired design, with pink banquette seating, maroon rugs and red textiles.
“The Pem is the restaurant I’ve always wanted to see in the hotel, it’s glamourous and elegant. It’s very connected to the local area, and it’s going to be a magnet for those who already love Sally’s flair, and for everyone who wants to be excited by her imaginative food,” says Beverly Payne, general manager at Conrad London St James.
“Sally and I share the same work ethic and instincts when it comes to delivering a really top-class experience. We both very much lead from the front to create excellence, strong teams, and inspiration for a new generation of chefs and hospitality professionals.”
The restaurant follows on from the opening of The Blue Boar Pub in the St James’s hotel earlier this month, where Abé also oversees the menu. The hotel’s first cocktail bar, The Hedgerow, will also open in July.