Inside Bonhams
Master chef

Bonhams Magazine

Issue 41, Winter 2014

Page 60

Inside Bonhams
Master chef

Bonhams Magazine

Issue 41, Winter 2014

Page 60

Inside Bonhams
Master chef

Bonhams Magazine

Issue 41, Winter 2014

Page 60

Bonhams' London headquarters will soon open a sleek restaurant with the talented Tom Kemble at the helm. Bruce Palling reports

It is not often that a brand new restaurant in a brand new space opens off Bond Street, but this is what will happen when Bonhams Restaurant opens in its state-of-the art Mayfair headquarters in New Bond Street in December. At the helm is 31-year-old Tom Kemble, one of the most interesting of the younger generation of British chefs who have traveled abroad to further their culinary education. After studying History of Art at Nottingham University – an appropriate subject for someone cooking in the restaurant of an auction house – Kemble has worked at a number of highly acclaimed restaurants, including Faviken in Sweden and Hedone in west London. But this is the first time that Kemble will be in charge, and he is keen to make his mark.

Tucked away in Haunch of Venison Yard behind Bonhams' main saleroom, the restaurant has been created with a sleek, pared-back design by architects Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands. "We have designed Bonhams new bar and restaurant as a seamless extension of the auction house," explains Alex Lifschutz. It will not just be open to auction-goers, but as Lifschutz points out: "Bonhams can now offer the total immersive experience – an opportunity to taste vintage wines on sale, enjoy a delicious meal and then go on to an auction in lofty, gloriously lit salerooms."

Even the chef is impressed. "Going into something that is a new build and a new restaurant is really enjoyable, especially when it is my first head chef position," Kemble says. He doesn't want to be pinned down as to the style of his cuisine, but says it is "a blend of French technique with Italian and Scandinavian produce, presented very clearly on the plate. I am obsessed with ingredients and I want to concentrate on seasonality. The whole point with this style is identifying exceptional produce and handling it sensitively."

He has certainly made an impression upon Rowley Leigh, one of the doyens of British cooking. Leigh thinks "Tom is a very good and talented young chef. He has a clean touch, is imaginative in his approach and also understands flavor combinations exceptionally well." It is not surprising that Kemble has worked with Magnus Nilsson at Faviken and Mikael Jonsson at Hedone, as both are also passionate about sourcing the right ingredients. Faviken has gained a worldwide following despite being on a country estate just beneath the Arctic Circle. "I am trying to rework quite a few of the processes that I learned up at Faviken, but I will not be attempting to recreate Sweden here," Kemble states.

During Kemble's year at Hedone as sous chef, one of the key lessons he learnt was "to put fewer ingredients on the plate – too many restaurants rely on contrived presentations with produce that is out of season, so it lacks clarity and distinct flavours."

At first, the restaurant will be open for breakfast and lunch, although light refreshments will be available in the afternoon. Traditional scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, eggs Benedict, omelet with chives and wild mushrooms, plus a black pudding dish with cream and sourdough will feature in the mornings.

At lunchtime there will be no set menu, but for those who don't have time for several courses, Tom is contemplating a special main dish including coffee and wine. There will be no tasting menu either, so he plans to serve generous portions. Lunch might include a starter of flame-grilled Cornish mackerel with baby endive, crapaudine beetroot and sesame kombu dressing, followed by a dish inspired by Pascal Barbot of the three-star Michelin L'Astrance in Paris: slow cooked chicken thigh and pressed chicken breast cooked in the pan with miso glazed aubergine, quinoa, olive and gem lettuce. Desserts include chocolate cream with praline crisp and passion fruit sorbet. Charcuterie such as belotta ham, salami, jambon persillé will be on offer downstairs, where the granite bar is finished in upholstered leather with embossing and stitching.

Wine will also play an important part in the restaurant, under the guidance of sommelier Charlotte Edgecombe, formerly of Bibendum. Special tastings and dinners will highlight major growers such as Antinori in Italy or Drouhin in France. "We have bought some exceptional wines at auction and also purchased some special wines en primeur to lay down for future drinking," says Richard Harvey, Head of Bonhams' Wine Department. Even at this early stage, Harvey has got his hands on some sought-after wines, such as Domaine Romanée-Conti Richebourg 1995, Chateau Cheval Blanc 1982 and Screaming Eagle 2011, one of the most famous Californian Cabernet Sauvignons. Thanks to two high-tech Enomatic dispensing machines, guests can drink superb wines by the glass. As Harvey says, "Our pricing policy will be fair, so as to encourage people to sample some great wines at very affordable prices."

Back in the kitchen, Kemble is preserving lemons and kohlrabi while testing game dishes for the winter menu. Now auction goers and shoppers in Bond Street will have somewhere to eat great food and drink superb wine in strikingly stylish surroundings.

Bruce Palling writes for Newsweek.

Bonhams Restaurant will open in December.
Please visit bonhams.com/restaurant for details.

Related auctions