So, we’re open at Covent Garden. Little did I think when I dragged old straw bales into the garage at Islington, that 2 years on I’d be here in the West End. But here we are and what an amazing experience it has been pulling the place together in less than a month. Funny that one week in, it already feels like home.
It’s been a lovely time of year to start cooking again, autumn brings such a rich harvest and as the weather turns colder, the salads give way to heartier soups and stews. This week we had a box of monkfish sent up to us from Cornwall. The fishermen we buy from work on day boats, so their catch is hugely weather dependent. But the advantage for us is that because they don’t use any mechanical nets, only the static nets and pots that come off their boats, we never know what they are going to bring in. And for our way of cooking, it always means there will be a surprise.
Venison is great at this time of year too. Slow braising with herbs and spices brings out all the rich flavours. It’s always better after a couple of days resting in the thick winey sauce. We buy ours farmed from Sussex. I’m thinking of making venison pie for Sunday lunch.
We had the very last of the poly-tunnel strawberries from Chegworth Valley Farm this week, macerated in Marsala and black pepper with the richest yellow Jersey cream. Now it’s pears, plums and apples all the way to Christmas.
We’ve had a great first week, far exceeding what we expected, despite not taking bookings. And already we’re getting repeat customers, particularly from the theatres around us. On those long matinée days, the cast, crew and musicians need somewhere close by to escape for a homely supper before the curtain goes up.
It’s one of the mantras we always stand by: that the people who make us successful are the ones who come back.