...in the bottom drawer
I knew I'd lose it so I put it in a safe place, and now I can't remember where it is.

currently stashed in: Cheshire Street, London
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May 28, 2007 || 10:44 pm
Rowley Leigh and Fergus Henderson

A treat from the weekend newsround - two of my all-time favorite chefs talking about their cooking together. Going to Kensington Place was always a highlight of my childhood and growing into adulthood - little did I know, to start with, what a seminal restaurant it was but I always loved the buzz, the huge mural, and the quality of the food, consistently excellent and, especially for that era, innovative. I remember a baked tamarillo dessert that introduced us to the fruit (it seems so dated now, but it was so good!) and the signature scallops with pea puree will always be a dish for my fantasy 'best-of' menu. As a kid I loved the hot pink loo decor and still I fail to find its look dated, in the way that a much-loved place always seems just right and of itself. I'm excited about Rowley's new project that is due to open later this year.

And for the last seven years, since moving back to London, St John and its Spitalfields sister have been my absolute favorite, staple places to eat well, at any time of day. Whether slightly naughty lunches on a workday, of cold lamb sandwiches in a doorstep of good bread with mayonnaise, or bar suppers, or full-on suppers to celebrate something at the Smithfield original, or weekend breakfasts or weekday treat dinners or birthday suppers at the Spitalfields Bread and Wine, Henderson has deprived me of more money than any other restauranteur.

And I don't remember ever leaving unhappy - once, recently, a little pressed for time after a pudding mysteriously failed to appear for rather too long - but always joyful at the quality of the food, savouring each mouthful, and with faith restored by the relaxed atmosphere that both have. Never as expensive as people think, it's possible to eat ridiculously well for very little money in Spitalfields or at the Smithfield bar. I always wonder how other restaurants fail to produce such simple, good food at such utterly reasonable prices when Henderson makes it look so obvious.

And for both of them, that's what comes across in this conversation. Henderson talks about common sense - "I follow the seasons and basically the work’s done for you and nature writes the menu." And it is true - why can't others learn this?



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