Seasonal Surprises

Since opening earlier this year, Lorne has fast become one of the hottest restaurants in London. Featuring a modern British menu, it’s a collaboration between sommelier Katie Exton, formerly of The River Café, and chef Peter Hall, who spent time at three Michelin star Benu in San Francisco.

Where did the idea for Lorne come from?

Pete and I wanted to do something together. We both love hospitality, and we wanted to take everything we’d learnt from our mentors, people like Phil Howard and Ruthie Rogers, and put our own stamp on it all – to offer a little bit of us to the London restaurant scene.

It’s an equal focus on the food, the wine, and a really good sense of hospitality. We give care and attention to every detail but we do all of the work behind the scenes, so for the customer it all seems seamless. We don’t make a big deal about the way in which we serve stuff, or the way it’s prepared, it’s just what we do, but there’s a lot of time and hard work getting it to be what it is.

Is there a wine that you’re particularly excited about at the moment?

It’s very hard to say, it’s like choosing children! It’s currently game season and white truffle time, and I think Piedmont is an area that’s on fire at this time of year. We’ve got a 2015 Langhe Nebbiolo, from an exceptional Barolo producer called Massolino. The fruit comes from younger vines in Barolo vineyards, and it’s just great value for money. It’s beautifully aromatic, has a little bit of tannin and body to it, but at the same time is very versatile, so I think it works equally well with game and fish.

How are your menus and wine list put together?

Pete [Hall, co-owner] and Graham [Brown, chef] work very closely to the seasons, and have very good relationships with our suppliers. Each morning they’re on the phone speaking with the fish supplier, or the butcher, talking about ideas from books, or places they’ve eaten, and they’ll find out what’s in season, what’s tasting good. Then they’ll sit down together and taste things and formulate until the dish is created.

Then for the wine we’ll taste a sauce or an ingredient we’re not familiar with, like oyster leaf, and taste from some bottles that we have open and discuss what we think works. Once the dish is complete we’ll have a good idea of what will suit. It’s a lot of sampling and tasting!

Can you describe the best meal you’ve ever had?

One meal that was important in really making me change my direction was the set lunch menu at Alain Passard’s L’Arpege in Paris. It’s a three-star restaurant and every course was made from vegetables from the garden. I went in not understanding how a restaurant can charge these kinds of prices just for vegetables, but it completely blew me away. The cooking and the experience had a fundamental impact on how I looked at ingredients, and what it meant to be a Michelin-starred restaurant.

What’s always in your kitchen cupboards at home?

There’s always a bottle of sherry in my fridge, and in my larder I always have anchovies and good olive oil. At the moment I’ve got the olive oil we use in the restaurant; one of our staff is Sicilian, and it’s a really peppery extra virgin cold-pressed oil. To dress a salad you don’t need any other seasoning, it’s absolutely delicious.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

KFC, I don’t have it very often. It’s probably left over from being a child, but that special secret blend of spices is so addictive.

What’s your favourite recent dish on the menu?

I love Pete’s sweetbreads. You don’t see many chefs preparing them, and it highlights what Pete as a chef does really well, which is taking very classic dishes that he learnt from places like the Square, then putting his more modern, slightly lighter, fresher twist on it. It changes seasonally, but we’ve had it recently with borlotti beans, broad beans, cauliflower puree and roasted shallot, served with the meat jus. It’s fundamentally just a very delicious plate of food.

76 Wilton Road,