Opening of the month: Trivet

By Stefan Chomka

- Last updated on GMT

Opening of the month: Trivet restaurant London Jonny Lake The Fat Duck Heston

Related tags Fine dining Michelin Restaurant

Jonny Lake and Isa Bal have swapped the flamboyance of The Fat Duck for something far more low key with their debut solo project. But they still know how to dazzle

Former The Fat Duck duo Jonny Lake and Isa Bal’s new restaurant takes its name from an age-old cooking utensil, an iron tripod placed over fire for a cooking pot or kettle to stand on. Much is made of this on its website, which shows a video of metal being forged into two L-shaped bars that form part of the restaurant’s logo.

Yet for many, a trivet is an object placed on the table to protect it from a hot pan. Whichever image is conjured up by the name, the restaurant itself is much less ambiguous. Lake, a chef who has worked at Heston’s three-star Bray flagship for 13 years, including nine as executive chef, and Bal, who spent 12 years as head sommelier at The Fat Duck Group, have created a restaurant of calm ambition – one that reflects their time in one of the world’s most feted dining rooms, but with a subtlety almost verging on introversion.

Trivet’s dining room, for example, is muted, with different shades of brown (and the occasional orange) the only colours that seem to have been considered. While this could potentially feel a bit dowdy at lunchtime, at dinner the modest colour scheme creates a relaxed atmosphere, aided by the light from the open kitchen that is a focal point of the room.

The site Trivet occupies in Snowsfields, a short hop from London Bridge station, was the ill-fated Londrino, chef Leandro Carreira’s debut solo restaurant that barely saw out a year. As a result, Lake says the pair haven’t had to do too much in the way of refurbishment, with the kitchen predominantly staying as is but for some minor tweaks to reflect the change in style of cooking. The biggest changes have been the lowering of the ceiling by about six feet and the moving of the wine cellar out of the kitchen and into the dining room, but many features, including the floor, have been retained.

The restaurant’s approach to food is equally understated. Trivet’s lack of frippery is conspicuous – more so given the pair’s grounding in a restaurant where ostentation is everywhere – with a notable absence of snacks, mid-course extras or palate cleansers. Instead, Lake has opted for a simple 5-5-5 à la carte with diners encouraged to order all three courses at the same time, rather than be presented with a separate dessert menu later in the proceedings.

HokkaidoPotato.Baked-potato-Millefeuille,sake,-and-whitechocmousse,-butterandsakegelato

The Canadian-born chef’s cooking is creative and precise (as one would expect given his experience), with starters including an exceptional plate of veal sweetbreads with raw mushroom and cumin; and intricate desserts such as Hokkaido potato, a baked potato mille-feuille with sake and white chocolate mousse, butter and sake gel (pictured); and a Beenleigh blue cheesecake. If anything, it is with the mains Lake is at his most conservative, with dishes such as chicken with a vinegar sauce; and Iberico pluma with beetroot and shiitake mushroom seemingly not pushing his obvious talent as much as one might expect.

Prices reflect Lake’s pedigree – starters begin at £14.50 and hit £21 and mains go from £26 to £38 – but a bar menu allows one to snack for considerably less. Here dishes include fries with onion ketchup (£4.50); chicken wings with wasabi mayo (£8.50); and fried polenta with gorgonzola and grated Wiltshire truffle (£8.50).

Then there’s the wine list, a 350-plus selection put together by Bal, notably featuring an extensive selection of wines from the Middle East, Georgia and Armenia as well as more obvious wine producing countries. Bal has taken the unique approach of putting the list in chronological order, starting at around 7,000 BC (Georgia, Armenia and Turkey), and including 4,300 BC (Lebanon, Syria and Israel). Old World wines come in the 700-650 BC bracket and New World wines in at 1550 AD (there is a speculative 3000 AD listing from Mars which was oddly unavailable on our visit).

Bal, a Master Sommelier, has selected numerous natural wines to accompany those made with more conventional methods but has ensured that, despite listing some lesser known regions and varieties, Trivet’s wine list is both accessible and appealing to all. He admits it is lacking some big-hitting premium reds, but says these will be added when cashflow permits.

In interviews, Lake has said he wants Trivet to give people an experience like never before. Having spent a decade helping Heston do this at Bray, he’s more than qualified in this area. With Bal by his side, he looks to have nailed it.

36 Snowsfields, Bermondsey, London
www.trivetrestaurant.co.uk

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