Margot Henderson and Melanie Arnold run one of London’s most revered (and semi-secret) restaurants: Rochelle Canteen, on Arnold Circus in Shoreditch, has been a place to eat for those in the industry or in-the-know, an exhibition of simple, seasonal British cooking. Earlier this month the duo brought the concept to a bigger, altogether more public space at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) on The Mall, off Trafalgar Square. The two locations could not be more contrasting, yet the design, ethos and food remains at ease in its new location.
The original Rochelle is housed in a conservatory in the grounds of an old school (now studio spaces) in a walled garden, a retreat from Shoreditch’s main street; here, at the ICA, on the red road that runs from London’s busiest roundabout to Buckingham Palace, the white-washed space, with flashes of primary colours, rests quietly, bathed in natural light.
It is notable not only because of Rochelle’s reputation, the operators’ connection to Fergus Henderson’s pioneering British restaurant St. John (both Margot, Fergus’ wife, and Arnold were part of the opening team), but also because going into a space with an existing infrastructure and captive market might just be a move made by more and more of the city’s best and most established restaurateurs in these uncertain times.
For sure, Rochelle Canteen sets a new benchmark for gallery dining in London.
Here’s a look inside:
The dishes are an exhibition in simple British cooking
A takeaway counter caters to the ICA staff
Rochelle Canteen at the ICA is open now.