Margot Henderson and Melanie Arnold have announced they will open a second Rochelle Canteen at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) on the Mall in central London in the second week of October.
The duo will take their renowned Shoreditch canteen format to the art gallery space, creating a brand new café, bar and restaurant on the drag that leads to Buckingham Palace. The Shoreditch venue, which opened in 2006 and is London’s most poorly kept restaurant secret is hidden within the walls of an old Rochelle School yard. They say they will bring their “no rules, and everything will be great — we like parties and we like to have fun” philosophy with them.
Henderson — who is married to St. John’s Fergus — together with newly appointed head chef Ben Coombs have devised a menu that will include, at launch, pumpkin soup; braised cuttlefish and fennel; quail escabeche; pheasant and trotter pie; and an Old Spot pork chop with chard and lentils. A feast of whole pig’s head to share will sit, perhaps a little uncomfortably, alongside vegetarian options that will include roast beetroot, red onion, soft boiled egg and spinach.
The café, restaurant and bar will all serve Caravan coffee and supply homemade baked goods daily. The bar — which will be run by Arnold’s son — Fin Spiteri, will have a focus on classic drinks: Spiteri has designed a concise wine and cocktail list as well as beers. An all day bar menu with snacks will include pork belly and kimchi buns and Montgomery cheddar and chutney toasties.
Henderson told Eater London: “The ICA is very dear to my heart. When I first moved to London it was one of the places I was desperate to visit. I’d seen it in Face Magazine. It was dynamic, exciting, it made a statement — it was a precursor to practically all of the best art spaces around the world.
“It’s a brilliant building; we want to make [the restaurant and bar] more fun. We’re going to make it glamorous — it’s going to be beautiful.”
Head chef Ben Coombs — who has been at Rochelle Canteen in Shoreditch for six months — will be joined in the kitchen by James Ferguson (formerly of Beagle in Hoxton and Rochelle.)
“The menu will be a similar approach and format to Shoreditch — good food, cooked with seasonal ingredients,” Henderson said. “Sometimes the food will reflect the exhibitions, sometimes the seasons will be the inspiration, but the aim will always be to feed people first.”
“And of course mix them a good gin and tonic,” Arnold added.
Institute of Contemporary Arts director, Stegan Kalmár, said in a statement: “I could not be happier to have Margot and Mel joining me at the Institute of Contemporary Arts. For me the ICA is an organisation, a social body, and this social body needs to be fed — and it needs to be fed well, fed by the same passion and integrity that you will find in our programmes.”
Asked why they’d elected to take the space in the ICA, instead of taking on an isolated restaurant location as it becomes increasingly expensive to operate in London, Henderson told Eater London that the infrastructure in place helped them make the decision. “That was actually a part of it. We can actually do it. We’ve been looking for a long time. And it’s more accessible in many ways — guests can enjoy two things [art and food.]”
The duo, through their catering company Arnold & Henderson are familiar with catering for the art world. Henderson said: “The art world goes out a lot. And they like food. After architects, they’re the biggest eaters.”
On catering to a new market in west London and swapping the comparatively low-key premises in Shoreditch for an institution in the heart of London’s Establishment, Henderson, seemed unfazed and quipped, “They have much better cycling outfits in east London — not so much Lycra.”
The art, food and cycling worlds await this exciting new collaboration.
Opening Times: Breakfast from 11am; lunch 12-3pm; dinner from 6pm; café and bar menu all day. Closed Mondays. The ICA is open from 11am-11pm, closed Mondays.