Chef and restaurateur Sebby Holmes has confirmed to Eater London that his year-long pop-up restaurant Farang, on the site of what was San Daniele, in Highbury will go permanent, with a new 10-year lease commencing in February.
It comes after Eater London reported in July that Holmes was “talking with the landlord about taking the place on full time, in which case we would re-decorate and ‘Farang the place up’ early in the new year.”
The self-financed restaurant has evolved in the past twelve months and now includes tasting menus (£35 per head) and feasting menus (£45 per head) both of which change weekly, “according to what’s available both in Thailand and the UK,” Holmes said.
He also told Eater London that the team will “do the restaurant up in phases, using the profits made last year. Plus we don’t want to lose the [rustic neighbourhood Italian] heart of San Daniele.” The restaurant has not taken any outside investment and initially opened after Holmes borrowed £4,000 from his grandad. New woks are being installed so the kitchen is able to prepare Thai stir fries in the coming weeks; a new cocktail bar will be installed, from which bar snacks will be served; and an outside terrace is being planned for the summer.
Holmes was part of the small team that opened the original Smoking Goat (which has just announced its closure) in 2015, but before that cut his teeth at what is arguably the progenitor of London’s renascent Thai scene — The Begging Bowl in Peckham, owned by Jane Alty. Holmes is often referenced as one of the so-called Nu-Thai chefs — together with Kiln and Smoking Goat’s Ben Chapman and Som Saa’s Mark Dobie and Andy Oliver — a group of chefs with connections to David Thompson’s school of cooking, who have energised and popularised the cuisine in London over the past three years.
“Farang” (which, appropriately means “foreigner cooking Thai”) began as a street food operation, evolved into a supperclub and private catering business, and at the beginning of 2017 opened on the site of Holmes’ step-father’s Italian restaurant.
Last year Holmes wrote and released the cookbook Cook Thai and has told Eater London that he will write a second this year — on the subject of Thai barbecue — for release in summer 2019.