In the third restaurant from the group that runs the Michelin-starred Modern European restaurant the Clove Club, in Shoreditch, and the British-Italian neo-trattoria Luca, in Clerkenwell, London has its first modern American restaurant, a 52-cover site on Kingsland Road.
Two Lights, which is led by chef Chase Lovecky, an American alumnus of Momofuku Ko, Jean-Georges, and, most recently, The Clove Club itself, is much more than a Clove Club lite. Instead, it takes cues from Momofuku and David Chang’s peripatetic style, The Clove’s own bold, offal-positive Britishness, and also elements of French classicism.
Modern American, like Modern British, is a term that indicates a style of restaurant that has deliberately and pro-actively broken from the past; innovated out of stereotype; it is a label created for a restaurant that, according to traditional rankings, is without categorisation.
When asked to define, as best he can, what modern American cuisine is, Lovecky cites three American chefs and dishes to make his case: Wolfgang Puck’s tuna sashimi pizza, Roy Choi’s Korean tacos, and his mentor David Chang, whose Momofuku brand has changed American cuisine in the past decade — “he developed a style that’s unique” — one of the principal architects of the informalisation of fine dining in the States. “It looks simple, but there’s a lot of technique. All these different cultures amalgamate into a cuisine,” Lovecky says. “It also comes from my own travels.”
Two Lights takes its name from the National Park in Maine, New England, where Lovecky calls home. And in a city where so many new openings are derivative and without real imagination, it represents a new type of neighbourhood restaurant in an ever-improving Shoreditch, a local restaurant designed as much for the casual couple-of-glasses-of-wine-and-a-couple-of-plates crowd as it is those who want to come for a multi course sit-down dinner proper. And as if to emphasise his own love of informality and “snacking ingredients,” he says, half-jokingly, “I’m not ashamed to be eating ramen noodles in bed at midnight.”
Take a look around Two Lights, which opened last week.