Tātā Eatery will move into a permanent site on Old Street in 2019, in collaboration with award-winning bartenders Monica Berg and Alex Kratena. Eater London Award winners, Zijun Meng and Ana Gonçalves’ movable restaurant will have its fourth location in two years; this time, it is thought, they have found themselves a degree of permanence. The project is called Tayēr Elementary, and was first reported by Class Magazine.
Meng has told Eater London that he and Gonçalves will introduce a tasting menu, as well as the range of dishes — including the cult Iberico pork katsu sando — that they have been serving since the acclaimed summer residency at Borough Wines in Kensal Rise.
Meng says that most people who know him know how much he dislikes tasting menus, but, he says, he thinks he has “found a way round it.” He almost uses the phrase “molecular gastronomy” before holding himself back. But the team will introduce some retro-creative methods when they open in the new year. Ice cream, for example, will be made using liquid nitrogen. They are keen to leave behind the characterisation that their food is a fusion of Portuguese and Chinese influences, a label used when the duo first opened in 2016.
A whole fish will be deconstructed, and served in multiple, sequential courses — some parts raw, some parts poached, some parts fried. He wants there to be a reason for the tasting menu, not for it to be a parade of disconnected ingredients and tastes. A beef muscle might be another route — again, parts raw, parts grilled, and so on. An ice cream made from beef fat, too.
Meng was also keen to emphasise that it is Tātā Eatery at Tayēr Elementary — in charge of the kitchen, not in residence. There is no fixed term for this project. It could be as close as Tātā gets to opening a restaurant.
Kratena told Hot Dinners that Tātā’s food — “I hope they won’t mind me saying it” — “is drinking food. The menus are going to be very simple. But the idea is to keep it changing.” Kratena and Berg’s new bars — Tayēr, and Elementary, hence the name — are looking to engage with the approaches to seasonality, availability, surplus, and preserving more typically associated with restaurants; a departure from Kratena’s high-art, high-impact approach to drink design and presentation that won Artesian at the Langham Hotel in London ‘World’s Best Bar’ for four consecutive years, in partnership with Simone Caporale.
This approach has been honed alongside Berg — both are members of the ‘Pour Collective,’ a drinks symposium that addresses the changing climate of cocktail culture. Kratena and Berg are founders, along with Caporale, and Ryan Chetiyawardana of celebrated London bars White Lyan, Dandelyan, and Super Lyan. The approach to pre-batching cocktails, using seasonal and local ingredients, utilising waste, and placing theatre in the construction, rather than the presentation of cocktails — now close to ubiquitous in the city’s most exciting cocktail bars, and many of its restaurants — comes from this school of bartending.
TaTa, which means “he and she,” first started as a street food stall on Druid Street market in Bermondsey, piquing the interest of James Knappett who invited the duo to collaborate at his Fitzrovia restaurant, Kitchen Table in 2016. Pop-ups at The Newman Arms pub in Fitzrovia followed, before a long-term residency at Curio Cabal on Kingsland Road, between Shoreditch and Dalston. That closed in August 2017. Tātā returned for hugely successful summer pop-up in Kensal Rise — creating a viral sandwich along the way — before ending the year at the Sir Colin Campbell pub, for a three month pop-up, in Kilburn.