Matt Wells and Andrew Bradford, co-owners of Clapham steakhouse Knife, have opened new modern-British neighbourhood bistro 24 The Oval, Hot Dinners reports.
Wells, who also co-owns Clapham institution The Dairy and its various offshoots with parter Robin Gill, reportedly told Hot Dinners that the restaurant aspires to “a neighbourhood vibe with non-pretentious, quality, ingredient-led cooking.” It’s a mission statement that’s only reinforced by the complete lack of pomp and ceremony surrounding its opening — the restaurant has been up and running since early April, the only announcements made by way of Instagram, and printed signs taped to the shopfront for the benefit of passersby.
The lowkey approach to opening is refreshing in London’s otherwise PR-dominated dining scene, but it belies the serious pedigree of the team behind 24 The Oval. Wells and Bradford have stacked the kitchen with alumni of The Dairy family, including Simon Woodrow (former head chef of Paradise Garage) and George East (formerly of The Dairy).
Also refreshing is a menu that eschews the voguish small-plates approach for a more traditional format. Though perhaps not yet ready to completely embrace the old starters/mains/desserts triptych, smaller dishes — English asparagus, salt cod brandade, garden radishes; lamb sweetbreads, fresh curd, shallots, garden herbs — flow naturally into larger plates like BBQ monkfish with smoked mussels, salsify and seaweed, or bavette with bone marrow, tropea onions and seed granola. A range of sides speak to British vegetables in a manner that’s immediately familiar and welcoming, and further drives home the non-pretentious neighbourhood line.