Another London restaurant success story will head for the coastline that plays such a key role in that success. Following the announcement late last year, David Gingell and Jeremie Cometto-Lingenheim, proprietors of the celebrated Primeur, Westerns Laundry, and Jolene in north London, have confirmed they will open Fitzroy in Fowey, Cornwall, this summer.
The focus, unsurprisingly, is on seafood: mussels escabeche, crab with cultured cream, and gurnard with shellfish sauce are all highlights on menu plans. Both Cometto and Gingell cite geographic proximity to the ingredients — and the people that produce, harvest, or catch them — as a key pull to the seaside: “We’re so lucky to be so close to the source of everything the kitchen will be using — we have seaweed, flowers, herbs, roots, right on our door step, fantastic sardines available just around the corner.”
The restaurant will be housed in a former bank, with Cometto designing interiors, as he did for the award-winningly beautiful Jolene on Newington Green.
Of the duo’s three London restaurants, it’s Westerns Laundry, in Holloway, that places the greatest emphasis on British seafood, an almost obligatory preoccupation for ambitious restaurants opening in the city right now, especially those that position themselves as exponents of the cuisine and the produce of the British Isles. Gingell and Cometto-Lingenheim have never made such a claim — their methods and styles lean heavily on continental Europe — but their desire to make a seaside getaway is indicative of how much Cornwall is capturing the attention of London chefs.
Using the county’s produce is nothing new, but building largescale, mutual supplier relationships, particularly with butcher Warren’s; dayboat fishermen Kernow Sashimi and Pesky Fish; and fruit, vegetable and herb growers Sean O’Neill, Ollo Fruit, and Luke Farrell, is a more recent development. Tomos Parry’s Brat, Ben Chapman’s Kiln and Smoking Goat, Gordon Ker’s Blacklock steakhouses, The Clove Club, and Jeremy Chan and Iré Hassan-Odukale’s Michelin-starred Ikoyi are just a few of a clutch of London restaurants placing all bets on the county.
Gingell and Cometto are also not the first to head for the seaside: chef Tim Spedding, formerly of The Ledbury, The Clove Club, and P. Franco, moved down intending to open a restaurant and ended up working at the celebrated Coombeshead Farm. That farm, restaurant, and guest house was set up by Lottie Mew and Tom Adams (with backing from New York City chef April Bloomfield), who built the Pitt Cue restaurant brand when he was 21. Spedding and his partner Louise Rødkjær, like ex-Fera head chef Dan Cox at Crocadon Farm, are planning to open a restaurant and guesthouse in the county.
The pull of Cornwall’s geography is also indicative of a wider point: although there is theoretically less custom, opening a restaurant outside of London is almost always cheaper and less intense than opening one within, and with rents and business rates being hiked, more and more chefs could be looking to escape to the seaside.