A new restaurant called Hot 4 U has opened on the former site of Monty’s Deli on Hoxton Street. Ex-St. John and Silo chef Eddy Tejada is working with head chef Matthew Scott, who led the kitchen team at Cub — the zero-waste cocktail bar and restaurant on the same east London street — before lockdown. The duo is offering a weekly changing £35 set menu, tapping zeitgeists old and new, for delivery and collection on Fridays and Saturdays: a novel business opening that could foretell the opening of more part-time, non-dine-in restaurants in the months before full reopening.
The restaurant launched two weeks ago offering dishes such as tête de cochon with rosehips and tamarind; rabbit glazed in fig leaf and Szechuan daikon; and milk buns to local customers in the Hackney area. Certain dishes are ready to eat while others are designed to be finished at home, with “customers invited to put their own creative spin on dishes.” Based on the success of that initial trial, the chefs have broadened its scope, now offering citywide delivery (within the M25). Collection is also available at the site. All pre-orders must be made through Instagram DM.
Hot 4 U is described as reflecting Scott and Tejada’s “passion for sustainability and high grade produce,” which wants to offer casual, accessible, and fun dishes for customers during these uncertain times. Though it is currently offering meals only on Fridays and Saturdays, it is planning to offer Sunday brunches in the coming weeks: negronis and egg rolls, plus a takeaway cocktails designed by an ex-Cub bartender. One example cites the voguish foraged ingredient woodruff in a watermelon old fashioned.
Scott said the restaurant was created during lockdown, initially operating out of the chefs’ home, as a means of relieving their “itch”. “We as cooks find it difficult to stay in one place,” he said. “We had never cooked together and fell into an immediate synergetic relationship during the thought process that very naturally carried over into our cooking.”
Hot 4 U will use prestigious suppliers such as Henderson’s Seafood, The Ethical Butcher, and The Estate Dairy; with those ingredients, the chefs going all in on DIY seasonings and bases: creating garum and misos, as well as “psychedelic oils”, and fermented three corner leek capers. Separately, the “Hot 4 U mini-mart” will sell groceries like in-house fermented Estate Dairy cream butter; kimchi; vegetables; and posh eggs.
The location, formerly the Monty’s Deli flagship — a restaurant famous for its outstanding reuben sandwiches and Jewish comfort food — has been vacant since its closure last July. Monty’s was not alone in realising the difficulties of achieving commercial success on Hoxton Street, a key east London thoroughfare that has not been gentrified or transformed in the way comparable Hackney streets such as Broadway Market and Chatsworth Road have in the last 10 years.
“It’s amazing to have the old Monty’s site as it separates our project from home and allows us somewhere to rest at the end of the week. There’s something nice about adding life and purpose into an empty space again too,” Scott said.
Release materials announce that menus “draw on nose-to-tail eating and nod to countries around the world, from Japan to Peru, to create a distinctive style that’s shot from the hip.” As well as explicitly referencing St. John, and Fergus Henderson’s whole-animal approach, the brand also appears tacitly inspired by the work of Modern American chefs David Chang and Danny Bowein, of Momofuku and Mission Chinese, respectively — chefs whose defining, interdisciplinary styles on both coasts of the United States has, save perhaps for Lee Tiernan’s Black Axe Mangal, remained largely outside of the London mainstream.
The crisis of the last two months has presented a new opportunity for Tejada and Scott, which they’ve seized. And yet, before lockdown, the impact and influence of chefs with non-linear approaches was being matched by their talent, creativity, and ingenuity: the development kitchen at Bao Fitzrovia, stewarded by Anaïs van Manen, who also helped launch Snackbar; TATA Eatery’s Ana Gonçalves and Zijun Meng; and Jeremy Chan at Ikoyi.
London will be a much richer and exciting restaurant city if those chefs re-emerge, continue to define trends and tastes, and exert their influence on a new generation buoyed by the availability of new spaces with less suffocating commercial obligations — in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.