Former head chef at the Michelin-starred Harwood Arms Sally Abé will open The Pem at the Conrad London hotel in St. James’s this summer. Abé, who left the Harwood Arms in April 2021 after retaining its Michelin star for four years, will be joined by highly regarded chef Laetizia Keating, also last of the Harwood Arms, and Emma Underwood, most recently at Darby’s, Robin and Sarah Gill’s restaurant in Nine Elms.
The restaurant, named for Suffragette activist Emily Wilding Davidson, will revolve around what Abé calls “taking classic combinations and really making them my own, like steak and oyster, cheese and onion – I won’t be messing with the framework but trying to put a new spin on them without creating challenging or modernist dishes.” She references “having the freedom to serve the food I’ve always wanted to cook,” which will manifest initially as poached lobster with tomatoes, shellfish cream, and olive; a whole roasted John Dory with brassicas, lemon, and sauce Choron — a bearnaise sauce enlivened by tomato; and a riff on a Black Forest gâteau.
Though as yet unfinished, the interior promises an art deco banquette vibe, with a rose pink colour palette, chiming with the “glamorous and elegant” cooking that hotel general manager Beverly Payne says Abé and her team will bring to the restaurant:
“The Pem is the restaurant I’ve always wanted to see in the hotel, it’s glamorous and elegant. It’s very connected to the local area, and it’s going to be a magnet for those who already love Sally’s flair, and for everyone who wants to be excited by her imaginative food.”
Abé and Underwood have said that they intend the restaurant to set standards for employment, telling the Staff Canteen that “Certain chefs going on TV shouting and screaming at people for the last 20 years hasn’t really helped with the image of the industry. What we need to do is promote the good bits: you can learn about food and wine, you get to work in a dynamic, fast-paced environment, which certain people and certainly we thrive on ... “When you create a business model, the sustainability of staff is so often an afterthought. Now, it needs to be at the forefront. You need to start with ‘how can I take care of my staff and how can my business model support them.”
More soon on The Pem.