Chase Lovecky, the American chef who opened (and closed) Two Lights with the owners of the Clove Club and Luca, will make his London return as the resident chef at the game-changing Hackney wine bar P. Franco in Clapton. Lovecky will be in place, behind the counter, cooking on the bar’s hallowed three induction hobs from 19 May, two days after indoor dining is permitted again in England.
“We are thrilled to announce Chase Lovecky as the new resident chef at P. Franco,” the wine bar, which was named Eater London’s restaurant of the year in 2017. “Chase has been part of some of our favourite kitchens around the world from Momofoku Ko, Clove Club, and more recently Two Lights. We are excited to have him cooking on the hobs at P. Franco...
“Look forward to welcoming you all back in!!!”
Lovecky told Eater today, 7 May, that he hoped to keep the “cave au manger feel going by cooking food influenced by wine bars throughout Europe.”
“Im excited to get stuck in as this is the perfect way to get my feet wet before relocating to Europe later in the year,” he added.
He shared a sample menu which included: Smoked mackerel rillettes with lovage and pickled celery; Jersey Royal potatoes with smoked eel and wild garlic; roasted marrow bones with anchovy and persilliade; Largewhite pork with mustard, preserved lemon and turnip tops; plus milk ice cream with stewed strawberries and fennel.
Lovecky and partners Dan Wilson, Isaac McHale, and Johnny Smith (the trio behind the Michelin-starred Shoreditch restaurant the Clove Club and Luca, the smart, modern Italian restaurant in Clerkenwell), announced the permanent closure of Two Lights in November 2020; a little over two years after it had opened.
The restaurant never really got going, somehow falling short of expectations without being bad. Glowing initial reviews didn’t necessarily translate to high foot traffic, so much so the restaurant attempted a modest reinvention with a makeover and slightly adjusted menu in the latter part of 2019. Then the novel coronavirus pandemic hit, with small sites like Two Lights unfeasible with social distancing restrictions in place.
“Sadly after 2 of the craziest years, I have to say goodbye to this tin can of a kitchen today. I would like to thank all of the guests, friends and staff who came along with me during this part of my journey,” Lovecky wrote in November last year.
Fans of Lovecky, fans of food generally, will be hoping the crab and beef fat chip snack makes its own London comeback.
This is the first residency announced by P. Franco since October 2019, when Seb Meyers arrived from France with designs on rediscovering the soul of natural wine.
Before Meyers, chef Tubo Logier had been on the hobs, as “induction commander.” Before him, Anna Tobias — the chef behind the recently opened and wildly successful Cafe Deco in Bloomsbury — spent six months dispelling any notion that P. Franco had become too cheffy; she leaned hard into distinctly untrendy, often beige, entirely unInstagrammable plates. Tobias had replaced chef George Tomlin last September. Before Tomlin, P. Franco and its induction hobs was occupied by chefs: Pepe Belvedere, Giuseppe Lacorazza, Tim Spedding, and Will Gleave. Belvedere and Gleave together now run the kitchen at P. Franco’s sister restaurant, Bright, which opened close to London Fields in May 2018. Gleave, together with Phil Bracey, co-owner and wine aficionado across the group, opened the skewer restaurant Peg, on Morning Lane in Hackney, in February 2019.
Bright has already reopened for outdoor dining; while Eater understands Peg will reopen again later this summer, with a slightly refreshed approach.
Stay tuned for details of Lovecky’s debut menu soon.