Unapologetic Michelin star-chaser Chris Denney will open a new London restaurant after three years away. Fiend, which takes over from Santo on Portobello Road, will serve both an a la carte menu and a six-course set tasting, will open on 23 July, and comes from a chef who in 2017 memorably said that if he didn’t win a Michelin star at former Golborne Road restaurant 108 Garage, he would react somewhat alarmingly.
Whether or not London’s restaurant world will still take to an expression of kitchen culture that finds its purpose in “provocative reflection” of a chef’s passion remains to be seen. Dishes are set to include the likes of bulgogi sweet bread with kefir cabbage and green onion, and a wagyu short rib with smoked tomato and Colston Bassett stilton, a mixture of modish globetrotting and reliable flavour combinations that seems tailor-made for the acclaim of the rubber tyre restaurant guide.
The full menus are extensive: a range of “savouries” include wagyu salami, a summer savoury paratha, and the obligatory radishes served with tarama. An initial set menu runs through white gazpacho with chickweed, rye, and salted grape; a choice between John Dory with runner beans, cockles, and a cider beurre blanc or pork belly with blood peach and turnip; and dessert options of a chocolate bar with beer and lime or a rum savarin with coconut and pineapple.
Denney and long-time financial partner Luca Longobardi had been slated to follow up 108 Garage with Southam Street — in the same neighbourhood — but that restaurant never came to full fruition, closing after a matter of months despite some encouraging early reviews.
108 Garage was by all accounts, a good restaurant, but its reputation was perhaps a little outsized because its style was somewhat anomalous in west London; Denney’s approach, which reflected the “bistronomic” styles and peripatetic influences more often found in Parisian caves and east London wine bars drew a starry-eyed review from famously hyperbolic shock-jock restaurant critic Giles Coren declared Denney as a “chef who comes along only once or twice in a decade.” He also called Denney a “kid” in his opening paragraph.
With Fiend, Denney reportedly intends to take “up the mantle as the next great disruptive force in British food.” Whether or not this continuation of the chef-tyro-devil character will land in 2021 remains to be seen.