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Q&A with Bryn Williams at Somerset House

Q&A with Bryn Williams at Somerset House

With the Rouxs and the Galvins moving into Tottenham Hotspur’s new football stadium, Eric Chavot entering The Royal Albert Hall and Raymond Blanc continuing his partnership with Royal Ascot, it was only a matter of time before art galleries and museums got in on the action.

Celebrated Welsh chef Bryn Williams has opened his first London restaurant in a decade, located in the famous cultural centre that is Somerset House.

The 80-cover restaurant will offer modern British dining and serve seasonal
dishes where the fruit and vegetable components take centre stage. The veg-centric concept is being described as a “relaxed and contemporary environment”, with “Somerset House’s creative community reflected through the food, service and design”.

The space will also be home to a draught beer bar, the only one on the Somerset House premises, with statement overhead copper casks. Open throughout the day, both bar and restaurant will serve as a hub for Somerset House’s resident creative community and wider visitors.

The restaurant will add to Williams’ portfolio that includes Odette’s in Primrose Hill, where he has held the position of chef patron since 2008.

In addition, Bryn Williams at Porth Eirias, a beach-front restaurant, café and bar on the north Wales coast, opened in 2015. Coming from a strong chef pedigree, working under the likes of Marco Pierre White and Michel Roux, Williams shot to fame as a sous chef in 2006 by beating several established chefs to cook the fish course for the Queen’s 80th birthday celebrations on the BBC’s Great British Menu.

Bryn Williams at Somerset House joins other on-site eating and dining establishments at Somerset House – a Fernandez & Wells outpost, a recently launched Hej coffee shop, Pennethorne’s café and bar and Spring by Skye Gyngell in the New Wing.
We caught up with Williams to find out a little more.

Hi Bryn, can you tell us a bit about your menu?
The menu will have a strong focus on sustainability, seasonality and provenance, with fruits and vegetables taking centre stage. I have not included tasting or pairing menus, to keep within the relaxed and contemporary environment. Instead, we are offering snacks to start off with, followed by starters, spring salads, mains and vegetable side dishes. Desserts will be delicious and fruit-focused.

Is there a bar? Will it offer snacking or small plates?
There is a draught beer bar, which is the only one on the premises at Somerset House. This will be open all day, welcoming those from the creative community or visitors. It will help to enhance the relaxed environment for those wanting to just pop in for a drink and some bar snacks.

What hours will it be open?
It will be open from 10am-11pm on Monday-Saturday, and from 10am-4pm on Sunday.*

Will the restaurant have its own street-facing entrance? If so, do you think it is important for restaurants and bars to have this?*
The restaurant is incorporated within Somerset House with the creative community at the core. It is more important to me to highlight this than to have my own entrance. Everything will be integrated.

Can you provide us with a sample menu or a description of a few of the dishes?
Small plates will include rainbow carrots, hand-dived scallops and sauterne, while main dishes will include roast young broccoli, olive tapenade, sage beignet, scorched Cornish mackerel, and char-grilled leeks, Burford Brown egg and morel mushroom. Dishes will also be available from the grill, and desserts will revolve around fruit, such as poached rhubarb and blood orange trifle.

Sustainable sourcing, fruit and vegetables will be at the heart of the dishes; is this the way modern restaurants should go now given the current dining trends? Or was there a particular reason you have really focused on it?
I’m a firm believer that a piece of fruit or veg should be treated with the same amount of care and respect as a cut of meat or fillet of fish – if not more.
I’m thrilled to be opening a new restaurant where fresh, locally sourced produce is the focus and fruit and veg take centre stage.

Will you be bringing influences from your other restaurants?
My restaurants all focus on using fresh and seasonal produce, which is reiterated here at Somerset House. Using fewer ingredients and making the most of their flavours is a priority.

How important is it for modern leisure sites to improve the level of dining and to introduce destination restaurants within them?
I would like the restaurant to perfectly complement the creative vibe at Somerset House and to provide a relaxed and welcoming setting for the many visitors, artists and residents. The community will be able to dine in a destination that matches the environment of the location.

SAMPLE MENU:

STARTERS
Wild garlic soup, pink fir potatoes, crème fresh

Heritage beetroot, cured organic salmon, smoked rosemary mayonnaise
Compressed watermelon, avocado, Dorset crab, sea vegetables

Pickled radishes, black garlic, apple, pork belly

SPRING SALADS
Salad nicoise, grilled yellowfin tuna

Drumhead red cabbage, beetroot chutney,
British burrata

Charred chicory, sour onions, smoked ricotta,
rapeseed oil dressing

MAINS
Roast young broccoli, olive tapenade, sage,
grilled red mullet
Kale pesto, hand-cut tagliatelle, parmesan
Grilled leeks, barley, buttermilk, Burke Brown egg, mushroom

Roast cauliflower, golden raisins, capers,
soft polenta, salted grapes
Grilled hispi cabbage, apple, pork chop,
cider dressing

Field mushroom, confit shallots, rib eye steak,
triple-cooked chips

ROOTS, TUBERS & LETTUCES
Young broccoli, smoked rosemary mayonnaise
Green & herb salad, house dressing
Triple-cooked chips

Pink fir potatoes, herb butter

CHEESE & PUDDING
Selection of British cheese, fruit chutney,
Nain’s bara brith
Bay leaf panna cotta, blackberry, hazelnut, lime curd
Passion fruit, banana & pineapple, baked vanilla cheesecake
Chocolate pavé, almond, blood orange
Lavender meringue, lemon posset, lavender
& blueberry ice-cream