À La Carte is a new series to give our readers a peek behind the swinging doors of London’s best and busiest kitchens. We’ve been talking to the people cementing London as one of the world’s tastiest cities, finding out what makes them tick and making sure that our readers are given access to their favourite recipes. This time around, we made a visit to The Kitchen at Holmes, a new restaurant in Marylebone led by Head Chef Stefano Motta (I Faggi, SD26, Margot and Bricole) and cocktail aficionado Pepe Corallo (Mr Foggs, Coya London, Blakes Hotel, Aqua, Nobu). Together, Stefano and Pepe have created a modern dining experience that celebrates exceptional produce, flavours and techniques from around the world.
The Kitchen at Holmes’ menu is difficult to pin down, it takes a thorough read before it begins to make sense and that’s the beauty of it. Mirroring London’s gloriously eclectic cultural makeup, the menu is a patchwork of styles and flavours that have inspired Stefano:
“I envisaged the menu to be modern but focused on pleasure; crowd pleasing but special. An exciting but welcoming experience so I’ve pushed beyond classic dishes and taken inspiration from the best of the contemporary scene for something that feels very London: international, everything is a little special, a little luxury, à la mode, elevated but not challenging for the sake of it. That’s the Italian in me, we’re hedonists.”
In true The Kitchen at Holmes style, the dishes that were brought to us took us through England, Scotland, Spain and even Alaska. Highlights were a luxuriously rich Scottish black angus beef carpaccio complemented by foie gras and black truffle shavings, followed by a 42 days dry-aged English longhorn côte de boeuf. It was, admittedly, enough rich meat for a month or so, but the careful preparation showed how much the ingredients mean to Stefano: the whole culinary experience was well-balanced, at times excitingly surprising and accompanied by thoughtful service from start to finish.
When it comes to cocktails, we recommend settling calmly into the capable hands of Pepe Corallo who has devised a cocktail menu which is at once fun-loving and sophisticated. Many of the bar’s signature cocktails make reference to the legendary detective who supposedly lived only minutes from the site of The Kitchen at Holmes – it wouldn’t be a complete trip to the bar without a taste of ‘Sherlock’s Pipe’, Pepe’s signature cocktail served in a delicate glass pipe. Sufficiently full of fine wine and sumptuous meat, we caught a moment with Pepe to discuss the art of making cocktails and he kindly left us with the recipe to KT Time, a gin-based mix that’s sure to begin a night in the right direction.
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Pepe Corallo’s top picks:
“Firstly, I love copper, so most of the shakers and strainers I use at Kitchen at Holmes are copper coloured. On that note, my top three pics are:”
“We brew our own in-house teas, for example our Chai tea, for most of our cocktails. A lot of the art of cocktail making is in the presentation and style, so I like to make sure that all steps in the process are done to the best level that they can be done both stylistically and in terms of taste.”
“All of our syrups are homemade and the team and I spend a lot of time working with the Kitchen and working with our talented chefs to understand how we can better extract a specific flavour. We have an amazing sherbet syrup which I absolutely love. For the KT Time it actually takes us about four and half hours to prepare our hibiscus syrup, we add small portions of highly refined sugar to make sure that the hibiscus flavour is perfectly balanced and does not dissipate from the original tangy yet delicate taste.”
I like to treat my cocktails as potions and have to measure everything to the finest portion.