This April, brothers Danny and Kieran Clancy (aka krankbrother) are launching the highly anticipated ‘Beagle’, a new restaurant set within three beautifully renovated railway arches on Geffrye Street, Shoreditch. Danny has recently had great success with the opening of Bonnie Gull in Fitzrovia, and we’re sure Beagle will be following hot on its heels…
As well as the restaurant, which will focus on seasonal British cooking, the space will be home to a bar (featuring a cocktail menu created by master mixologist Myles Davies), a coffee shop and a huge outdoor seating area – sure to become the place to eat al fresco this summer. In terms of décor, we’ve been told to expect reclaimed railway sleepers, clean brickwork and brushed blackened steel – inspiration gleaned, no doubt, from the site’s unique location beneath the old North London Railway line.
The kitchen at Beagle will be headed up by one of London’s most exciting new chefs, James Ferguson, who has worked under Angela Harnett at the Connaught, Warren Geraghty at L’Escargot and, most recently, with Margot Henderson as the head chef at the critically acclaimed Rochelle Canteen. We caught up with him to discuss what he’ll be getting up to at Beagle, what we can expect from the menu, and his opinion on London’s dining scene…
As well as the overarching British element, are there any foreign influences in your menu at Beagle? Aside from London, where in the world would you say has had the greatest influence on your own culinary style?
My father is half Greek so I am still influenced by the simple, big flavoured approach my grandmother’s family had towards cooking. Food for all the family to enjoy, cooked with love and attention. I also have a big love of northern Italian food.
We understand you’ll be using a traditional wood grill for much of your cooking, could you tell us a bit about how this has influenced the menu? What can diners expect from a meal at Beagle?
The wood grill can add an extra dimension to meat and fish that can’t be replicated on a gas grill. Flavour can be changed depending on what wood you use (sweet chestnut, acorn root etc). I will be using this to great effect by cooking some exciting sharing dishes such as whole brill and rib of beef from the grill. The longer cooking time allows the flavour of the wood to be imparted fully.
How are you going to go about choosing suppliers? What’s your golden rule when it comes to selecting top quality produce?
I’ve got some tried and tested suppliers from my years in kitchens who I will be sticking with alongside some new producers. I try to find small suppliers or farms who sell direct as the quality is always better than with huge companies. You have to get to know and trust the people who supply you in order for the relationship to be mutually beneficial.
You’ve worked with some stars of the culinary world, how far has their influence impacted on your own approach to cooking?
Angela Hartnett had a big influence, as hers was the first restaurant I worked at in London. This was where I really learned a lot of my culinary skills. My biggest influence though is still the cooking I did with my parents at our family restaurant as I was growing up. My father always said that the food came first before personal egos, a lesson a few chefs should perhaps heed.
What would be your ideal dinner at Beagle? Do you have a favourite dish and what should we make sure to include in our order?
I’m a big fan of squid, cuttlefish and octopus and am really looking forward to serving these off the grill. Also I have a rotisserie over the wood grill from which I will slow roast Sutton hoo chickens. I serve these the way I have had them since I was young, with lemon potatoes and aioli. My mood changes all the time as to what I’d like to eat from one day to the next so I hope the menu will provide something for everyone.
What is your impression of the London dining scene at the moment?
The dining scene is really exciting and diverse at the moment. The recession seems to have had no effect. I’m looking forward to trying out The Clove Club down the road from us as I think those guys produce some really thoughtful and interesting food. Please though, no more burger or dirty food joints. We have enough now!
Bookings for Beagle go live on Thursday 14th March.