published on 02/12/2013
Trinity restaurant, set in a cute quiet lane in Clapham Old Town, is a sleek fine dining restaurant by chef Adam Byatt that has itself 3 AA Rosette.Opened in 2006, it has grown into a foodie favourite for locals and drawn Londoners to head south of the river.
Adam Byatt, who started his career in the kitchen of Claridges Hotel at the age of 15 ,prides himself as a chef,despite making a name for himself as a celebratory chef at numerous cooking shows. His cuisine is the very best of British cooking, playing with classical French training and the best seasonal ingredients to create modern elegant dishes.
The Peut-être Creative Director Nathalie Malric and Lifestyle editor Janice Chian were lucky enough to be treated to lunch at Trinity on a rare sunny September day. The Trinity team offer a wonderful 3 course set lunch for £27, which we decided to have with the wine pairing, that included not only beautiful wines to perfectly complement the dishes, but also an apple cider from Kent made with champagne yeast that accompanied the Trinity’s signature pigs trotter’s dish.
I was fortunate to interview the magician behind the beautiful food, Adam Byatt.
Photos by Nathalie Malric
Interview with Adam Byatt of Trinity Restaurant by Janice Chian.
How would you describe your cooking style?
It’s not easy to pigeonhole. Essentially it is modern British cuisine, I was very classically French trained several years my repertoire is very well versed in French gastronomy, but I take influence from Spain, Italy and France and the wonderful ingredients and methods of cooking is mixed up in there, but ultimately it would be an awful lot of British produce that we cook very classically with use in modern sort but I like to keep it fresh. Modern British.
How often do you change the menu at the restaurant?
We have a menu of 6 starters, 6 mains, 6 puddings plus the tasting menu. We change one dish every week which is also reflected in the tasting menu. Over the course of 6 weeks the whole menu changes. I am very driven by the season and the exciting ingredients coming through and what’s new and interesting.
What is your vision for your cuisine?
Ultimately we are a neighbourhood restaurant and we are trying to be the very best we possibly can be. We want to be the most sophisticated offering and celebratory offering in the area. Always keeping things fresh and growing. I don’t want the restaurant to ever feel staid or formulaic or just chugging along its laurels. But I’m very realistic about not pushing it too far, and to keep it accessible, so that someone can walk past after work and decide just to have a main and a couple of glasses of wine. So I don’t us to become a hyped gastronomic destination that people fly in across the world. I certainly want us to be recognised for producing food that is exemplary standard and trying to do things differently but also it’s a package, it’s wonderful service and wine, there’s a genuine synergy between these things there that we focus a lot and we try to get right and it’s much more than just 3 plates of food and that’s the quest really.
How do you develop the wine pairing?
Pairing food and wine is something that can just be done to tick the boxes but actually I like to pair something innovative, like pairing a beer or a sparkling apple juice, all sorts of different things, just because it’s not a glass of merlot, but it’s the whole team, not just me, that gets involved, when we are producing the tasting menu or a new dish we all get involved in the wine pairing so we all stand behind it.
How did you develop your signature dish?
It’s been on the menu for a long time, it started off as a ragu on toast with an egg, it’s basically a play on an English breakfast if you like, eggs and bacon that’s how it came about and then we recently tried to tidy it up a bit, a bit cleaner, a bit sharper on the plate, less fussing about.
What are your current influences and inspirations?
To be honest it is what is seasonal and what comes in, like right now there is heavy influence on stone fruits and cobnuts, the game season is obviously a big influence for us right now, grouse ,partridges, and wood pigeon and sweet corn, we are very seasonally driven and so it is very much an autumnal at the moment. We’ve worked up a lamb dish for next week of artichokes that have just come into season now that is really lovely and we also have partridges with pear.
Do you use mainly UK sourced food or is it more European?
Over 80% of what we buy comes from the British Isle but we are not precious about it. We use wonderful olive oil from Italy, and we use incredible balsamic vinegars and vinegars, from around the world. We do use wonderful produce from around the world. I am a big fan of Sardinia, which I go to quite a lot, so I like to use the ingredients without it becoming an Italian restaurant. There are some beautiful fragola, and pastas and things that you can bring in with lovely textures that are nice vehicles for flavour that we like to use.
Do you prefer a starter, main or pudding?
As a cook, I’m not as well versed or technical in the pastry as I am in the savoury. But I love it all and have an incredible sweet tooth so I’m pretty constant. I always like having all 3.
What is your favourite dish?
Food changes all the time and I like eating new foods. We do a wonderful whole-salt baked seabass that I love.
Is there any food that you don’t like?
I don’t like ochre. And I don’t like marrow (the vegetable). Only because I can’t find anything interesting to do with it.
What inspired you to get into the food business?
I was very fortunate that I knew from a very young age. My mum was a chef and my grandfather was a chef in the British army, so food and cookery is in my blood, but no one had ever gone out there and done anything professionally or to a large degree. I started very young and I fell in love with it and it worked for me. At school it was something that I excelled at and really the only thing I could do well at. I started at the Claridges hotel at 15 years old and that was that really.
Is cooking something you share with your family?
My children are 5 and 9, so they are very young still. Owning a restaurant is something that my family life, my home life, my social life, my everything, my entire existence basically revolves around. It’s not a job that you can just turn your phone off at 5 o’clock and go home and be done with it. Therefore by default, my children have been very heavily involved in cooking and the restaurant and food, and they’ve experienced some incredible food. We definitely share a love of food in the family which is a nice thing too but it there are parts of owning a restaurant that is tough. I cook at home every now and then but I’m rarely at home where one would cook very often, so it would be once every week or a fortnight that I have a chance to cook at home and do a lovely thing for my wife and children, like just a roast chicken or a casserole, but I like cooking at home with just the family and without the big space and gadgets.
How did you decide to open up your own restaurant?
I opened up my first restaurant when I was 27. I was very young and I’d been working in restaurants for many many years, in some extremely great restaurants. I’m also an entrepreneur in some ways and I always wanted to own my own business and be in control of my own destiny. It just felt right. My schooling of owning restaurants was done by myself and thankfully made some progression and started there. So I started young, learnt loads and I’ve opened 6 restaurants since, opened and sold. I just always wanted to own a restaurant. I wanted to expand out. Owning a restaurant is a lovely thing.It’s not as easy as it seems. Being a chef is one thing, being a great chef is another, and then to be able to manage a whole lot of people, create beautiful cookery and please customers and still run the books. It’s a different skill set and you learn that. I’ve had some ups and some downs but I’ve enjoyed it all and made it to where I am today.
You have a 2nd restaurant, Bistro Union. How do you separate the two?
When we opened Bistro Union, particularly because it’s only a 10 minutes walk away, I was very careful to make sure that the food and the offering differed appealed to a different market. I didn’t want to end up with just 2 restaurants with double the staff and the same amount of customers. So we were very cautious to make sure the food offered came from a different standpoint and price point and the service and vibe was different. And it is it is very different, I love it to bits, but it’s a mainstream good offering bistro, that appeals to family and casual dining and easy eating, its unpretentious and nothing special occasion about it, but that’s done on purpose because Trinity is a special occasion restaurant . In some way it’s allowed us to raise our game at Trinity, making sure that we can be on the top of the tree in Clapham and offer a more special offer because the more mainstream side of the business is covered by Bistro Union.
Would you consider opening another restaurant?
I’m involved in Restaurant Story, that is also partly my restaurant. This is another branch out for me, so if I did another one now it would probably be another Bistro Union or something completely different. I certainly wouldn’t do another special fine dining restaurant like Trinity. They are what they are, there are a lot of moving parts to that restaurant, and it’s not easy to replicate.
What do you love about London?
I was born East, out in Essex area, but moved into London at the age of 16, but I love this city. I’ve been fortunate to go to many cities around the world, and it has something very special going on, especially food wise, it has an incredibly vibrant food scene . I live in Wandsworth and it’s a wonderful neighbourhood, in a way it’s a rural but has a really sense of community about it. I can be in Soho in 20 minutes, in the buzz and midst of all the wonderful things that are available in London. It allows the kids to have a wonderful Metropolitan lifestyle.
What is your favourite London restaurant?
There are so many great restaurants and great things happening all the time. I’m not a regular at any restaurant because I end up going to so many different restaurants all the time, I’ve had some incredible meals in London but don’t go to one particular restaurant all the time.
What part of being a chef do you love the most?
I just love the process of cookery, I enjoy cooking. It’s the centre of my life, I love doing, and don’t get bored of and continually inspired by it. Because you can always be better. I’ve been doing it for 25 years and it still challenges me, that’s a really nice thing really. That’s the part of the chef life that can continually challenge me until I’m growing old and done my time. It’s a moving target, it never stops.
What is your favourite culinary achievement?
There’s no specific moment. I am most proud of the wonderful staff that have come to work with us and moved onto other things, opened up their own restaurants. Seeing that is really special. We’ve won many accolades at Trinity, but these things are very fickle, ultimately I have 3 very busy restaurants in London. And that is a wonderful thing.
4 The Polygon
Clapham, London SW4 0JG
Tel: 020 7622 1199