New head chefs Rosy Rong and Stephen Simon are taking the food in their Houses to the next level with nourishing, beautiful dishes designed to draw in members
“The figs are really beautiful,” says Rosy Rong of a dish of a new dish of figs, plums, feta and black olives that has just appeared on the menu at Little House Mayfair. “You soak them in chilli brine, which tones the sweetness down and makes it more of a savoury dish when you add pickled chillies, feta, black olives and fresh mint. Using fruit in savoury dish is not very conventional but if it’s done right, it’s amazing and something people don’t often get the chance to experience.”
The new Little House head chef, who joins by way of The Store Kitchen and St John, has spent the past five months developing dishes like this and is excited to see what members make of her new menu. It’s made up of what she describes as “refined rustic” dishes – imaginative enough to draw people in, yet simple enough to be eaten every day.
Favourites include a roasted carrot dip with crudités, and a wild-caught Aberdeen monkfish, cooked in butter and olive oil and served with aioli and a simple red pepper and black olive stew. “I always grew up believing that food should be nourishing as well as delicious,” she says. “I don’t believe that these health-eating fads really nourish you. A dish is about more than the sum of its ingredients, caloric intake – the experience of eating itself nourishes you, especially when you’re eating with friends, and when the food looks amazing as well.”
A short walk away at 76 Dean Street, Stephen Simon has also been thinking a lot about how to create healthy food that’s also enticing. The menu he has created since taking over as head chef a few months ago is 50 per cent plant-based, with dishes like smoked celeriac with orange, fennel and toasted almonds putting vegetables centre-stage. “When we first opened, our food was really leading the way in Soho House,” says Jamie Kerr. “Now as the world around us has moved on a little it’s time for us to up our game and make sure we’re as modern and appealing as possible.”
A plateful of baby aubergine halves, grilled until almost creamy and scattered with slivers of fresh red chilli, spring onions and mint leaves, disappears very quickly on the House Four photoshoot. “With a dish like this you have to make sure the produce is amazing,” says Stephen, who previously worked at Claridge’s and Helene Darroze at the Connaught before reopening Café Boheme last year. “I’ve spent a lot of time looking for the right suppliers and making sure that everything is colourful and looks great.”
The high proportion of plant-based dishes is a response to demand from members and guests who are more conscious of their health and the environment. But there are still some standout meat and fish dishes for those who have yet to go full-time vegan – fillet of cod with coconut & basil broth and turmeric being one, and Swaledale lamb chops with broccoli rice and ginger another.
“Rosy and Stephen are both looking really strong in their new roles and I’m so happy with how these menus have turned out,” says Kady Yon, UK executive head chef. “You can see how they’ve taken the food to the next level and made 76 and Little Houses places that people will want to go just to eat.”
Go and try them while they’re still in season – the Little House chef is already thinking about the grilled persimmons she’ll replace her fig dish with. “We’ll be doing them grilled, marinated in orange juice, with raw sheep’s cheese shaved on top,” she says.