“There is nothing more rewarding than seeing a great idea begin to work, a great chef on the top of their game with a profitable business behind them both. Our role is to be behind the scenes to help make these ideas happen.”
Chris Barber, Managing Director, Leiths Food Solutions
And so we come to The Blacksmith & The Toffeemaker. Chris Barber is helping ex Leiths student Marc Dalla Riva and Matt Rixabout start up their first exciting new pub venture, which is based in Clerkenwell – London N1. And be advised that if you are looking for a typical gastro pub this will not be for you! The Blacksmith will be an ale and gin bar, with a food menu to support it. Food will be ready to go traditional pub fare, backed up with daily produced stews and hot pots.
So where did the unusual name for the pub come from? It’s actually named after a song by Jake Thackray and as pub names go, its certainly catchy. The first time landlords hail from Yorkshire and have taken over and revived the beautiful old Queen Boadicea on St John Street, to create a utilitarian style alehouse meets gin palace. Against all modern contemporary styles, they have decided to go seriously traditional and keep the pub all about good British booze – real ale, gin and whisky – and honest cooking. There’ll be rotating guest ales, own-brewed Blacksmith Best Bitter plus unusual gins such as London’s Sipsmith, Berkeley Square and Hayman’s Old Tom. Whiskies will include Dalmore 18 year old, Auchentoshan Three Wood and Lagavullin.
Head chef Chris Barber is in charge of the menu and there will be no pretentious Thai cooking here. The pub grub will feature a pared down selection of modest and affordable bar snacks, most of which come fresh from an enticing deli counter at one end of the bar. The pub will also feature a roast that will change on a daily basis and home made hotpots. More traditional delights from the up and coming menu include black pudding scotch eggs, artisan cheeses and British cured meats – ordered and all will be served within minutes. If you fancy something a little bit more substantial then try out the roasted tomato soup, potted duck and pickles, fresh crab salad, roast pork belly with sage and onion stuffing, sprout tops and roasties, salmon fish-cakes with spinach and chive butter or calf’s liver, bacon and bubble and squeak.
In a complete departure for a typical London pub, the décor is pretty sparse but comfortable so I’m told. And one of the best bits, which I have left until the end, is that the pub will have some great live entertainment from up-and-coming bands every weekend so watch out for that. And for the more sedentary among you, there will be that time old tradition of the weekly pub quiz.
The Blacksmith & The Toffeemaker, 292-294 St John Street, EC1, 07958 958 351