Presenting Little Bistro

Posted in 9 May 2018

Merivale is joining forces with renowned British chef Alastair Little for an exciting pop-up restaurant at Level 1, Hotel CBD. Little Bistro will run from 23 April until late 2018, serving a short, seasonal menu characterised by the simplicity and innate good taste that has typified Little’s legendary career.

Affectionately described as the ‘Godfather of Modern British Cooking’, Little’s influence on English cuisine cannot be underestimated. The archaeology graduate with an “inexhaustible fascination with food and wine” took his first job as a selftaught chef in 1965 at the Old Compton Wine Bar in Soho. Before long, he was at the forefront of the British restaurant revolution, replacing the plush grill-rooms and starch formality with bright minimalist design, and Eastern-influenced dishes.

In 1983, he opened the ground-breaking 192 Kensington Park Road and met fellow chefs Rowley Leigh and Simon Hopkinson. By chatting, swapping recipes and sharing stories, the three established a culinary path still followed widely today – flexible menus, primacy of produce and a strict adherence to seasonality – and irrevocably changed the face of British cooking. Notably, this is where the menu being served at Little Bistro began its long evolutionary development.

An early advocate of ethical food, Little opened his celebrated eponymous restaurants in 1985 and 1996 respectively. Here, he cooked to critical acclaim for seventeen years, cementing his name as one of the most interesting and innovative chefs of his generation. After leaving his namesake restaurant in 2002, he opened Tavola in West London, a food and tableware shop that supplied the lucky inhabitants of Westbourne Grove with take-away food cooked by the culinary pioneer.

Now, after four decades in London, he is making his way across the pond for the next era of his career – Sydney, Australia.

Little’s collaboration with Merivale will see forty years of cooking and skill concentrated into a short menu of his recipes – many classics, some familiar, some new, but all have stood the test of time. Think smaller dishes, like ‘pepata of mussels, cooked in white wine, chilli and garlic’ and ‘autumn vegetable minestrone with porcini, new season’s oil and Parmigiano Reggiano’, alongside mains like “roast crown of duck with an apple, potato and rosemary galette, frisee salad” and ‘vegetable tagine with cous-cous and a chermoula relish’.

He describes his approach to the food as “keeping it simple”, noting – “something as fuss free as chicken liver pate or apple tart when executed perfectly can make people sit up and pay attention”.

Alastair Little at Hotel CBD will open for lunch and dinner, Monday-Saturday from 23 April. “Working with Merivale is dream proposition for me”, says Little. “With the support of the group, the staff in place and the venue ready to go, I get the chance to take Sydney by storm, or at least a small section of it, and can focus on what I love most – creating and evolving recipes, and working closely with the people I teach to cook them”.

Asked what excites him most about Australian dining, Little notes – “the sheer vitality and irreverence of it. Nothing is impossible nothing is too hard. Fusion food that is not confusion food. There is no solemnity about Australian restaurants, no hushed temples of gastronomy just enjoyment, often raucous enjoyment. This lack of prejudice and preconception appeals greatly to me”.

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