With Piccolino and The Restaurant Bar & Grill introducing a bunch of exciting new spring dishes earlier this month, we have a chat with the men behind the menus….
Andrew Owen – The Restaurant Bar & Grill
James Gingell – Piccolino
Five quick-fire questions with James Gingell, the brand development director at Piccolino and Andrew Owen, Executive development chef at The Restaurant Bar & Grill….
1. Tell us a little bit about the new menu.
James: Slow braised dishes and root vegetables give way to lighter dishes, including topped bruschetta’s, salads, seasonal pastas and grilled meats. Pizza classics Piccante and Pollo parmigiana mark a return to the menu this season along with Piccolino classic, crostini con fegato.
Andrew: The new menu is quite eclectic, taking its influence from classic dishes around the world. Spring is a particularly exciting time of year as it brings with it better weather and a wealth of ingredients. At The Restaurant Bar & Grill, as the name suggests we are very much about the grill. Our meat is grilled over charcoal with flavours of smoke and fire. To sit alongside this we have put together some great salads using lovely seasonal ingredients. A favourite is the Severn & Wye kiln smoked salmon, with asparagus, sprouting broccoli, baby gem leaves and pea shoots, lightly dressed with a sweet mustard vinaigrette. The new menu also features Spring lamb cutlets cooked over charcoal in our tandoori ovens.
2. Where do you find your inspiration for new dishes?
James: New dishes are usually inspired by my favourite Italian cookbooks, The River Café Green and Bocca di Lupo and through conversations with suppliers.
Andrew: I try to work well ahead of a menu change, spending weeks discussing ideas, carefully sourcing ingredients, and cooking up dishes. I find inspiration from anywhere and everywhere. Places I visit, whether that be a restaurant or market place, books, magazines, or even friends and family. The food we eat is very much at the forefront of everyone’s mind and people love to talk about what they like or dislike.
3. How do spring ingredients compare to winter?
James: The choice of ingredients to choose from during spring is the most extensive and exciting of all the seasons. Hearty stews and soups give way to lighter dishes and we begin to use peas and beans in pods, shoots, crunchy lettuce leaves, spring lamb and the first of the years’ softer fruits.
Andrew: Spring is an exciting time. Every season has stay ingredients, but as the weather warms you begin to see a greater array of British seasonal vegetables such as asparagus, new season potatoes, spring greens, rhubarb etc.
*Did you know? James Gingell, a classically French trained chef, spent many years living and working in Australia, where he first fell in love with Italian cooking.
4. What’s your favourite dish on the new spring menu?
James: My favourite dish on our new menu is the Risotto primavera, which basically translates to ‘spring.’ Combining creamy buttery risotto rice with peas, broad beans, tender stem broccoli, asparagus, courgette and crunchy pea shoots, the ingredients just cry spring! It’s a great dish for vegetarians and I like how it can provide a suitable lunch time bite or a substantial main course dinner dish.
Andrew: I like food to be un-fussy with a simple taste. You can’t beat a great steak from our butcher grilled over charcoal or Wild sea bass from Wing of St. Mawes in Cornwall.
Steak and Lobster special
5. What is your favourite dish to eat ‘alfresco’?
James: When eating alfresco there is nothing better than a simple piece of fresh fish and a crisp leaf salad. A particular favourite of mine is the Branzino Con Gremolata . We source the Roast wild seabass from St Mawes, Cornwall and served with garlic and rosemary potatoes, roasted cherry tomatoes, black olives and garlic.
Andrew: I like to barbecue, it’s all about the main ingredient, whether that be fresh fish or marinated meats cooked over charcoal, accompanied by some great seasonal salads and a good bottle of wine.
Kiln Smoked Salmon salad
*Did you know? Andrew Owen has worked at Individual Restaurants for 14 years, starting out as head chef at the very first Restaurant Bar & Grill in Manchester.
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