The short version: I’m delighted to announce that, in partnership with chef Lawrence Butler, I’m opening a new restaurant in the spring of 2019 at 38-40 Mill Road, Cambridge.
It’s been 15 months (almost to the day) since the last service at The Hole in the Wall. I’ve had some time off. Spent time with my wife. Seen family. Caught up with friends. Attended weddings (and birthdays and christenings) and travelled to - and worked in - some truly wonderful places all over the world.
(Photo by Charlotte Griffiths - final weekend at The Hole in the Wall)
Throughout those fifteen months, I also spent a great deal of time with Lawrence Butler (my trusted sous chef from the Hole) - discussing, theorising and creating what was, in our minds, the restaurant that we wanted to run next.
It needed to be in central Cambridge.
It had to be small, relaxed and fun.
It would serve a menu that would bend and flex on a regular, possibly even daily basis.
It would serve food cooked from the best ingredients, locally sourced wherever possible, from the amazing network of growers, farmers, producers and suppliers that we’d built up relationships with over the last seven years.
It would have to have an open kitchen and a few seats at the pass to enable us to speak with the people we were cooking for (if they wanted to chat, of course).
And it would be open just four nights a week, chiefly to allow us to maintain a sustainable work-life balance and spend time with our respective other halves, but also to facilitate creativity and allow us to cook at our absolute best during every single service we were open.
I’m truly delighted to say that after extensive searching, planning and negotiation, that the dream restaurant which Lawrence and I have spent the past year imagining is going to become a reality. Our new home is 38-40 Mill Road, Cambridge and we couldn’t think of a better, more exciting or passionately independent community to be joining.
There is, of course, plenty to do. The distinctive scent of Subway’s Italian Herb & Cheese bread is one that lingers. We have a kitchen to build, walls to paint, ovens to install, furniture to choose and that’s before we’ve thought about finalising our menus or wine lists. Those of you who are interested will be able to follow our progress on social media, where we will be posting intermittently as the restaurant comes together (links below).
And the name. With the Hole in the Wall, I inherited a name and didn’t have to go through the agonising process of trying to come up with something that summed up the ethos of the restaurant in a few words. Being presented with a blank canvas presented something of a challenge. Our ‘concept’, for what it’s worth, is simply to cook really great food, without bluster or pretension, so the name had to be ambiguous enough not to have any connotations or create a sense of expectation.
Matt Berninger, lead singer and lyricist of The National - a band that I’m an enormous fan of - will occasionally make up a word when he can’t find one that fits the sentiment. “Every time you actually try to use real words to describe it, it doesn’t sound like the thing you’re talking about,” he said in an interview a few years ago, “...everything matters. It doesn’t matter that much, but a little bit, and a collection of a thousand little things really adds up.” Which is an eerily similar sentiment to Marco Pierre White’s thoughts on what makes great cooking.
So we wrote to The National to ask them if they would have any objections to us using one of Matt’s made-up words, and a title of one of their songs, as the name of the restaurant. And, amazingly, they wrote back:
‘Thanks for reaching out with the flattering request. We hope we have a chance to dine with you next time the band performs around Cambridge. :) Best of luck with the new restaurant!’
It is with the greatest pleasure that Lawrence and I look forward to welcoming you all, very soon, to our new restaurant: Vanderlyle.
Lawrence Butler: @ThatLankyChef
Alex Rushmer: @ChefAlex