Around the same time, the pub business was opening up. Legislation was slackening the grip that the big brewers had on the trade, and new style leases were becoming available.
The timing couldn’t have been better. We grabbed a cheap tail end lease on a pub, gave it a lick of paint and added a decent selection of wine and a few rums to the draught beer and lager that was already on offer. From an eight foot by five foot kitchen we served a soup, sausages from Gazzano’s next door, crostini, a steak sandwich, a salad of some kind, and from the cooker in the flat, a casserole and an oven dish.
In three months from the depth of a recession, we made enough money to extend the kitchen into the bar and install a chargrill, a cooker, some proper fridges and ventilation. By now, Rose had introduced us to Pedro Chaves, our first chef who taught us some tricks from the River Café. With our car boot crockery and cutlery, no frills service, and “big flavours and rough edges”, we were off…!