London Lantern

Putting the Spotlight on London

Top London Chefs and Restaurateurs - Nick Lambert (cont)

08/04/2005, By

Reader Rating: 2.9 from 21765 votes

Nick then worked at Michelin-starred L'Oranger under Kemal Benemar for three months which was an eye-opener in so many ways. He felt that was one of the most pathetic and odious human beings he had ever come across in a position of authority - whilst his food was very good, his man management skills and health and hygiene practices were appalling.

The staff were so scared of this chef that once after service when Nick inadvertently ate some the petit fours that had been reserved for M. Benemar, the entire staff went silent, blanched and got very frightened. Now he finds himself actually doing the opposite of what he saw at L'Oranger and discovers that he gets the best results from his staff so it was not a wasted experience.

At the same time as training and working Nick was searching for a suitable premises for his first restaurant. Stephen Bullís London restaurants were struggling by this time and his popular Marylebone restaurant was now a shadow of what it once was due to its shabby appearance and menus that were firmly stuck in the 90s. Blandford Street was established in the summer of 2001 on the site of what used to be the Stephen Bull Restaurant. Bull was a former Michelin-starred chef who pioneered Modern British food in the 1980s. In his day he was regarded as one of the most innovative chefs of his generation.

The time was right for a change of management and the deal which ended Stephen Bullís 12 year tenure in the West End was done early in 2001 - Blandford Street opened on 16th July later that year with Nick dividing his time between the front of house and the kitchen. At Butlerís Wharf Chef School Nick was taught by lecturer Daniel Ward who he later installed in the kitchen at Blandford Street as Head Chef. Daniel was an extremely gifted chef who not only created sublime dishes, but also instilled in everyone around him the importance of discipline and hard work. It was extremely refreshing to see the commis chefs in the kitchen being taught many of the old skills that have now been sadly lost or dumbed down.

Because of the outstanding cooking, professional service and great ambience Blandford Street received immediate critical acclaim. The restaurant was reviewed by many of the leading critics who all agreed that this was a quality establishment with very high standards. What made Blandford Street's reputation was that both Nick and Daniel were present for every lunch and dinner. This ensured that the food and service were of the highest quality and a level of consistency was achieved which saw customers returning regularly.

Daniel departed in April 2003 to be closer to his family in Essex and was replaced by Martin Moore who had been Head Chef at The Terrace in Kensington. Before moving to The Terrace, Martin worked under Bruce Poole at Chez Bruce. Martinís obsession with great ingredients and his French culinary background are evident in the food that now comes out of Blandford Streetís kitchen. Only the finest products from the British Isles and beyond are used to create dishes where the true flavours of the ingredients can be tasted.

The restaurant recently underwent a complete refurbishment which created a beautiful interior, and it re-opened on April 18th. The main interior decoration has been undertaken by Tim Butcher formerly of De Gournay - Tim specialises in hand painted silks and wallpapers and his work can be seen in Marco Pierre Whiteís Mirabelle and Belvedere as well as a host of other public and private properties which Tim worked on with David Collins. Simon Pole the architect from Tilt Design has integrated the silks and paintings into an interior that is stunning without being too opulent.

Blandford Street Restaurant re-opened on April 18th; we all look forward to seeing the results, and tasting his wonderful food again.

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