31 May 2001

A SHORTER menu offering lower-priced dishes has been introduced at Teatro since the appointment of new head chef John Newton (Caterer, 1 March, page 67).

Newton, who originally joined the 80-seat restaurant on Shaftesbury Avenue in the heart of London's theatreland in 1998 as chef de partie, took on his new position in December. He now works alongside former head chef Stuart Gillies, who has been promoted to executive chef, responsible for Teatro in London and Leeds, and also SO.UK in Clapham, south London. All menus are now jointly written by Newton and Gillies.

Two menus are available - the weekly-changing set menu, which is available at lunch and for pre-theatre dinners until 7.30pm, and the Á la carte menu, which is revised once a month to allow seasonal changes.

Newton, who has previously worked at Bank in London and the Walnut Tree in Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, has extended the pre-theatre menu to offer a choice of three dishes at each course. Two courses cost £11.50, with three courses at £14. A typical selection of dishes might include thinly sliced Parma ham with fresh asparagus and pecorino, roast fillet of cod with crushed new potatoes and sauce vierge, and Italian cheese with fig salami.

Newton, who heads a brigade of eight chefs, describes his food as modern European, although he does not like to be bound by one particular style. "We have such a broad range of customers here that I wouldn't want to be pigeonholed in any way," he says.

Among the new suppliers Newton has sourced since becoming head chef is Somerset Organics. "The flavour and quality of their meat is fantastic and I now use their pork and Black Angus beef," he says. Newton chargrills both meats, serving the pork with home-made black pudding and apple jus (£15.50), and a rib-eye of beef with fondant potato and café de Paris butter (£16.95).

Current best-selling dishes on the Á la carte menu include grilled Mediterranean vegetables, roasted pepper and feta cheese (£6.95), grilled scallops and new potatoes with globe artichokes and pancetta with basil oil and balsamic vinegar (£16.50), and warm chocolate fondant with chocolate sauce and crème fraÅ'che (£6.50).

Often up to 130 customers eat at Teatro on a busy evening, with around 50 of those covers eating from the pre-theatre menu. Average spend from the Á la carte menu is £50-£60. n

Teatro, 93-107 Shaftesbury Avenue, London W1D 5DY. Tel: 020 7494 3040

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