Xavier Rousset and Mark Jarvis have opened the Gunmakers in Marylebone, London, with a very simple and modest aim: to make the best Sunday roast in London. Emma Lake pays the pair a visit
While the pedigree of the award-winning pairing of sommelier and restaurateur Xavier Rousset and chef Mark Jarvis includes a plethora of fine-dining stalwarts, they are insistent that the Gunmakers, their newly opened Marylebone watering hole, will remain a proper British pub. After all, it has stood on Aybrook Street since the 18th century and counts Winston Churchill among its former patrons.
That is not to say that the pair, who previously worked together at Marylebone’s Texture restaurant, won’t be putting their expertise to use to ensure that their menu of pub classics and accompanying wine list will set this pub apart.
The pub itself reopened at the beginning of October following a refurbishment, with a subterranean restaurant in the same relaxed style planned to open later this month alongside six bedrooms developed by the pair’s business partner.
Rousset says: “It’s a pub and it works as a pub. The people who knew it before are happy to see it reopen after it has been closed for two years.”
Jarvis continues: “For me, as an Englishman, I always wanted to do a pub. We’re going to keep it simple, with traditional pub classics, nice portions and good-quality ingredients.
“It’s simple – we’re not trying to do fusion food or molecular gastronomy, we want to do the best roast dinner ever. Everybody loves to go to the pub on a Sunday – it’s something I love as well – so we’re going to focus on that.”
On the ground floor the pub is as traditional as they come, with a wooden bar, red banquette seating, panelled walls and, of course, pictures of Churchill. The 40-cover restaurant downstairs will be a continuation of the same theme, but with the kitchen providing the entertainment.
Jarvis, who won the Newcomer Award at the 2017 Cateys for Anglo, began his career at 16 and worked at the Lords of the Manor in the Cotswolds, Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire as well as Texture and the Blueprint Café, both in London.
He went to open his flagship restaurant Anglo in Farringdon, as well as Neo Bistro and Stem, which he has since closed. His menu at the Gunmakers is one of traditional fayre but elevated as would be expected from a chef of his calibre, with the bread baked and the meats cured on-site. Dishes will include beer-battered haddock with crushed peas and tartar sauce (£16.50) and dry-aged lamb with aubergine, mint and miso (£20).
Sundays are a particular focus with Jarvis, who is working with suppliers with the ambition of creating what will be known as one of the capital’s great roast dinners. He adds: “Sunday is going to be a really long service, open midday until late. We don’t like to be predictable – that’s no fun, we are going to break with convention.”
Accompanying this convention-breaking menu will be a wine list developed by Rousset, whose other projects include Cabotte restaurant and wine bar in the City, and Trade private members’ club in Soho. He explains: “We will have 25-30 white and 25-30 red, so it’s not going to be a big in terms of a wine list. We want people to be able to relax and have a good time, but if you want something a little bit more, it will be there. There’s something that will suit every palate, every taste and every budget.”
Upstairs are the six bedrooms that make the Gunmakers an unusual proposition for Marylebone. Rousset explains: “We don’t think there are any other pubs with bedrooms in Marylebone and, as a tourist, if you want the full English experience, you stay at a pub.”
The six spacious rooms have been created on the floors above the pub, using the high ceilings and large windows of the historic buildings. All have en suite facilities and are designed to meet the needs of businesses as well as leisure travellers.
For the most part what all three partners are concerned with is celebrating the institution of the British pub. Rousset says: “For me, the vibe of the pub is not necessarily the food or drink offering, it’s about not trying too hard.
“I like the cross-section you see in a British pub: you get 60- and 70-year-olds mixing with 20-, 30- and 40-year-olds; it’s a mix of male and female, it’s a total cross-section and a good reflection of society.”
Jarvis adds: “We want you to bring your dogs in, sit here and have a great time. It’s simple.”
From the menu
- Fried whitebait £3.50
- Fried Maldon rock oyster £3 per piece
- Game terrine with cranberry compote and pickled onion £9
- Mussels cooked in beer, garlic, mustard and tarragon £9.50
- 120g English wagyu bavette, potato rosti and watercress £19.50
- Chicken breast and mushroom risotto £17.50
- Gunmakers burger, grilled bacon, cheese, spiced chilli mayo and skin-on fries £14
About the Gunmakers
- The Gunmakers, 33 Aybrook Street, Marylebone, London W1U 4AP
- Rooms Six
- General manager Mike Saxon
- Restaurant covers 40
- Head chef Mark Jarvis
- Room rate £180-£250 including breakfast
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