2012 Acorn award winner Shaun Dickens is set to open his first solo venture in Oxfordshire this week.
The former Fallowfields head chef has taken over the site of La Barca tapas restaurant in Henley-on-Thames and will officially open it as Shaun Dickens at the Boathouse on 11 April.
Dickens has acquired the lease of the 2,000sq ft site overlooking the river from former tenants Delicioso under his new company SGD Restaurants, which he runs together with business partner Paul Duckworth. Delicioso owners Jose Luis Alvarez Bernal and Kate Shirley-Quirk will continue to concentrate on their food business, importing Spanish food and supplying restaurants and delicatessens throughout the UK.
Shaun Dickens at the Boathouse will comprise a 48-seat dining room as well as a 25-cover bar and 28-seat deck overlooking the River Thames. The restaurant will be run by manager Rhys Griffiths, who has joined from the Olde Bell in Hurley and previously worked with Michael Caines both at Gidleigh Park and Abode.
Dickens runs a five-strong kitchen brigade and will offer an à la carte menu priced around £40 for three courses. "My food is modern British fine dining, reflecting my background of having worked at Michelin-starred restaurants," Dickens said. "We'll initially just have the à la carte but we'll introduce a seven-course tasting menu in due course."
Typical dishes will include peanut-crusted tuna loin with chilli jam, glazed radish and peanut brittle; saddle of lamb with broad bean and lemon, black olive purée, confit belly and lemon gel; and chocolate orange dessert with orange gel, chocolate rocks, white chocolate ice cream.
After training at Westminster Kingsway, Dickens joined Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons as a commis, working up to senior chef de partie. Three years later, he moved to New York, working for 18 months as a chef de partie at the three-Michelin-starred Per Se under Thomas Keller.
Returning to England in 2009, Dickens secured the sous chef position at L'Ortolan. In 2011, he joined Fallowfields hotel as head chef at and within six months had gained two AA rosettes and helped win the Tourism South East small hotel of the year award.
Dickens was replaced at Fallowfields by former Lords of the Manor head chef Matt Weedon.
Property agent Harper Dennis Hobbs advised Delicioso.