Restaurateur Kurt Zdesar is to open Bouillabaisse, a restaurant focusing on fresh, sustainably sourced fish, on the site of what used to be Bo London, later this year.
Zdesar, who runs Chotto Matte in London's Soho and is the former director of operations of Nobu Europe, emerged as the frontrunner for 4 Mill Street late last year, after ‘demon chef' Alvin Leung's Michelin-starred Bo London went into administration.
Bouillabaisse will have capacity for around 60 covers upstairs and a further 20 downstairs and will be a ‘chic' version of the type of shack-style fish restaurant found on the beaches of Florida. It is provisionally set to open in mid-May, although a precise schedule for the restaurant's fit-out has not yet been established.
The downstairs area will have a communal table and diners will be able to watch the chefs cook in an open kitchen.
Zdesar said he wanted the restaurant to offer a very high standard of sustainability and freshness for the fish that it serves, with the aim for the fish to be line-caught from day boats and stored live in tanks at the restaurant wherever possible.
His plans come after he was inspired by watching US chef Dan Barber's TED talk ‘How I fell in love with a fish', which tackles the thorny issue of how to produce seafood sustainably, and advocates a move away from the traditional agribusiness model of food production to a system that allows every community to feed itself sustainably.
Zdesar travelled to locations like Milan, Athens and Venice to research the project alongside his executive chef Jordan Sclare, trying to find as many of the best seafood experiences they could. They also visited Veta La Palma, the aquaculture farm in Spain on the Guadalquivir river, mentioned by Barber in his talk.
"I want to see every single product and know who is catching it, where it has come from and how it is caught before it makes it onto the menu," Zdesar said. "We are at the early stages of that process but the key is that everything on our menu will be a product that is not over-fished, not at any sort of risk and that it has plentiful stocks and they are continuing to replenish naturally.
The more you learn about it, the more difficult it becomes. It would have been easier just to say that everything is MSC-approved and everyone would feel good but I have really investigated it deeply and this is what I have come to learn."
Bouillabaisse will serve seafood simply, keeping the fish itself as the star of the dish. Although not French in style, the restaurant will make bouillabaisse one of the feature elements of the menu.
Aside from seafood, it will serve a limited selection of other dishes including T-bone steak and chicken schnitzel.
Zdesar is aiming for spend to be at around £40-50 a head.
"Until they are signed I don't like to talk about them and jinx them. But they will be three different concepts and each one is vastly different from the other. I like to create new things - that is the most exciting thing. I don't mind repeating concepts but not in the same city - I think it cannibalises the business," said Zdesar.