Yuma Hashemi offers no fixed dishes, adjusting his menu each day dependent on his suppliers. James Stagg checks out his unique brand of Persian hospitality
Most operators aim to welcome guests as they would if they were entering their home. Yuma Hashemi at the Drunken Butler in London has taken this a step further by using furniture from his parent's home in Iran and channelling Persian hospitality to create a genuinely homely feel to his restaurant.
It feels very much like sitting in someone's front room, with Ercol tables and chairs arranged around a Persian rug and bureaus containing family photos, wine and books against the walls. "There are photos of my mum, grandmother and sister," says Hashemi. "These three women are my influences in cooking."
Like visiting someone's home, there is no menu as such to choose from at dinner, though there are some Á la carte options at lunch, along with a short tasting menu (£49). Hashemi operates only the short tasting menu or the set seven-course menu (£69) in the evening - having flirted with Á la carte but finding it too tricky to deliver - for which only basic descriptions exist on the menu (shore, sea farm, forest), providing the flexibility to be creative.
"I live near Broadway Market in Hackney and the first thing I have in the morning is oysters, so that I can choose the ones I like for the restaurant," explains Hashemi. "It's the same with the fishmonger: they'll suggest a certain fish each day. Our meat supplier Turner & George know our style, what we like and what the menu looks like. So if it says beef on the menu, they might give us any cut or breed." It means Hashemi and sous chef Mattia Gerundio, who work in an open kitchen and personally deliver the dishes to diners, don't create disappointment when, for instance, they can't source a particular ingredient. "We have no fixed dishes. We speak in the morning, we prep and we cook," Hashemi says.
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