This addition to London's Theatreland is making a star of chef Andrew Ward and his comfort food
Indeed, the glamorous, 156-cover brasserie-style site opened in October 2014 and was praised by London Evening Standard food critic Grace Dent as "a Marcus Wareing experience, but genuinely relaxed".
But while Wareing oversees the business, he isn't the one in control here. Instead, it's Andrew Ward, former senior sous chef at Chez Bruce and La Trompette, and the creative force behind the menu. He has departed from his fine-dining background and created playful dishes that are united enough to
present a clear style, but varied enough to give everyone what they want.
"I'm trying to bring different but tasty food, and nothing too complicated," Ward explains. "People might expect it to be fussy, but it's not. It's about being tasty, and not intimidating.
I don't want people to read the menu and have to ask lots of questions. They shouldn't have to."
For example, there's the smoked haddock and courgette gratin (£14), which is effectively a traditional fish pie, but presented in an original way. The smoked fish is mixed with white crab and cooked at 68 degrees in a waterbath, and then rested on a bed of leeks and courgettes before being topped with Gruyère cheese and sprinkled with breadcrumbs for texture. It's comforting, but delicate.
Similarly, the gnocchi with cauliflower (£10) is a nod to the colder winter months, with the cauliflower roasted slowly from raw in brown butter to create a nutty, caramel flavour.
Most striking about Tredwell's offer is its variety. International influences jostle against vegetarian and vegan options, such as the chargrilled chicken with peanut sauce starter (£6) - a take on Malaysian chicken satay - mushroom ragout (£9), lamb chops (£12) and harissa-glazed aubergine (£5/£8); the
latter two are among the site's bestsellers.
This unusual selection is in part thanks to the restaurant's location, which ensures a diverse clientele, from locals and businesspeople looking for a quick supper to visitors en route to the theatre. This means the menu has been designed with everyone in mind, says Ward, and it's fitting that the menu listed the allergen information required by the EU regulations long before they came into force.
"It's about giving people options; we wanted to be more transparent about the vegetarian and vegan dishes," he explains. "It makes it more interesting in the kitchen too. Like most chefs, I find it difficult to make vegetarian dishes more exciting, but I really wanted to work on that. I didn't want people coming in thinking they didn't like any of the menu."
To this end, the familiar starter-main-pudding format sits alongside snacks and a host of unusual sides designed for sharing, including chorizo jam with chargrilled bread (£4) and polenta fries with smoked tomato dip (£4).
Yet despite the simplicity of the dishes, Ward says they are still long on process. "Working at Chez Bruce gave me a level of expectation towards the ingredients and method," he says. "All the components need to be super-special, super-tasty, and executed well."
The hanger steak with mushroom ketchup (£15), for example, is marinated for 24 hours before being put on the Robata grill. The popular lamb chops (£12) are cooked in a waterbath; the sticky chilli chicken wings (£5) are smoked.
Unsurprisingly, Ward is passionate about sourcing and seasonality. "I could buy in poor-quality meat," he explains, "but I don't want to. The dishes are simple, so the ingredients have to be excellent."
This is a chef who knows what sells, is open to new ideas, with a quiet but driven skill and a keen eye for technique. These are bold, bright plates that play with texture and style, with a whirl of eclectic flavours and a definite emphasis on quality. It might be Wareing's name that everyone reads about, but it's Ward's food - served cheek by jowl with Theatreland - that really plays to the crowd.
From the menu
Starters and snacks
- Courgette fritters with pine nut butter £3
- Braised lamb belly with aubergine and tomato curry £4
- Slow-cooked salmon, spirulina, cauliflower £7
- Chicken liver mousse with bacon jam and chargrilled toast £7
- Duck confit with buttered cabbage £12
- Sea bass with carrots, lentils and crispy shallots £14
- Mushroom and pearl barley ragout £9
- House-made salted caramel soft-serve ice-cream £5
- Warm ginger cake with caramel £5
- Vegan-friendly, gluten-free chocolate brownie with coconut yogurt £5
4a Upper St Martin's Lane, London WC2H 9NYwww.tredwells.com