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Phil Carmichael, head chef of new Jason Atherton restaurant Berners Tavern reveals new "social hub" plans

19 August 2013 by
Phil Carmichael, head chef of new Jason Atherton restaurant Berners Tavern reveals new "social hub" plans

Chef Phil Carmichael, who will be heading up Jason Atherton's new venture at the London Edition, has revealed that the pair plans to provide a social hub for the local area with the opening of Berners Tavern next month.

As the head chef of the 140-seat restaurant, which will open on 12 September, Carmichael explained that the space will provide a casual, all-day offer to actively contrast with the hotel's grand, imposing surroundings.

"It's such a grand space, we didn't want to call it something that would exaggerate the grandness, as we didn't want people to be put off," Carmichael told Caterer and Hotelkeeper. "Tavern sounds accessible. We just want people to interact with their food. We want the theatre."

He explained that the over-arching aim was to offer "something special", with a reasonable price point - around £25 for lunch and £50 for dinner â€' allowing the space to become a community social room from breakfast to dinner. With a separate entrance and toilets, the space will cultivate a real "restaurant" feel, helped by the "super modern" open kitchen and high-quality food.

Carmichael admitted that the seven-day operation would be his biggest challenge yet, but praised London Edition for giving him and Atherton a "free rein to do what we do".

"We've never done something on this scale before, but the hotel has given us no restrictions; to all intents and purposes we've got a standalone restaurant. A hotel should be more than just a place to sleep; that's how the flow of the building works. We want it to be a social meeting place for Londoners, like hotels used to be."

Acquired by Marriott International in November 2010, the 173-bedroom hotel has since undergone redevelopment as part of the Edition brand, in partnership with iconic hotel designer Ian Schrager and under the general management of David Taylor, who previously headed up the Hoxton hotel, Shoreditch.

Completely renovating the restaurant space, the team has installed an all-black, modern kitchen in contrast to the softer, rose and taupe-coloured palette inspired by Johannes Vermeer paintings and American artist Donald Judd.

Playing with textures, including leather, mohair and amber, the décor will also feature two huge chandeliers - reminiscent of New York's Grand Central Station â€' designed to make the original 5.5 metre-high ceiling feel more intimate.

Alongside Carmichael, Atherton's executive team - Michael West, sommelier Laure Patry, and recently crowned World Class UK Bartender of the Year 2013, Gareth Evans - will oversee the opening.

Speaking to Caterer and Hotelkeeper in June, Atherton said: "I'm really excited to be working with Ian Schrager and to have renewed my connection with Marriott. It was great working with Marriott [at Grosvenor Square] when I created Maze for Gordon Ramsay Holdings, and I am extremely proud of my time there, having taken over a loss-making restaurant and turned it into a £12m turnover restaurant. It was a pretty sensational set-up with GRH and hopefully we will do the same again here."

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