Sienna restaurant in Dorset, previously owned by Russell and Eléna Brown, is set to reopen this week on 1 July after refurbishment from new owner, chef Marcus Wilcox.
The 14-cover Dorchester site was Michelin-starred before closing in April this year, 12 years to the day after it first opened in 2003. It won a star in 2010 and retained it ever since.
Wilcox, former head chef at the Rose & Crown in Trent near Sherborne, acquired the lease with a view to keeping the site's star, and its three AA rosettes. He expects to open on 1 July, and it will be the first establishment he has set up on his own. The interior of the site has been lightly refurbished since the acquisition, with new paintwork, chairs, tables, and upholstery.
Aged just 27, Wilcox competed in the 2013 BBC series of MasterChef: The Professionals, and has also worked in London at the Ledbury in West London, as well as Gravetye Manor, and Ashdown Park in Sussex, and studied at Bournemouth and Poole College.
Speaking to The Caterer, Wilcox described his cooking as "modern British with a twist".
Examples of dishes on the new menu include pigeon, beetroot and pear; mackerel, cucumber and curd; hake, sweetcorn and chicken skin; or pork belly with heritage carrot and broccoli stems. There will be three people in the kitchen, including Wilcox and a part-time kitchen porter, with one extra person front-of-house, plus Wilcox's girlfriend who will help out in the evenings and at weekends.
Wilcox added: "It's very small, very fine-dining. The menu descriptions are very short but obviously you get a lot more on the plate, a bit of a surprise. Whatever goes on the menu is tried and tested, but with it being a smaller site you can play about a bit, and be a bit more creative."
On the subject of keeping the Michelin star, he said he would try to maintain it, but if it wasn't to be, he would simply try again the year after. "If I hold the star, then brilliant," he said. He added that the previous owners had been extremely helpful with any questions, and that the handover had been simple.
Wilcox admitted that he was young to be opening his own site, but told The Caterer: "It feels good to be doing it now. I want to bring a star back to Dorset, and now is the time that I've got the energy to fulfil the dream."