Brown’s opened its doors in 1837 – the birth of the Victorian era. Now the hotel offers food and drink that exemplifies the best of British tradition through its new chef director.
Words by Reyhaan Day.
With the recent appointment of Adam Byatt as chef director, it is clear that Brown’s hotel has longevity in mind.
Byatt is one of the industry’s most revered chef restaurateurs, operating quietly in the kitchen for three decades.
Largely shunning the spotlight, he has built his reputation through his approach to seasonality, simple yet expertly executed dishes and hard work.
Now the chef has breakfast, lunch and dinner in the restaurant, afternoon tea, in-room dining, private dining and banqueting all under his remit.
And he is aware of how much work there is to do.
“There’s a magic and mystique to a five-star hotel. It puts hairs on the back of your neck walking into a hotel like this,” he says.
“It’s a special thing, and it needs to have a food and beverage offering to match,” he adds.
“The first major change is the restaurant,” which has been named Charlie’s.
“We’re trying to make this a really buzzy, fantastic neighbourhood restaurant that is the place to go in Mayfair.
“It’s got that real destination, Mayfair feel,” he says.
“I think we’ve come up with a menu that fits the Britishness of the hotel and its slight quirkiness.
“But it’s a cut above what is normally available in Mayfair. It’s more interesting,” he says.
Byatt isn’t a newbie to Mayfair.
Early in his career, he spent five years at Claridge’s, followed by a significant period at The Square, with Phil Howard.
“Phil was able to take an ingredient and let it shine naturally on a plate. He cooks for the purpose of pleasure and deliciousness.
“Once that’s ingrained in you, you’re a better cook for it, and it never leaves you,” he says.
Restaurants in Clapham
Byatt launched Trinity in Clapham in 2005, which was followed by Bistro Union in 2012 and Upstairs at Trinity in 2015. Trinity was awarded a Michelin star a year later.
“Achieving the Michelin star for Trinity was a pinnacle moment,” says the chef.
“It was something that my team and I strived for and we achieved it. It’s given us the tools and the confidence and momentum in the business to go on and achieve all the things we wanted to do.”
So why is now the right time to come back to the West End?
He says he was happy with his restaurants in Clapham.
“But I worked with the Forte family previously, and I love the way they celebrate hospitality.”
Having a team he trusts implicitly is paramount to Byatt.
“It’s not just important, it’s the only thing. It’s the be-all and end-all. I brought 14 people with me who worked with me
at Trinity, he said.
He is also bringing his supplier contacts, which he believes to be the best in town. And he is sourcing the very best ingredients.
“Now we’re utilising the quality of the produce and the skill of our team to create delicious British classics,” he says.
It’s still early days at Charlie’s, but Byatt is settling into his new role at Brown’s nicely.
Not bad for a window cleaner’s son.
“I came from nothing, no qualifications, no nothing. I now have four restaurants, one in a five-star hotel and one has a Michelin star. You can’t make it up, you know?” he says.
Does he find it hard to believe he’s had such success?
“No, because the pain is scarred across my heart and all my hair’s grey. I know why I’m here, don’t worry!”