The newly launched English Grill at The Rubens at the Palace is fast becoming London’s foremost destination for classic British food served with modern finesse. The stylish restaurant, which uses many of the same suppliers as The Queen, such as Aubrey Allen, is headed up by Head Chef Ben Kelliher, who honed his skills at the nearby Chesterfield Mayfair. Here, Chef Kelliher talks us through the mouth-watering menu and shares his passion for seasonal British produce.
What does classic British food mean to you?
“What it really means to me is seasonal, sourced locally wherever possible, but definitely from around the UK. We have a lot of great dishes in this country. I think British food has really moved forward in the last 10 years – you just can’t beat great British food!”
What can guests expect from the new English Grill at The Rubens at the Palace?
“You can expect great service, lots of theatre, British classics, and a memorable dining experience.”
You’ve previously worked as Executive Chef at The Chesterfield’s Butlers Restaurant. What skills and experience are you bringing from there to the English Grill?
“Working at The Chesterfield Mayfair gave me the opportunity to improve my expertise and was a big part of my life – I learned so much in the 10 years I spent there. I think I will bring organisation, consistency, and fun to the kitchen. I hope to perpetuate the great British tradition, and would like to continue to work with my brilliant suppliers, such as Aubrey Allen, with a focus on sustainability and quality produce.”
What’s been your career highlight so far?
“My career highlight has been being part of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts. Their values and commitment to the industry is something I really believe in. I am a big believer in giving back to the industry, and their Apprenticeship Programme.”
How did you go about creating the menu for the relaunched English Grill?
“I have worked very closely with our owners Mr and Mrs Tollman on the English Grill Menu. For the last 10 years, I have concentrated solely on British food with a modern twist. It is all about the product, especially for our meat, where I use the Josper Grill to ‘sublime’ cuts like the Tomahawk.”
What are your favourite dishes and how have you updated traditional British recipes to entice modern palates?
“My two favourite dishes are the Lobster Omelette and Beef Wellington, carved at your table from our Silver trolleys. For me, they are just memorable dishes. I also love the Tomahawk Steak. It’s a menu staple and it’s incredibly tasty.”
The English Grill uses some of the same suppliers at The Queen’s Kitchen. Do you take a very hands-on approach when sourcing suppliers for the restaurant?
“I think you always need to shop around and work with suppliers. I have worked closely with many of the country’s finest and local suppliers to make sure we are sourcing the very best ingredients on the market for the English Grill. I have a close relationship with Aubrey Allen for example, butcher of The Queen.”
What ingredients are you currently enjoying cooking with?
“I really enjoy cooking foods that have just come into season; there is nothing like getting your first box of English asparagus or new seasonal morels. I always make sure I include gulls eggs on the menu when they’re in season too. Every season is special and once it has gone, it is like a waiting game for the ingredients to come back.”
What would your Desert Island meal be?
“Shepherd’s Pie! Just like my mother made, and her mother made for her. It is all about tradition for me; passing on culinary techniques and recipes through the generations. I would also have a smokey homemade ketchup alongside. It was one of the first dishes I put on the menu at The Chesterfield and I am so pleased to feature it on our English Grill menu.”
What classic British dish should visitors try when in London?
“The Tomahawk Steak is our signature dish – it is the ‘king of kings’ when it comes to steaks. We have made a secret English Grill spice mix that goes exceptionally well with all of our meats. If meat is not what you fancy, then our grilled Dover Sole or Market Fresh Fish of the Day is not to be missed.”
Image Credits: All images courtesy of Red Carnation Hotels.