Member Feature :: Mark Greenaway, Restaurant Mark Greenaway

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 20th July 2011
Mark, it's great to finally put a face to a name. Let's start with 12 Picardy Place then. Give us an outline of 12 Picardy Place (it was formally called Hawke and Hunter) , what's it about? What's behind it? Where's it going to go? What's your role Hawke and Hunter, it sounds like something that should sell Barber jackets, ((laughs)) No, not at all. We don't sell Barber jackets... Yes, Hawke and Hunter sounded like a shooting shop or something like that... Yeah like an old gentleman's shooting lodge thing... ...of St. James', yes ... Anyway, it's now 12 Picardy Place. Yes, it's a multi-operational outlet; we've got three bedrooms, a whiskey bar, a cocktail bar, Restaurant Mark Greenaway and that's 12 Picardy Place. Next door to 12 Picardy Place, we've got a live music venue called The Green Room and below that there's a nightclub called Below Stairs; I've got nothing to do with them at all unless it's a function I'm overseeing but that's not really where my focus is. My main focus is in the restaurant. So any food throughout the building is mine but it's the restaurant which is my main focus at the moment. Only three/four bedrooms and the vast amount of space you've got here, it's obviously a predominantly very food driven operation? Oh definitely, yes. So in terms of the food offered then, what can people expect from dining with you? It's progressive British, which is a term that's getting sort of bounced about more and more these days, purely because the whole ethos of the cooking that we do is... So it's not progressive Scottish? No, no, it's progressive British. I mean if the asparagus comes up from Surrey and it's better than the asparagus from Fife for example I'm not going to buy the stuff from Fife just because uts from Scotland, im going to buy the best i can get my hands on. So progressive British; so local to me is anywhere in Britain. So it's seasonal produce, as local as we can make it Sure. And do you use foie gras and things like that? Not at the moment. That's not to say we won't use it; I don't have any, I don't try and deliberately steer away from it but I don't deliberately put it on the menu either. Food wise then, what are the aspirations for you here? Aspirations, to be busy. We're ahead of the game plan that we set out to be in the way of financial targets. We could always be busier , like anybody; we need to concentrate on lunch. Lunch is really at the moment our weakness, our downfall; we're not busy enough for lunch. It's free money, foods in the fridge, chef's in the kitchen, that's where we need to concentrate. What are you competing against in the lunch market? Against grab and go sandwiches, that type of thing? It's in a strange location, we've got a Tesco's, three doors down, that do a grab and go sandwich for a fiver and we've got Martin Wishart, which is probably the most expensive, five minutes drive away. So we do a three course lunch £20, two courses £16.50 and most of the dishes, two out of the three dishes, are off the á la carte menu and one dish isn't and that is just to give people a taste of the á la carte menu. We don't put cheaper dishes on and charge cheaper prices, we just take them straight off the á la carte in the hope that they will then come back for dinner. So that's my aspirations, to be busy. How many boys have you got in the team at the moment? There's five of us. In terms of some of your dishes on your menu, give us an example of a dish that best says what your food is about right at this moment in time? There's probably two of the starters that I would say what we're about... We've got a confit duck leg, wrapped in a beetroot Carpaccio, served with an orange fluid gel and wild Scotch flowers. There's French techniques, Scottish produce, the duck legs are goosnarg from England; it's work, it's about trying to get the best out of the produce that we can buy and get it to the customer as simple as we can. The other one's a crab cannelloni, which is crab meat wrapped in a garlic and herb butter so that the cannelloni parcel has got inverted commas and that's above smoked cauliflower custard and served in a double glass. So when you take the top glass off, the smoke comes out of it, it's a little bit of theatre. And talk us through menus then, what menus do you run? A tasting menu, a carte menu... Yeah, we've got the lunch menu, which is the market menu; three courses £20, £16.50 for two courses. We've got an á la carte menu which is six, six and six; so that changes, as soon as asparagus comes into season it goes on, as soon as it goes out of seasons it comes off. It will never be a full menu change four times a year, I don't believe in that. It should be an evolution of changes and then we've got the tour menu which we do 8 courses, £65 and we won't tell people what's on it and if it puts you off having it then don't have it, we still don't tell you what's on it. Right, okay. Do you do wine flight with that? Yeah, so with the wine it's £90, without wine its £65. What are you selling most of menu-wise? A la carte at the moment. Does the whole table have to have the tasting menu? Yes and we want more people to take it, but right from the off when we first opened, we had people on the tasting menu, which I think is just a massive compliment to the restaurant and to the kitchen because to not know what you are going to be eating and just to turn round and say feed me; you've got to have trust in what the chef's in the restaurant are doing. So, it's good that we do that. So a new business then a new chef; how are you telling people that you are there? What are you doing to market yourself? The reviewers have came in, because Edinburgh is so small and so food-orientated, as soon as somebody opens anywhere the reviewers just flock, the bloggers flock, Twitter gets a hold of it. So we've just been really active on Twitter, more than"¦ Facebook doesn't really work for  a restaurant we find, Twitter does. So we've been active on that; I've been making time for the bloggers and that means if they do come in for lunch I will pop up and say hello. Or if they blog that it was good, or they tweet that it was good, I'll answer it and say, thanks very much. Who are the big bloggers in Scotland then? The biggest bloggers, there's Urban Spoon that lists them all and to be honest i don't really know who the "biggest" is. I think some of them make money out of it. I think some of them can, I don't know how they do it, but I think some do. Twitter has been massive for us and a huge help in trying to get the message out there. We're also doing Taste this year, in the middle of Edinburgh, but this year it's by invitation only in Edinburgh. So there's fifteen restaurants... This is the one that's sponsored by Channel 4 isn't it? Yea i think it is. So we're doing that in July; then August we've the Edinburgh Festival and next door is a live venue with some pretty big names performing there will be ten acts a day but it's part of the Playhouse, which is part of the Fringe Festival.. So to promote that we'll obviously feed off Twitter, bloggers, reviewers, Taste and then come August the Festival; so we don't have a PR company at the moment because we don't feel we need it. The reason I ask the question is, you know, I don't think you've changed but suddenly your profile has become so much bigger... Yes. ...so what, why do you think that it? Location, because you are now in Edinburgh? I think it is because we're in Edinburgh and thanks to things like Twitter and bloggers because we're accessible for them. But you were doing Twitter before? I was doing it before but no-one really spoke to me before. Whereas, and I don't know if it's because I wasn't saying the right things or attracting the right followers, I honestly don't know. But all of a sudden people are talking to me and people want to talk to me. Sure Which is great because we're building a business here, we need people talking about us. I don't know; nothing's changed with me or my food but all of a sudden, you know, we're getting the attention that we've been wanting for the last... Yes, I just wondered what was different and I wondered if it was location? Which is a shame isn't it? It's wrong that surely? I think it's the way of the world though isn't it? It is, because people will travel for great food, great service; so you don't necessarily need to be in the City centre. You know there's a lot of advantages but there's a lot of disadvantage...I mean the gardens we had at the Dryburgh with the pigs, the chickens, the ducks, the geese, the orchard, the four herb boxes, the veg..., it was an acre and a half of gardens, nearly two acres of gardens. We don't have that here we're City centre. Last but by no means least then where do you want you and the 12 Picardy Place  to be in five years' time? I want us to be busy. I want us to be successful. We will mark"¦ What will you measure success by? The bank balance, which is what anybody would say. So if you've loads of money in the bank and no accolades you'll be a happy bunny? I think in essence they almost work hand in hand... But the money makes you happy... ...although there is, I don't know, um, I want both. But I will measure success if in five years the restaurant is still open, which it will be, all going well. And we're three months in we're already ahead of what we projected, so it's going well. But no, we want the accolades, of course we want the accolades because we want what's fair. We don't want to be undercut or undersold by an organisation that doesn't feel that we're worthy of them, so yeah, we need a busy restaurant to survive so that's what we want. if the awards come they come if not, as long as the customers are happy and coming back. Well I wish you the very best of luck. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Find out more about becoming a Head Chef and access the latest Head Chef Jobs by going to our Chef Jobs page. When you join Thestaffcanteen.com, you can access recipes and vital industry info from the UK's most renowned chefs.
The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 20th July 2011

Member Feature :: Mark Greenaway, Restaurant Mark Greenaway