10 minutes with: Adam Byatt, Trinity, Bistro Union and Upstairs

The Staff Canteen

Known for his serious commitment to contemporary British cuisine, Adam Byatt is one of London’s most exciting chef-restaurateurs. Adam Byatt was raised in a cooking home; his mother was a professionally trained chef and his grandfather was a cook in the army. Now, with three critically acclaimed restaurants under his belt, it’s clear that an early exposure to a passion for food has had its impact. 

Adam Byatt
Adam Byatt

First leaving home at the age of sixteen to embark on his culinary career, Adam completed a coveted apprenticeship at Claridge’s before moving on to work with Phil Howard at The Square, Mayfair’s iconic 2 Michelin-starred restaurant.

Adam first introduced his seasonal, sustainable philosophy with the opening of Thyme in 2004. Having achieved both local and critical success with his first owned restaurant, he returned to Clapham Old Town with Trinity in 2006. Following from the success of Trinity, Adam opened Bistro Union in 2011, and has recently overseen the hugely successful launch of his newest venture, Upstairs.

The aptly named Upstairs, nestled above Trinity, is a new first floor casual dining space, featuring wooden dining tables set along new picture windows with views onto the Old Town piazza. Upstairs offers a daily changing menu of fresh seasonal ingredients treated simply, all of which are cooked to order from an open island kitchen. Upstairs opened its doors in 2015, only a few months shy of Trinity’s 10 year anniversary.

Adam said:  “What we offered when we first opened Trinity, and have managed to sustain for 10 years, was incredible and really set us apart. But within that time, the environment inevitably changes, the restaurant devalues and it’s important to regenerate.”

The industry has undoubtedly undergone some incredible changes over the past few years, and restaurants across the UK have been in a constant battle to maintain relevance in an ever-evolving food culture.

Of this, Adam explained: “One of the key things that we wanted to do with the opening of Upstairs was to offer the option of a casual dining experience on the first floor of the restaurant. That was brought about by where I think ‘dining’ is at now, where I think the market is and trying to react to popular demand.”

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He added: “Upstairs is a reaction to where I think a lot of people want to dine on a more frequent basis, it’s definitely more casual than Trinity, but the standards regarding the food and the service have remained the same throughout all of the restaurants. ‘Casual’, for us, has never meant that guests should expect less.

The business upgrade has allowed Adam the opportunity to host more private events, for which Upstairs is beginning to build a reputation for. Monthly Wine Dinners, Guest Chef Nights, and Sunday Lunch Clubs have garnered quite the local following.


“One of the great things about the new Upstairs space is that it allows us to hold these special events," said Adam. "We wanted to expand our Wine Dinners, our Masterclasses and our Guest Chef Nights, and having the right space in which to do that was an integral part of the project.”

He added: “I think the restaurant has my DNA running through the whole thing.

“I’ve never gone away and done anything else and come back a year later or anything like that. It’s always been mine in terms of my food and my philosophy of what a restaurant should be.”

And he’s right about that. Adam is as hands-on as it gets when it comes to his business, often working upwards of six days a week; cooking, training, and overseeing both the food and service across his three venues.

However, he acknowledges that he was not alone in making Trinity the success that it is, as he describes how his team have helped him to build the restaurant as it stands today.

“There are a lot of great people that have been with me since the very beginning," he explained. "And together we form an opinion of what this restaurant should stand for, what its goals are, what its culture feels like, and what the restaurant feels like as a dining experience.”

Although Adam has been cooking under his own management for the better part of 20 years, he admits that the foundation of his cooking style has been greatly influenced by his time with Phil Howard at The Square.

“Our philosophy of cookery; the way that we bounce from season to season, our reverence for our ingredients, the way that we allow the main component to shine – all of that comes from the ethos at The Square. We try to make sure that all of the food is harmonious on the plate with interesting points of reference within every dish, while always maintaining a classical undertone," said Adam. 

Since its opening in 2006, Trinity has been the recipient of two AA Rosettes, as well as having won Time Out Best New Restaurant and AA London Restaurant of the Year awards. But Adam maintains that his proudest achievement is that Trinity is still a successful business after ten years.

“I think the accolades are lovely but the real accomplishment lies in the fact that we have actually built a really robust, really solid and consistent business over these past ten years that has fed 400,000 people.”

He added: “These three things are the biggest challenges in any restaurateur’s career: Can I sustain the restaurant? Can I keep staff? Can I stay relevant? Now, if you can successfully do all of those things then you are winning—if you get accolades on the back of that, then fantastic.”

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 17th May 2016

10 minutes with: Adam Byatt, Trinity, Bistro Union and Upstairs