Former head chef at Hampton Manor details plans for upcoming Solihull restaurant, Toffs by Rob Palmer

The  Staff Canteen

Former Hampton Manor head chef Rob Palmer is set to open his own restaurant in Solihull, Birmingham: Toffs by Rob Palmer

The restaurant, located on Drury Lane, will be decorated in the post-industrial style Birmingham has become known for, with an open plan kitchen and the capacity for 26 diners.

In an interview with The Staff Canteen, Rob, who spent five years at the helm of Henley-in-Arden's Hampton Manor as head chef, where he helped earn a Michelin star for Peel's in 2016, said the restaurant will offer tasting menus focusing on sustainable British produce.

But for now, at least, he said: "The menu's the least of my worries at the minute - that's the easy bit for a chef. Starting a business is a bit different."

'I'm not going to preach sustainability to people'

The restaurant, which will only be small with Rob and three other chefs working in the kitchen, is currently planned to open in mid-March, assuming he can find enough staff, front and back of house. 

Whenever it does open, the food will be similar to what he was celebrated for at Hampton Manor, "using the best British suppliers we can afford. The core products will all be sourced from Britain - all of our meat, fish and veg will always be British.

When asked whether sustainability would be a focus, Rob said, "It's important to me but I'm not the sort of person who's going to preach it to people."

"When it gets preached to you is when you lose people's interest."

For him, the priority will always be to make good food, but to do so in the most responsible way possible.

Toff..ees

The restaurant's name was inspired by his father's nickname which came from the Palmers sweets - Toffee - shortened to Toffs. The name was chosen at a time last year when Rob's father had a major health scare. 

The name is in no means a reference to the wealthy locals of Solihull, though the chef said that the area was indeed "desperate" for a high-end restaurant.

Rob hopes that his restaurant will bring more independent restaurants into Solihull, especially in the fine dining or higher-end market, as there's not been anything like Toffs since The Fat Cat, which closed around about 15 years ago. As it stands, most of the independent eateries in the area are street-food vendors.

While the chef is putting all of his energy into getting the restaurant up and running, he said: "there's no point saying [that getting a Michelin star] is not what I want to do with the restaurant, of course it is.

"But, to start with, no. It's a long process to get off the ground. I just want to get open and get cooking."

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 21st January 2022

Former head chef at Hampton Manor details plans for upcoming Solihull restaurant, Toffs by Rob Palmer