Martin Wishart’s The Honours gets ‘great response’ at Glasgow opening

The Staff Canteen

The second of The Honours brasseries by Martin Wishart opened in Glasgow’s Malmaison hotel on Friday, November 14 2014 and for Martin, it was a great success.

“We had a great response, lots of good feedback,” he said. “There were a couple of issues, but nothing out of the ordinary.”

Honours Glasgow - martin wishart and head chef andrew greenan credit herald scotland

Honours Glasgow - martin wishart

and head chef andrew greenan

credit herald scotland

This is the fourth restaurant in the Michelin starred chef’s portfolio, which also includes a cook school, and he seems unfazed. He is similarly unfazed by social media, an important part of restaurant openings in an age where food journalists are being replaced by bloggers.

Martin doesn’t do social media himself; he feels it “takes up too much time”. But he understands the importance of it, as he explained: “I’m quite traditional in my approach to my work. I embrace all the new technology and I’m always looking, as a chef, for new techniques. It would be a bit of a contradiction if I said I wasn’t embracing social media.”

The restaurateur and his trusty head chef Paul Tamburrini always had ambitions beyond the Edinburgh venue they first opened four years ago.

“When Paul and I first came up with the concept, we knew we wanted to do other Honours,” he said.

Why did he decide to open a restaurant in Glasgow?

After considering Aberdeen, but deciding against it, Glasgow seemed the perfect fit for the next iteration of the brasserie, being Martin’s hometown and the biggest city in Scotland. But it’s also about logistics, as he explained: “I have a restaurant at Cameron House. So I thought it would be easier to open there first than say, Aberdeen or even somewhere like Newcastle.”

The mention of a city outside of Scotland reflects how Martin’s ambitions continue far beyond Glasgow. The new restaurant in Malmaison is just the first step in a partnership with the hotel group, and Martin and Malmaison CEO Gary Davis hope to take it beyond the one venue.

The Honours, credit malmaison
The Honours, credit malmaison

“It’s in our mind to do further Honours within the company,” he said. It wasn’t originally planned like this, however. Martin started to look for a location for the Glasgow Honours a few years ago, but he couldn’t find anything. The location Martin liked, needed “quite a lot of work”, but a chance offer from Malmaison’s Gary Davis lead to the current situation.

Continuing ambitions

“He asked if I would do something with him at One Devonshire Gardens,” he said. The Hotel du Vin location wasn’t right for Martin, so he suggested a collaboration with Malmaison, with a view to doing more than just one. By the summer they’d both agreed what they wanted. The partnership is a careful balancing of each party’s needs, as Martin explained: “We had to make sure that we were able to keep the identity of The Honours, while fitting with the Malmaison vision.”

But he always knew the two businesses could fit together. “Even before we started looking, they came to visit us in Edinburgh and I went to Aberdeen and a few of their other hotels. I could see that this would work,” he said. Little has changed for Martin’s original vision for The Honours in the wake of the partnership. The menu remains the same, but with six fewer dishes.

Why the change? “Because the operation’s seven days a week,” Martin explained. "And we can always add to our next menu rather than take away from our current one."

The honours
The Honours

Martin is bringing trusted associates to the business. The head chef and sous chef of The Honours Glasgow are a husband and wife team; 27-year-old Andrew Greenan and his wife Zoe. Paul and Martin write the menu but Martin is suitably impressed enough with Andrew for this to change in the future: “Moving forward, we’d like to involve Andrew in menu discussion,” he said.

Considering Martin is used to Edinburgh, having three restaurants there plus his school, moving to Glasgow seems to have been painless - one Scottish city to another seems to have been no challenge. But Martin acknowledges the market in Glasgow is slightly different.

He said: “There are no Michelin starred restaurants. It’s a little more casual, more laid back”. It’s early days for The Honours Glasgow, but Martin continues to be ambitious for the future. “My plans are to train good staff, encourage them and pick out potential for new positions in the business,” he said, adding, “whether existing or for new projects.”

Judging from the success of this opening, it seems further projects will be no problem for this Scottish restaurateur.

By Stuart Armstrong

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Editor 24th November 2014

Martin Wishart’s The Honours gets ‘great response’ at Glasgow opening