On The Menu at The Capital with Adam Simmonds

The  Staff Canteen

Adam Simmonds is the executive chef at The Capital Hotel in Knightsbridge, London. He took over in May after Nathan Outlaw let go of his eponymous restaurant at the historic hotel earlier this year. 

The chef's career so far has been an illustrious one: he went straight from college in Leighton Buzzard to an apprenticeship at Le Gavroche, followed by roles at The Ritz, Les Saveurs, l'Escargot and Le Manoir. 

His first head chef position at The Greenway saw him earn 3 AA Rosettes; he won a Michelin star and 4AA Rosettes at Ynyshir in Wales; another star for Danesfield House, as well as 4 AA Rosettes and a 13th position in the Good Food Guide's top 100 restaurant ranking. 

The chef then sought to open a restaurant in London, following a successful pop-up in Soho, The Test Kitchen, but struggled to find investors, as, he said, "it didn't stack up for them as a viable business." 

Nonetheless, his position at The Capital is one he feels "very honoured and grateful" for. We spoke to him about his interest in seasonality, his approach to menu design and how he's trying to get more young people working in kitchens. 

You've been here for a few months now - how have you appropriated the food offering here? 

Obviously following in the footsteps of Nathan - was primarily fish - [...]  so we relooked at the whole F&B offering.

 It's quite an older clientele here at the moment, so we put sweetbreads on the menu [...] but the approach is innovative and modern. 

How would you describe your food here? 

Still the same, modern European, although I have simplified it. [...] 

Rather than try and do fifteen, twenty things, as we've all done in the past, it's now about simplicity. 

Working at Le Manoir you learnt a lot about seasonality. How does that reflect on the menu here? 

Le Manoir was a finishing school for me. It was about understanding how to get the best out of a product. How you cook it, treat it, whatever you do to it but get the best out of it, and that's very much the ethos of what we work to here.

How else did you define your style? 

I think it comes down to the simplicity. [...]

There's less leeway for mistakes to happen, and come service there's less mise en place for the guys to do, but ultimately what you get by doing that is that you get a clarity of flavours on the plate. And it's important that we, that the industry looks after the staff. 

We all know that it's a tough industry for hours and I think as an industry now we need to look at that. Eventually I'd like to get to 4 days on 3 days off.

Lamb (Restaurant)
Lamb, courgette, basil, aubergine, fermented black garlic, lovage puree

Can you tell me about three ingredients that are on the menu at The Capital at the moment and what you would make with them? 

We have lamb on with two types of courgette, basil oil, smoked aubergine, fermented black garlic - all those flavours that marry. When we construct that dish it's about a lovage puree, it's about the balance as it's quite strong.

Then we have a scallop dish on, with white asparagus lychee and walnut. 

For dessert we make a blackberry mousse, we use two different types of English Apple and a herb sorbet. 

It's really fresh and light the food, it's not overreduced. Someone in the restaurant referred to it as a feminine. I'm alright with that because it's a lightness of touch and of flavour, so people leave the restaurant full but not stuffed. 

On the Menu at The Capital with Adam Simmonds

How do you design a menu to make sure that everything is balanced? 

Just trial and error. [...] 

The more complex the dish, the longer it takes to get it right. 

Have you learnt any cooking and plating techniques recently that you enjoy doing at the moment? 

I wouldn't say so. [...]  Plating is plating, my plating used to be so precise, whereas now it's a lot freer and it's more natural looking, which is a sign of where I'm at as a chef and that I'm more confident in being able to do that.

Would you say that you're happy in this position and you see yourself staying here? Is your own restaurant off the cards now? 

For sure, it's a long term project here for me,  [...] and it's one that will take time for us to get it to where it needs to be staffing-wise as well as front of house and the whole aspect of it. And I'm relishing the chance to do that. 

Yeah, it's done, for sure. 

[...] 

 I would rather have tried than not to try and then to wonder. Whereas I've tried it, I've been through the pain barrier on a number of things. But I think if somebody has that ambition, then they should follow that ambition. 

I followed that ambition and it didn't work out for me, and I'm okay with that. If I hadn't done it then - I'm here now, this is my home as I call it.

Panna Cotta (Restaurant)
Coconut panna cotta, blackberry
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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 17th September 2019

On The Menu at The Capital with Adam Simmonds