It's impossible to keep news of a new restaurant quiet - particularly when it's in an area that up to now hasn't had many decent places to eat out. Sandwiched between Stoke Newington and Highbury Petherton road (just north of St Paul's Road) has been a bit of a gastronomic desert. Until the arrival of Primeur.
It's the brainchild of two very well connected restaurant folk, David Gingell and Jeremie Cometto-Lingenheim. Jeremie has worked for Jackson & Frank Boxer, Gabriel Pryce, Will Ricker, Keith McNally and for the Wright Brothers which is where he met David who was their executive Head Chef. David's impressive CV reflects 20 years working for Wolseley, St.Alban, The Orrery, Gavin Bistrot Deluxe, L’Escargot, Wright Brothers, Bistrotheque & Shrimpy’s.
Front of house will be made up of mixture of folk they've both worked with; "It’s been the easiest recruitment exercise in 15 years," says Jeremie. "They have worked at Moro, Medcalf, Wright Brothers, River cafe etc… they all share a real passion for food, wine & a touch of the theatrical! We are all in it together for the same existential, romantic & gastronomic reasons, which is so refreshing."
The two floored restaurant on Petherton Road occupies a building that began life as a grocery and was a garage in the 1930s. The ground floor will be made up of communal tables and a dining counter sitting a total of 40 guests. And there's also a private dining room in the cellars which can host 14 diners. In addition to the dishes Jeremie tells us about (below) they'll also be serving up a weekend brunch menu which could include:
- Fried duck egg, brown shrimp, sea beet
- Ricotta pancakes, bacon, maple syrup
- Spiced sweet corn, fried eggs
- Smoked haddock and crab omelette
- Roast cod, ham hock, parsley
- Whole roast chicken, peas, bacon, lettuce (served family style)
Hot Dinners caught up with Jeremie just after he got the keys to the building on Petherton Road, to find out what we can expect from Primeur.
So what made you decide to break out on your own, and why now?
David Gingell and I have been working for other fantastic operators for the best part of 15 years. Each restaurant has its own set of unique qualities and if you do it for long enough, a picture of what your own restaurant should be starts to form in your mind. That vision becomes so dominant and defined so that it becomes very difficult to work for others.
David and I happen to share that vision which is that a restaurant should celebrate and encourage simplicity, honesty & conviviality throughout. From that moment, it was just a matter of finding the right site. The garage on Petherton Road transcends these ideas perfectly.
You're local to the area - did you have your eye on the site for a while?
The site is on the boundary between Hackney and Islington which makes for an interesting mix of people. I walked by the building on my way to “Rita’s” which I was helping set up at the time and was immediately charmed by the site’s natural welcoming character with its massive sliding doors that open up, facing the New River promenade. I was also touched by its story as the last remnant of a once thriving row of shops on the north side of Petherton road in the 1890s, now all turned into flats. When I heard the landlord wanted to throw in the towel and turn this magnificent place into domestic dwellings, the conservation revolutionary in me erupted and I became a one man mission to upset that plan.
What sort of place is it going to be? We presume it has something to do with wine...
Wine is a significant part of it yes, but doesn’t take center stage. Primeur will offer honest cooking and carefully crafted, low intervention wines in a convivial setting. Each component is key to create the whole picture but one does not outdo the others. It should feel as if we are entertaining friends in a farmyard somewhere between Dorset, France & Italy.
We used to throw “Pavement Parties” in Spitalfields 10 years ago when I lived on Princelet street. We would put a massive table outside with enough space to sit 30, we would have floating linen drapes from the windows above sheltering us from the sun and have friends & neighbours join us. Everyone would bring food and wine and we would eat and drink all day, sometimes late into the night. These were especially wonderful when Mark Hix, Sandra Esqulent, Iain Graham, Angela Hartnett, Rodney Archer & the entire staff of Bread & Wine would join the party. This is the spirit behind Primeur.
What kind of food can we expect?
One of David’s many cooking qualities is his range and versatility. David will be making up between 8 and 10 dishes daily to allow the offering to remains on point. Expect: duck rillette with pickled cucumber; sea bass & seaweed tartare; roast turbot, chicken wings; fish stew; rump steak with snails & garlic.
Similarly, while our cellar holds about 70 bins, we will only select 8/10 wines daily not only to complement the menu but to also to encourage a real sense of discovery of wines and the people who make them. You can’t do that with a static wine list. The restaurant needs to feel like a new experience each time you visit, hence Primeur, which in English translates into newness.
Primeur will open mid-May at 116 Petherton Road, London N5 2RT. Opening times will be Tuesday to Thursday 4pm-10.30pm, Friday-Saturday 11am-10.30pm, Sunday 11am-5pm. For more information, follow them on Twitter @Primeurs1