The Old Street roundabout is about to get an injection of life with the arrival of a new spot that will add a shot in the arm to City Road, with some of the names involved already familiar to anyone closely following London's food and drinks scene.
Jonathan Downey and The Rushmore Group (owner of Milk & Honey, Giant Robot, Redhook, The Player, Danger of Death), have taken over the former METER pizza on the corner of Featherstone Street and City Road, and will open the doors in just over two weeks time over the ground floor and basement, in a ten month project being coined as a 'new British Diner'. Final tweaks to the menu and the renovation of the building itself continue until the official opening on 1st March 2013.
The ground floor will operate as a bar/diner open to all, with the basement space below becoming a members lounge and wine room, initially open to existing members of The Rushmore Group.
A big coup for the opening is the involvement of street food favourites Yum Bun, installed in their own shop next to the ground floor bar, where they will serve their famous pork buns all day, the first time they have had the opportunity to cook under a roof (we'll have more info about this soon).
Carl Clarke of Disco Bistro takes over the running of the main kitchen, serving buns and tacos - that means fish tacos, vegetarian tacos, chicken rolls, and the Rotary Burger. Snacks will be served all day, including buttermilk fried chicken wings, 'Crackled Scallops', and 'Maple Pea Fritters'. A robata grill in the kitchen will serve steaks and grills, and there will be some BBQ items and ribs on the menu too. Desserts will feature 'Pudding Cups' such as Chocolate Maramalade, with a choice of sprinkles on top: 'Smashed Oreo', 'Rhubarb Sherbet', and 'White Chocolate and Preserved Lemon.
The refurbishment of both floors has been something of a 'sustainable' sourcing mission, with much of the interior details such as ceiling and wall tiles, as well as furniture, having been salvaged from the 'leftovers' of other Rushmore Group projects: "We've probably put together the equivalent of a £2m fit-out for less than 10% of that", Downey told us. "Most of the interior has been re-cycled from our Hoxton lock-up."
The wine room in the members lounge will be a big focus, the wines focusing mostly on South America, including forays into the less well known wines of Brazil and Uruguay. Sparkling wines branch outside of the region, taking in some quality grower Champagne from Forget Brimont, and English fizz from Coates and Seely, Balfour and Nyetimber.
We've had an early look at the members lounge downstairs, and it could be described as taking shape as a bit of a 'Frankenstein's Beauty', with elements of several Rushmore venues having been reclaimed and stitched together. "Parts of the ceiling and tiles here are from The East Room, some from The Player, as well as pieces from Redhook and Milk & Honey", Downey explains.
We wondered about the "open for ten months only" line on the @RotaryBarDiner Twitter profile, and Downey told us what this means: "The entire city block where we are is scheduled for demolition and redevelopment and so we only have a short lease until the end of the year. To some extent this project is a bit ‘smash & grab’ and we’re looking forward to a cracking 10 months.”
A couple of events have already been slated, the first being the Chile Stand Off on 2nd March (sold out), and the Latitude Launch pencilled in for 7th March.
Rotary Bar and Diner (and Yum Bun) opens at 70 City Road, London EC1Y 2BJ on March 1st. There will be a soft opening on 25th - 28th Feb (details to be revealed). Follow them on @RotaryBarDiner for more info.