Amethyst sounds like a much more ambitious restaurant than Xier, is that the case?
This has been over two years in the making. Like Xier, my focus is on fine dining tasting menus and the team and I have worked hard on the dishes ahead of the launch. At the center of Amethyst is a 21 seat chef’s table, which spans the whole of the ground floor and is right by the kitchen, where the menu is a 12-course tasting menu. I want to take diners on a culinary journey based on my own travels and my menu is very ambitious, with a real mix of flavors and cuisines in every dish.
Where did the idea for the concept come from?
I’ve always wanted to create a unique dining experience where I can take my diners on a journey in an elegant and calming space. Amethyst is inspired by my trips across the world and the flavors and techniques I’ve learned along the way. I’m really proud of what we have achieved. And as for the name, my birthstone is an Amethyst.
The menu features Nordic, Japanese, French and Arabic flavor profiles, which are all very distinct. How do you go about marrying them together successfully in a fine-dining setting?
I love experimenting with different flavors and have been working hard with my team to create a menu which encompasses all the ingredients I love. Marrying all the flavor profiles takes diners on a multi-sensory dining experience. Every individual and curated dish is part of the experience where different cuisines are playing part. I hope diners will feel that a piece of a country has been brought to them at their table.
What dishes on the launch menu are you particularly proud of?
This is a tough one. The menu changes regularly depending on what ingredients are best in season, but off the current menu, I would say one of the dishes I’m most proud of is the black cod with burnt hay, caramelised miso and a naganegi dashi. This is definitely one of my signatures. The development of my dishes has taken a lot of time and persistence, plus some mistakes along the way, but I’m really pleased with the dishes on the menu.
Tell us more about the chef’s table. How do you ensure each party is able to have their own space within the setting?
We’ve had it specially made for the restaurant and it’s a real showstopper. I wanted a chef’s table where diners can come together to share in the experience, but also feel like they had their own private space. The table itself is blended with real amethyst and quartz, with space for 21 covers. It’s not a straight-forward rectangle though – we’ve designed it to have irregular edges throughout which jut in and out. Each little section seats two, so each group of diners can feel like they have their own table. Or they can come together and talk with others around the table.
Originally it was suggested that diners at the chef’s table would be able to prepare one of the dishes themselves over the course of the menu, is that still the case?
This is still the case, but only for larger group bookings. The chef’s table caters itself well for larger groups and private dinners, located right in front of the pass. For this, my team and I will be doing demonstrations and interacting directly with the diners. For regular service, this is less likely as we found with varying booking times and group sizes, we would not be able to manage the timings and serving the entire restaurant. But the pass is right by the chef’s table so that does not mean I will not step out of the kitchen to host some demonstrations.
How theatrical is the experience?
The theater comes from the plating and presentation of the dishes. Each plate is unique in how it is served and how the diner experiences it. I do not want to give too much away, but there is a course without cutlery, for example. Diners are encouraged to lick the plate and then lick their fingers at the end. It’s not like that for the entire meal, but I wanted to bring something different to the table! I would say it takes two to three hours for the 12-course meal, especially with a wine pairing; but our lower ground floor will also be serving a six-course menu, which diners can choose if they wish.
You mention holding an extensive collection of wines …
Our wonderful sommelier Filippo Carnevale has curated the wine list at Amethyst. We offer a classic wine pairing option plus a Prestige collection with rare vintages. Filippo has meticulously gone through the flavor profiles of each dish to pair with the wines and will also adjust to a guest’s personal taste. Among all the wines features you can find include: 2016 Meursault `Les Narvaux` Yves Boyer-Martenot; in 2002 Château Cos d’Estournel; and the 1997 Saintsbury, Brown Ranch Pinot Noir, Los Carneros.
Your first solo restaurant, Xier, launched in 2018 and then closed in 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. What are your learnings from that whole experience?
It was a tough time for the industry and know we are still facing challenges now. However, I learned a lot during my time running Xier and have taken these on board for Amethyst. I’m glad to be back in the kitchen and welcoming guests into my restaurant again.
Do you have any ambitions to resurrect Xier one day?
Right now, my focus is on Amethyst. I want to make Amethyst the best it can be and I’m excited to see where it will go. Maybe further in the future, I could see another restaurant, but not for Xier.