Our roving Michelin star chef has announced plans to open his second restaurant in Wiltshire with the contemporary twist of it being totally non-alcoholic. With a working name of The High & Dry, the new eaterie will be combining the Michelin-star cuisine of The Harrow at Little Bedwyn with fruit juices, cordials and soft drinks, in one case even using Irun-Bru in the cooking. Please note this story was written and published on April 1.
With an 8-course signature tasting menu accompanied by different forms of Cola, Jones’s announcement comes the same week that Hakassan has announced a 19-strong non alcoholic drinks menu.
Roger Jones has never been one to sit on his laurels, so to those who know the Michelin-star chef, it comes as no surprise that he is taking the proverbial ‘bull by the horns’ and opening a second restaurant that couldn’t be more different from the first.
In what some within the hospitality industry will see as a shock move Jones has decided to make second restaurant The High and Dry completely non-alcoholic.
“It’s time for a change, not only is the world changing but not many people know that my wife Sue and I, for example, are strictly vegan at home and never touch a drop of alcohol,” says Jones, “although it has to be said we are not home that often.”
Not only are all the tasting dishes at High & Dry paired with soft drinks but the restaurant is also using soft drinks within the cuisine itself. Jones has been a long-time fan of tropical juice Um Bongo and finally has an outlet for his family favourite recipe Slow-Cooked Belly of Pork in a Reduction of Um Bongo.
Other recipes will include Cream Soda foam and Tizer jus.
In a move which will also raise many an eyebrow in the wine industry the restaurant’s signature 8 course tasting menu will be accompanied by eight forms of Cola.
“I want to reflect regional variation, so one dish will be served with Pepsi,” says Jones.
The dish in question, Pan Fried Foie Gras with Compote of English Leeks, will be paired with Pepsi Max, the compote itself featuring baby spring leeks, cooked sous vide with Dandelion & Burdock, “a quintessentially British dish,” he adds.
Long-term glassware supplier Riedel has already been working with High & Dry to create official stemware in time for the restaurant’s opening in July.
“The official litre Coke glasses really look the business, although we may have to look at reducing the measures by offering smaller glasses. In one of the tests some diners found 8 glasses a bit too much to handle.”
Jones is also promising changes with table service. All staff at High & Dry will be required to wear a name badge on the breast of their uniform with one gold star denoting Jones’ one Michelin star.
“A lot of diners don’t know I have a Michelin star so this is a subtle way of reinforcing that recognition,” he adds. “If I get a second Michelin star at High & Dry then the staff will wear two gold stars and so on.”
With another eye on the future the name of the restaurant High & Dry has been created to allow for any changes in legislation regarding cannabis drinks, that are currently the rage in many States in the US.
“I have never been a big fan of the old wacky backy, apart from the odd doobie at a Super Furry Animals gig, but we will see cannabis drinks appearing in restaurants in our lifetime,” predicts Jones.
One thing that will be happening sooner rather than later is a blind tasting competition of the drinks menu at The Harrow at Little Bedwyn and the drinks menu at High & Dry at Great Bedwyn – pitting alcoholic versus non-alcoholic.
“The quality of the non-alcoholic drinks is so good I honestly believe that people will be hard-pressed to tell the difference,” says Jones.
Provisionally titled The Judgment of Bedwyn, Steven Spurrier has been approached to chair the event. At the time of going to press the French judges have so far declined to take part.