The British fish menu comes with a romance that is hard to replicate in Knightsbridge. It takes quite a character be as comfortable with the shopping bags of the Royal Boroughs, as he is the cottages of Cornwall. Cue; Nathan Outlaw.
When Outlaw barrelled into a little reception room for our interview at the Capital Hotel, I expected to stand on ceremony for the Master & Commander of British Fish. But this is not at all Nathan. Instead, he is the bloke you want cooking your fish.
“I’ve sort of just become the fish guy” Outlaw says, (assumedly only half joking) “this is the only place you can get decent fish in London.” Listening to him talk about sustainable sourcing and experimenting with menus, you quickly realise how extensive his knowledge of fish is.
But, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing, as Outlaw explains “there are certain things that won’t work in London, but which are very successful” in Port Isaac, Outlaw’s two Michelin starred Cornish restaurant. “With a lovely sea view” and “nice clean air, simple cooking works, but on a street in Knightsbridge, the dishes don’t have that romance.”
That is really the truth of Knightsbridge. It does have its own, distinct romance.
In Cornwall you might chat to Callum who catches the crabs that you eat. But, in Knightsbridge Outlaw’s restaurant is “one minute to Harrods, two to Harvey Nichs.” The religion of Knightsbridge is service and quality, and the romance relies on the service.
“Albeit what we do is fine dining,” Outlaw explains, “it’s informal and approachable.” The ethos is “if you want to fill your restaurant and to have a buzzing atmosphere, people have to be comfortable.” Shedding the old Knightsbridge “robotic service” Outlaw has married the approachability of a Cornish village with the fine dining experience the world expects in Knightsbridge.
“I’ve sort of just become the fish guy”
“In the past a stuffy, very, very formal” restaurants defined Knightsbridge “and I personally don’t think there is any place for that when you are dining out today, whether you are in Cornwall, Kent or Knightsbridge.”
This is the key to Outlaw and why his restaurant is so successful. Knightsbridge is proudly considered by its inhabitants as a London village. Just like in villages up and down the country, patrons are actually just “regulars” and Outlaw has plenty. People know each other, they meet up and eat with each other, recommending places to friends. When you walk into Outlaw’s restaurant, regardless of whether you are in Knightsbridge or Cornwall, the warm service you’ll receive will put you in mind of only the very best, and most quintessentially British of establishments.