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Interview with Yuma Hashemi of The Drunken Butler

We caught up with Yuma Hashemi, Head chef and proud owner of The Drunken Butler restaurant to get the low down on his latest venture, opening next door to The Rosebery very soon…

What can we expect from The Drunken Butler?

French cuisine with Persian influences, which is part of my heritage and it’s the food I grew up with. To start with we’ll be open for dinner, and also in the mornings for speciality coffee and Sicilian pastries, baked here in our kitchen.

Describe your typical day…

Everything is new, I’m learning something different every day… Right now, it’s not about cooking; I’m doing everything from overseeing the building works and ensuring we don’t make any mistakes, as well as trying to keep our neighbours happy! I’m also in a lot of meetings with suppliers, and building our social media, the brand and telling everyone who will listen about The Drunken Butler.

Where did the name come from?

It comes from a story I was told in Surrey. I was in a National Trust house which was owned by a woman called Mrs Greville – it was a kind of party house and she would host many dinner parties. She had a lot of staff and in particular, a butler called Mr Bacon. He used to finish the bottles of alcohol that were being served and eat the food, getting tipsy along the way. One night he drank a little too much and Mrs Greville sent her butler a note which said ‘you are too drunk, you should leave the room’. He looked at it, folded it back up and gave it to the guest of honour, Austen Chamberlain. Mr Chamberlain was very offended and when Mrs Greville found out about the mix-up, she explained the situation and he replied that he’d never been told off by a drunken butler. I thought this was such a funny story and it has always stuck with me, so I decided to name my restaurant after The Drunken Butler!

What has been your most memorable moment?

When I was a child, I always asked myself what was happening behind the swing doors at restaurants and to this day, that’s still my fondest memory. It’s where it all started. Being in the kitchen where the magic happens is so exciting!

What type of food will you be serving up?

Sharing plates, with dishes such as smoked oyster and kimchi, and fermented burnt leeks with foie gras. Diners can also request set tasting menus or trust the chef entirely to create something special. All dishes will be seasonal and there will be lots of fermenting too.

What’s your favourite dish from the menu?

A dish called coucou sabzi, which is a recipe from my grandma and is kind of like a Persian omelette served with pickles. It doesn’t sound very interesting, but it tastes wonderful.

Why did you choose to open a restaurant in Clerkenwell?

I’m a big fan of east and west London and I think Clerkenwell has a vibe from both sides which I like very much. It’s also where I found the space; when I saw this building I loved the red and white brickwork outside and the large window, where you can see right into the restaurant. As soon as I saw the place, I imagined everything that I could do with it.

What was behind the design concept for the restaurant?

It’s my personal taste, which I hope everyone will like… I’ve tried to use as many British products as possible. I’m having an open kitchen by the large window and a communal table, which is a very important part of the concept. There’s also more table seating for smaller parties and a bar. The decor will be white, bare plaster and wood with the large marble table in the middle.

How long did it take you from the initial idea to finish?

Well I haven’t finished yet, but the first time I visited the space was by coincidence in May 2017. We got the ball rolling in July and I’m planning to open next month, so it’s all been pretty quick!

Finally, when are you expecting to open the doors to The Drunken Butler?

Early November; I don’t have an exact date yet, so stay tuned!

We can’t wait for the new opening in November and we’re very excited to be sharing a space with such a great concept. You can find out more info at The Drunken Butler.

You can also find The Drunken Butler on social:

Instagram: @thedrunikenbutler

Facebook: @thedrunkenbutler

Twitter: @SYumaHashemi

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