No-one has done more than the Gladwin brothers in bringing a flavour of the countryside to London – and another course awaits with the opening of their third restaurant
Words: Alexander Larman
There aren’t enough teams of brother-restaurateurs in London, or anywhere else for that matter, which is why the Gladwins – Richard, Oliver and Gregory – are such a cheery breath of fresh air.
Hailing from a farm in Sussex, they are united by a love of seasonal British produce, which they have shared with grateful diners courtesy of their restaurants The Shed in Notting Hill and Rabbit on the King’s Road. Attracting A-list stars and casual visitors with the same nonchalance, they’ve brought a slice of the countryside into west London while keeping their integrity and interest intact.
All three of them have clearly defined roles within the family business. The slick and charismatic Richard is the general overseer and manager of the restaurants, while the amusing and laid-back Oliver is the executive chef (I don’t meet Gregory because ‘he’s foraging down in Sussex’).
Successful and assured, they’re about to open a third restaurant in an iconic, but at-the-time-of-writing-secret Battersea location, and they’re constantly aware that they’ve got to keep their own distinct brand of quirky but high-end dining as fresh as the meat and vegetables that appear daily from their farm. They’re busy – except, as Oliver notes, ‘for Sunday afternoons down the pub’ – but, as Richard says with as genuine a smile as I’ve ever seen a restaurateur summon up, ‘it’s good to be busy’!
Since setting up The Shed in 2012 – ‘We were lured here by girls, and Notting Hill girls at that!’ – they’ve concentrated on bringing an ethos that’s rather different to the usual frantic London restaurant scene. Richard claims that their big advantage is their link to Sussex.
Because Sussex is so near, it’s a really useful supply line. We have a symbiotic relationship to the land and the country that other places just don’t have
‘Because it’s so near, it’s a really useful supply line,’ he says, ‘and so we have a symbiotic relationship to the land and the country that other places just don’t have.’
Oliver chimes in at this point to say ‘we use British ingredients in a seasonal fashion, but it doesn’t have to be old-fashioned Scotch eggs and pork pies; we can use fresh techniques, and we didn’t want an ethos that has any boundaries, other than what we can use throughout the year. It’s the natural movement of availability that dictates what’s on our menus, not arbitrary trends.’
They’re candid enough to admit that the runaway success of The Shed came as something of a surprise, but they were both wise and far-sighted enough to realise that there has been a ready market for so-called ‘wild food’ in London restaurants, which has seen their business prosper and develop in the most innovative of ways.
Oliver wanted Rabbit to be the best bespoke wild food restaurant that we could possibly build
Richard sums it up best when he describes how ‘Oliver wanted Rabbit to be “the best bespoke wild food restaurant that we could possibly build”’, and so a new kitchen was installed to his exact specifications. With their new restaurant promising to open to serve breakfast (‘proper sausages and bacon, not your processed rubbish’), there’s no end in sight to the brothers’ domination.