Expect a party atmosphere and constant vibrancy in the new food destination for Paddington this year
It seems almost like yesterday that Paddington was a desert when it came to good places to eat and drink; Sheldon Square was empty (the estimable Pearl Liang aside) of top-notch restaurants, the station offered nothing and the streets around it were a pitiful assembly of inedible culinary tragedy.
How times change. Now, it’s one of the buzziest and most exciting areas in west London, and the opening of the new bar and restaurant Lockhouse Paddington should do a good deal to keep its reputation very much going.
We caught up recently with the owners and founders of Lockhouse, Dan Shotton and Mark Draper, about what their grand plans for the future are. As Shotton puts it, when asked why they opened Lockhouse: ‘We wanted to create a relaxed venue that centred on offering the best street food inspired dishes along with some of the best craft beers on the market – and was fun to hang out.’
From first impressions, Lockhouse definitely ticks the boxes on all these fronts. And why Paddington? ‘The amount of new development taking place in Paddington is monumental, and the area is destined to become a new, vibrant central London hub,’ says Draper. ‘It’s great to be part of this evolution from the start and to create a brand that has the same ambitions for long-term growth.’
One of the ways in which the brand is going to be developed is in the burgers, which have aspirations to be some of London’s best. But what’ll make them stand out? Draper tells me that it’s all in the beef. ‘We only use prime, aged Scottish beef and each of our burgers are hand pressed for the best consistency,’ he says. ‘We’ve also developed our own signature Lockhouse relish and have a heap of different toppings on the menu to suit all tastes.’
And craft beer fans are going to be very happy as well, as there’s a wall of beers. ‘We’re both huge fans of craft beer – both on tap and by the bottle, and Lockhouse will be a showcase of the best out there,’ says Draper. ‘We’ll have around 20 beers on tap at any one time – both UK and international brews, and a good selection of lesser-known brands. The craft beer movement in the UK is an incredibly exciting one to be involved with and it’s still evolving. We can’t wait to present our well-selected range to the people of Paddington.’
Obviously, 2017 promises to be a big year for the emerging restaurant. Shotton notes that: ‘Whilst we are looking at expanding the Lockhouse brand into new areas in the future, the start of 2017 is all about getting this site up, running and established. We’re always on the lookout for potential new sites, and as business owners are eager to continue our expansion plans both in central London and the wider area.’
To this end, the craft beers and eclectic wine list are going to be matched by an impressive selection of cocktails; Shotton tells me that they’re ‘going all out’ with their list, and singles out a couple of signature ones, including the Lockhouse Bloody Mary and The Lock Party – featuring a very on brand beer top and Lock Stock, their mescal and papaya blended take on a classic margarita. It promises to be a very merry occasion.
Both of them come from an established background in hospitality, and have run a range of successful bars and pubs for much of the last decade. Nonetheless, it’s a challenge, albeit one that both are happy to embrace. As Draper says: ‘One of the biggest perks of setting up your own hospitality business is having to regularly check out the competition and keep abreast of new and emerging trends – it’s an area of our jobs that we take very seriously!
‘London is a melting pot of great new and emerging food and drinks brands and I think the eclectic mix of restaurants available any night of the week is enough to fuel anyone interested in developing a successful dining venture. We also take a lot of inspiration from overseas. New York delis and diners have had a huge influence in our development of Lockhouse, along with the scale to which the craft beer scene in the States has grown and dramatically inspired the palates and preferences of UK consumers.’
It all bodes exceptionally well for the inhabitants of W2 – to say nothing of the hordes of nearby commuters – having a stylish, fun and interesting place on their doorstep, which will hopefully fill a substantial gap in the marketplace. ‘It’s an all-day hangout offering well-crafted food and drink – done better,’ finishes Shotton. Whatever happens, we can’t wait to make it one of the most appealing and interesting local hang-outs, and those burgers sound unmissably delicious.
31-33 Merchant Square W2 1AZ; 020 7706 4253; lockhouselondon.com