No stranger to the restaurant business, Rick Stein knew what he wanted when he decided to take over an old brasserie called The Depot in Barnes.
This comes as somewhat of a surprise seeing as Stein’s restaurants were always opened in small fishing villages or sleepy towns tucked away in the country or along the coast.
But maybe Barnes isn’t the most unlikely venue for another branch of the Stein empire. Located in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, The Depot is perched right on the river but also far enough away from central London to feel quaint and village-like.
Stein says on his website: “Up until a couple of years ago I didn’t think I would open a restaurant in London.
“But when I was shown The Depot it struck me how perfect a place it was: right on the river and close to London whilst also being part of a real village community.”
Stein adds his name to the long list of celebrity chefs who have opened up their doors to hungry patrons in London, including Jamie Oliver’s non-profit Fifteen, Gordon Ramsay’s London House in Battersea, Le Gavroche run by Michel Roux Jr, and Dinner by Heston Blumenthal.
But although this marks the tenth establishment Stein has opened, the feel of the renovated Depot is still the same; open charm, simplicity, and homeliness.
These have been the cornerstones of all of Stein’s ventures and can be traced back to his humble origins in the quiet and picturesque village of Padstow.
A small fishing town in Cornwall, Rick Stein first put down roots in Padstow in 1975, after converting a mobile disco he ran with his wife Jill into a small bistro called the Seafood Restaurant.
Since then he has gone on to open up four restaurants, a café, various little shops and even a cookery school in the same town.
His influence there is so vast that it is often referred to as Padstein by locals and tourists alike.
At 70 years old, you might think, based on his traditional approach to food, that Stein is old-fashioned, but he is actually a frequent Tweeter who loves modern technology.
Stein, it seems, is one of many who makes great use out of social media and use it to their advantage. In a thorough interview with the Evening Standard, Stein spoke of using social media and its benefits.
“Twitter works well…I want to show people that I do read their tweets. It’s an interesting way of communication, maybe not if you are the President of the United States but if you just run a few restaurants it’s OK.”
Stein adds that he doesn’t mind Twitter trolls, but hates getting bad restaurant reviews.”
But is Rick Stein’s restaurant in Barnes something avant-garde? Hardly.
Based on its location in the south-west, not too far from London but not too close either, the restaurant embodies all the traits that have made Stein’s restaurants so successful in the first place: a sense of home and history, a dedication to everything local, and simple tasty food.
Featured image courtesy of Herry Lawford, with thanks