Pavilion Road’s foodie revolution continues as Notting Hill’s favourite brunch spot, Granger & Co, sets up shop in Chelsea
The butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker got a rough deal in the evolution of the British high street. With every carbon-copy supermarket with a catchy TV slogan and beaming poster-boy chef came the demise of the home-grown independents, who struggled to keep up with London’s rocketing rents. But in 2016, after a consultation with local residents, Cadogan Estates and a handful of foodie fanatics declared a revolution, announcing plans to bring an army of skilled artisans to a small corner of Chelsea.
The result is Pavilion Road which has, in the past six months, become a haven for independent artisans, including fruit and veg specialist Natoora, oenophile Pavilion Wine, family butcher Provenance, bakery Bread Ahead and fromage fanatic London Cheesemongers. Rumour has it that a series of boutique shops and a vegan café are being prepped to join the fleet too, but before then a well-known brunch spot with an Aussie twist will be opening its doors to the masses.
Those who’ve frequented Notting Hill’s Westbourne Grove will know of the notoriously long queues Granger & Co attracts and, if you’ve been lucky enough to get a table, you’ll no doubt have sampled its famous scrambled egg dishes or the Instagram-worthy ricotta hotcakes. The man behind the menu is cheery Australian Bill Granger, a Notting Hill local who has lived in the capital for the past seven years, and who has just opened his fourth London-based restaurant on Pavilion Road.
“Before I moved [to London], I looked at a site in Chelsea and I always really liked it, especially that part of Pavilion Road – I love its everyday nature,” he tells me over coffee at The Laslett. “It has a really nice local feel, off one of the busiest parts of London: Sloane Square.”
Beginning his career with a stint in art school, Granger quickly swapped swatches for saucepans after a part-time job as a waiter gave him a buzz for the kitchen. He opened his first restaurant, Bills, in Sydney in 1993, and it was quickly followed by two more. In 2008, he ventured overseas to Japan, and in 2011 he brought his ricotta hotcakes to the UK with the launch of Granger & Co in Westbourne Grove and later Clerkenwell. The concept is simple: all-day dining with an emphasis on health.
“People want fresh, healthy food; a lot of our customers eat out four, five, maybe even ten times a week,” says Granger. “Eating out used to be a special occasion thing but now I think there’s room for a more balanced diet, with the way we all eat out.”
It’s this that Chelsea’s foodies can expect from the new branch, along with its classic eggs and burger dishes. The design, however, will differ from its Notting Hill and Clerkenwell siblings, taking on a more “luxe” vibe to match the locale. “Restaurants always reflect the area that they’re in and Chelsea is a little more grown-up and polished than Notting Hill,” he laughs.
This will be Granger’s fourth restaurant in the capital, a city he was drawn to, he tells me, for “adventure”. “London is the most dynamic, changing, creative city in the world, and to live here is an honour, and that’s why it attracts people from all over the world,” he says. “And the food scene is just great; I cannot go to all the restaurants I want to go to – there are just so many, and they’re all so good.”
His top picks are River Café for special occasions, Skye Gyngell’s Spring, Hereford Road for its lunch deal, Falafel King on Portobello Road “for the best falafel this side of Tel Aviv” and Casa Cruz “for feeling like you’ve landed in another country”.
Travel is a huge source of inspiration for the cook, and he has a particular soft spot for Japan, where he now has four restaurants and another opening imminently. His top destinations are Florence, Kyoto and Melbourne, which has “some of the best food in the world”.
Where’s next on the bucket list? “Peru – for the food. Everyone says how amazing it is. And India too – I haven’t been since I was 19 and backpacking, and I’d love to go on an ayurvedic health retreat for a week.” Something tells me ricotta hotcakes won't be on the menu...