Friday, 30 October 2009

The Draft House - Open for Business. Some thanks...

So, after a collossal amount of thought, stress, dust, money, great ideas, dreadful ideas (all of which might better be summarised as Sturm und Drang or in reality just so much  Smoke and Light), The Draft House Northcote Road is open.

I hope the end result matches our ambition at the beginning. I think it does. That ambition was to make a place that did for draft beer (our national drink after all - in spite of the horrors visited upon it) what our culture has done for food and wine over the past twenty years. Namely to take the quality, provenance and serving of it seriously - and to celebrate choice. With 17 beers on tap and more than fifty in bottle I think we have certainly achieved the latter. No less important we wanted to provide good, honest food and warm service with heart. This last is the hardest to achieve but I think we will get there, no doubt with a few stumbles along the way. We hope you will come and take a look, try a pint of thirds and an ox-tongue fritter and (PLEASE) let us know what you think.

As we won't be having an opening party until January I wanted to get some thank-yous in.

We have a lot of people to thank, none more than those who haven't shown up yet - our beloved customers, or guests as we must now call you. Well, actually, you have shown up - in spite of the lack of signage, in spite of the pile of builder's rubble outside (yes, only the inside is finished - we hope that by tonight the rest will be more or less done) and we love you for it.

But I must also thank:

  • Our stalwart architect, Richard Blandy - an island of calm in an uncertain, floating world
  • Wayne Barrell - our builder. Yes, we still are on speaking terms (but then, I haven't had the final bill yet). Wayne has been very tolerant and cheerful of a project wherein the specification has been pretty much made up as we went along.
  • the stupendously cool and stylish Frith Kerr of Studio Frith for her relentlessness in preventing me from being naff 
  • Justin Anderson for the work of art which will adorn the currently blank sign on the exterior. And for being my early sounding board ref the Draft House - he was surprisingly tolerant for a teetotaller. Noone I have met is more creative.
  • our chef, Simon Noumar for riding to the rescue after Chef #1 walked out after a week (legals prevent me from fully expressing myself on that subject). Simon, what a top man you are.
  • Matt Jacomb, for introducing me to Simon.
  • Greig Middleton, for stewarding us so calmly and gracefully through the brand development process.
  • To the blaggers and bloggers who agreed to be Guinea Pigs - you know who you are
  • To Mathilde for letting me use her photos from this week. 
  • Leigh Milner, for giving up all conjugal rights over her fiance Adam Simmons during this process
  • Le Cafe Anglais for tolerating my complete lack of focus over the past two weeks (actually, I imagine you were thrilled)
  • The whole team at The Westbridge (see Le Cafe Anglais) but also for tolerating being a dumping ground for endless Draft House detritus
  • To the new team at Northcote Road - good luck!
  • Theo Fordham of Twenty Retail for finding the site (and looking at 100 others we didn't take)
  • Alex Mole (now GM at Westbridge). Again, ports in storms and all that.
  • Juan (pronounced Jewan) Christian - our Manx man who we knew was a star from the first moment he walked in the door at Westbridge three years ago and who will now be running The Draft House 
  • Charlie Moul for fixing everything (and for his gasp of pleasure when he first sipped a Draft House Light Lager yesterday)
  • To Sof (the lovely Mrs McVeigh) for tolerating an almost terminal state of distraction and general work-related solipsism (thanks babe)
  • Adam Simmons (the main man at Westbridge and Draft House) for quite simply keeping the whole goddamn show on the road. Only yesterday did he finally lose it, and sent himself home for a rest. An hour later he was back smiling. Adam, your determination to get the job done and the general leadership shown has been extraordinary. Thanks, pal.
There is of course a lot more to say but I'll save that for a future post. Onwards and upwards...

The Draft House Northcote Road
94 Northcote Road
London SW11 6QW
020 7924 1814

Friday, 9 October 2009

So, what did my sister's show look like?

This is how it looked. Without the celebrities. The demi-monde. The critics. I am told she almost sold it out the night before anyway. I wonder if she can lend me a dime?

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Two Thrilling Wine Dinners at Le Cafe Anglais Up-Coming

We are very pleased to announce – at rather short notice, I know – the return of Paolo de Marchi to Le Cafe Anglais. Maker of sublime Chianti (Gordon Brown won’t be coming then), the legendary Cepparello and now forging ahead with wines from his family estate in Piedmont, Paolo is an old friend whose wines are very dear to our hearts. After last year’s brilliant dinner, it would have been criminal not to get him back. Expect an evening of wonderful wine, some gutsy autumnal food and an opportunity to meet one of the wine world’s most modest but engaging personalities. Priced at £70.00 (plus service), this is a date not to be missed. Please check your diaries for Tuesday October 13th and book without delay.



Our next dinner promises to be a rare treat. Giles MacDonogh is a man of many talents. A great expert on German and Austrian food and wine, he has written extensively on the subject (especially in that great paper of record, The Financial Times) and was chairman of the German and Austrian panels of this year’s Decanter Wine Awards Giles may be better known as a historian, specialising in twentieth century German history. His most recent book, 1938: Hitler’s Gamble was extremely well reviewed on its publication in June. Giles has a third string to his bow, being a painter of striking architectural images(go to  to learn more). Ostensibly an evening of Austrian food and wine (think Tafelsptitz, Kracher and Brundlmayer), this should be a highly stimulating and enjoyable dinner on Monday October 19th. Priced at £70.00 plus service.

To book call 020 7221 1415 or e-mail us at