Tom Brown After Hours

Nathan Outlaw’s protégé has just opened his first restaurant to rave reviews. Fleur Rollet-Manus talks about Sundays in Hackney Wick, chatty fishmongers and how to snag a table at Cornerstone

Where have you been lately that’s inspired you?

I went to visit my brother who lives in Oaxaca, Mexico recently and have put a scallop dish on the menu that’s a recipe from his girlfriend’s mum. They put this spicy green tomatillo salsa with everything and I just knew pairing it with scallops would be incredible. I’m also off to Marrekech soon and am very excited to try new dishes there.

What about the best place you’ve eaten recently?

Sabor in Heddon Street. Every dish that came out was just insane. The mussels in a bilbaína sauce is one of those dishes that I’ll never forget. You know when you just put it in your mouth and your eyes roll to the back of your head? You sit back in your chair and think, ‘give me more of this’. The fact that it’s so authentically Spanish makes you question whether you’re still in London, too.

Where’s the best coffee in east London?

There’s a really great place just around the corner from the restaurant called Thingy. It’s set up in a record shop called Vinyl Pimp. You’ll always find a member of the Cornerstone staff in there.

Where would we find you and the team on a night out?

We just follow the music. We always start in Crate Brewery, sitting on the canal in warm weather is a great way to start the evening. They have great drinks and fantastic pizzas.

And on a Sunday morning?

At Pavilion Café, sitting by the little lake in Victoria Park. They do a really nice Sri Lankan breakfast with authentic string hoppers and coconut sambal.

You work with a lot of small suppliers. Who should we use?

Secret Smokehouse in London Fields is amazing – all our smoked fish comes from there. It’s the best in London. I’ve never tasted anything like their smoked salmon. We’ve normally got it on the menu in some shape or form. Go in and ask for Max but prepare yourself for a conversation as he’s a talker. Natural Born Wines is another. They have a shop in Borough Market and are a married couple who run the shop out of their house in Dulwich. Once a month they have a night where everyone goes and tests the wine. Tasting their wine changed our whole philosophy at the restaurant.

How do we go about getting a table at Cornerstone?

Show up with Alex Turner from the Arctic Monkeys or anyone from Arsenal’s first XI. Kidding. Booking in advance is always best, but sometimes it’s worth just turning up as we always keep a couple of spare tables for walk-ins. There’s nothing worse than walking into a restaurant and hearing, ‘no, sorry we’re full’. Lunch is a good time, too; there are often tables available then.

Ok, we’ve got a table. What should we order?

Start at the top and finish at the bottom, so you get to try a bit of everything. We’ve got a beautiful raw bream dish with brown butter and caper and lemon dressing. The pickled oysters are a dish that everyone loves and the chocolate fondant is a good way to finish.

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