Saturday 8 January 2011
Dylan Jones: 'Why not have a pop-up restaurant in a dry-cleaner’s, a cheese shop, a garage or even in a gym?'
There used to be an old-fashioned working man's caff in Shepherd's Bush that, in the evening, would be magically transformed into a rather smart bohemian restaurant for slumming west Londoners. I also remember various places in New York in the Eighties that would be one thing in the daytime – shop, coffee bar, café, etc – and another at night (usually a pop-up restaurant or a nightclub). But up until last week I'd never eaten in a fishmonger's.
Just eight months old, Pescheria Mattiucci is a fishmonger's by day and pop-up fish restaurant by night. Run by brothers Luigi and Gennaro Mattiucci, the Pescheria – or "fish boutique" – seats only 10, but serves the same quality fish and gourmet Italian delicacies that they have been providing at their shop in Naples for many years. Everything is line-caught and then transported from the fishermen's boats in Sicily, Naples and Sardinia to Notting Hill in less than 12 hours, ensuring that you have the catch of the day on your plate for dinner that night.
The atmosphere is special as it feels as though you're eating in your own kitchen. And unlike most pop-ups in London, it isn't full of trendies. No, people come here for the food, the service, the experience and the anecdote ("I went to this divine little restaurant in a fish shop last night..."). As for the food, well, I've certainly never tasted sushi or fish carpaccio like they serve here (ask for the sharing platters of "crudo mediterrano" – chunks of raw fish dipped in nothing more than a little olive oil, lemon juice and salt). The fish pasta is pretty extraordinary, too, as is the wine (don't choose, just ask what they have).
We were introduced to the place by some Italian friends, and we haven't had so much fun in ages. So much so that I've begun seeking out similar "experiential" restaurants: why not, for instance, have a restaurant in a bookshop, or a garage, or – and I think this one certainly has traction – a brothel? Why not open a pop-up in a dry-cleaner's, a cheese shop, an ironmonger's, or even a gym?
I especially like the last idea, as the waitresses could all be dressed in... Oh, sorry, I got a little carried away there.
Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'
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