Atul Kochhar tries Brit cuisine

Chef Atul Kochhar of Benares – Mayfair’s well-known ‘nouvelle Indian’ – is turning the tables by launching his first restaurant to celebrate British food — and in a quintessentially English setting.

Hawkyns opens on January 15 inside the marvellously traditional Crown Inn in Amersham. (It is named after Sir William Hawkyns, apparently a representative of the East India Company in 1607 and founder of British commercial interests in the subcontinent.)

As well as running Benares, Kochhar has other restaurants in Marlow and Petts Wood, as well as Madrid, Dubai, Mumbai and on board P&O ships, but Hawkyns is his first take on British food — albeit with Indian spicing, in dishes such as chicken tikka pie and tamarind duck with salt-baked celeriac.

“I’m incredibly excited,” said Kochhar. “This is going to be my first restaurant offering a modern approach to traditional British cuisine — something I’ve always wanted to do.”

The Crown is an Elizabethan coaching inn that enjoyed its moment of fame as the scene of Hugh Grant and Andi Mcdowell’s tryst in Four Weddings and a Funeral. Notwithstanding the ugly pedestrianisation imposed on downtown Amersham in decades gone by, The Crown retains a splendid period interior with a feeling of genuine antiquity. Perhaps it may now become a gastronomic landmark too?


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