Dining with Lunatics in the Potteries

The most ambitious new museum restaurant in Britain opens next week at the World of Wedgwood, a visitor attraction and ceramics collection in the Staffordshire village of Barlaston. Lunar is directed by Niall Keating (above right), executive chef at Dorset’s Whatley Manor and a former Michelin Young European Chef of the Year and Great British Menu champion, who grew up nearby in Stoke-on-Trent.

Called Lunar, the restaurant is a tribute to Josiah Wedgwood, the leading light of the Potteries, and his friends in the 18th-century ‘Midlands Enlightenment’, who would meet on nights of the full moon as the Lunar Society to discuss progressive scientific and political matters, including the abolition of slavery.

The Lunar Bar will have a full moon overhead, while its Botanist’s Room, a private dining room accessed via a hidden bookcase door, is inspired by Erasmus Darwin, the doctor, nature poet and grandfather of Charles, a fellow ‘Lunatic’ and Wedgwood’s business partner. The Bubble Room, for drinks and snacks, is a tribute to a third member of the society, Joseph Priestley, who invented carbonated drinks and discovered oxygen (which he called “dephlogisticated air”).

The restaurant’s decor is inspired by Wedgwood’s designs and colour schemes, and food will be served on Wedgwood tableware, while dishes include ‘Staffordshire clay-baked chicken with treasured rice’. Toasted nori doughnuts and grilled langoustine with wasabi, also on the menu, reflect the chef’s interest in East Asian cuisine.

Niall said: “I’m incredibly passionate about Staffordshire, its rich heritage and amazing local produce. To have the opportunity to celebrate that whilst paying homage to the Potteries, all ten minutes from my hometown of Stoke-on-Trent, is a dream come true.”

Niall will remain in his post at Dorset, with the day-to-day running of Lunar in the hands of his long-time friend and Whatley Manor colleague Craig Lunn (left in photo) – destined by his name for the role at Lunar.

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