Catriona Thomson talks to executive chef Phil Lynch about his new South American flavoured set sharing menu for our Under the grill feature and quick-fire Q & A.

As 83 Hanover Street launches its restaurant experience at home, we speak to executive chef Phil about creating dishes imbued with the upbeat vibrancy of this South American restaurant.

Phil has been tasked with creating a weekly-changing six dish sharing menu, stuffed full of colourful bold dishes which are then assembled at home by you, for the modest price, £35 for two.

Whilst his brother Mike Lynch – the newly-appointed general manager of sister venue 99 Hanover Street – has developed a range of cocktails you can add to your order.

As a bonus, every order comes with a suggested Spotify playlist to cook, eat – and dance to! You simply need to place a mid-week order for collection from the restaurant on Fridays and Saturdays.

 

As an experienced chef, Phil has been around the block a few times but with a wealth of knowledge which he brings to the kitchen.

Over a long career, he has had the pleasure of working with a few notable chefs including; Martin Wishart when he was at The Balmoral Hotel, followed by Jeff Bland, then both Tony Singh over in Dublin and Roy Brett at Ondine.

Phil admits being a chef wasn’t his first career choice, he said “I’d always fancied myself as an architect, now instead of designing structures I’m creating flavours and hopefully memories for the people that try them.”

International flavour

Chilean born owner, Juan José Castillo Castro decided to open up 83 Hanover Street in 2017, along with his partner Vanessa Alfano.

The place quickly gained the praise of respected food critics and was shortlisted for ‘Best Newcomer 2019’ at the GQ Awards.

Phil tells us; “I was introduced to him, three years ago when he took his first steps into the Edinburgh food scene.

“We hit it off pretty much from the bat and he sold me on his idea of opening a particular style of dining and drinking out.

“Unfortunately, it wasn’t the right time, but we kept in touch. So, here I am today at the start of what we hope will be both a fruitful relationship and business.

“I hope to bring my experience to the group and deliver on the bold South American flavours that Juan and his partner Vanessa are bringing to the people of Edinburgh.

“We’re using the best of our natural larder here in Scotland with the addition of South American flavours.”

So what should diners expect?

Phil also adds, “don’t expect to see anything with too much tradition stamped on it. We want to take you on a journey that is reminiscent of these flavours, it allows us to develop our own brand and identity without restriction.”

While owner Juan said: “Vanessa and I miss welcoming people to the restaurant and creating an exciting experience for them.

But we realised we could send 83 to people’s homes and put a smile on their faces. A few friends tested the menus at home last week and the response was fantastic.

It’s the closest thing we can do to opening the restaurant, and we want people to really make a night of it.”

Under the grill Q&A

83 Hanover Street

Describe your cooking style? and why are you passionate about it? Traditional, French-inspired fusion etc.

“I would describe my cooking style as clean and simple. I use flavours that complement each other with a few curve balls thrown in. I was taught classic French techniques throughout my career, supplemented by what I’ve learnt from my peers.

“Why I love cooking simply comes down to the fact that I enjoy seeing the enjoyment that my food brings to others. That’s enough satisfaction for any cook. ”

What was your first job in the industry? Plus where were you before?

“It’s funny you ask this as my father was steeped in hospitality and worked many a bar as a cocktail barman and manager back in the day.

“It’s like a scene out of the Golden Girls when he starts reminiscing about “the good old days” and “that’s not how we did it back then” I can see and hear it now.

“My first foray into real cooking came via through my father. It came in the form of a late, great Edinburgh institution Atrium, which was the flagship restaurant of Andrew Radford (who now runs Timberyard with his family).

“I worked there under the tutelage of a chef by the name of Alan Mathison. It was him that gave me the first real skills to carry on into my next job and gave me the exposure to work with some of the best chefs in Edinburgh.

“He put me in touch with Martin Wishart, who duly gave me an opportunity to work with his brigade in Hadrian’s at The Balmoral Hotel.

“But it was short-lived as he was making plans to strike out on his own. It was enjoyable but hard, and I found him to be a man with a lot of time for the youth in his brigade, and very humble.

“I didn’t follow him out the door, but instead stayed on under the guidance of the executive chef Jeff Bland and earned my stripes.

“My next move probably made me the chef I am today. It was the Marque restaurant, run by Atrium alumni Lara Massie, John Rutter and Glynn Stevens and they remain family to this day.

 

“In this kitchen, they really encouraged a sense of freedom in every chef’s cooking. For me, they were perhaps ahead of the curve at the time, whereas nowadays we see ever-changing menus and ever-evolving dishes.

“These guys had a daily-changing menu based around what was at its freshest. We’d be on the back of the vans picking out fresh veg, fish, etc and basing our menus around what we saw and smelled. It was a huge learning curve and one I carry with me to this day.

“Then I swerved around a bit learning from others guys like Tony Singh, and did a few years in Dublin (which are now a blur) before settling back in Edinburgh and spending a few years running Monteith’s, then the Bon Vivant and helping develop the brand and opening up several new businesses with them.

“Then came who I hold in high regard and consider a great friend: Roy Brett of Ondine. I thought I knew seafood but I really didn’t and I swear that any chef worth his salt that, if you can cook in this man’s kitchen, then the world truly is your oyster. I’d work for this guy at the drop of a hat.”

 

Favourite spice? And what dish/recipe would you suggest using it in? 

“Ginger is definitely up there as one of my favourite spices, but at the minute I can’t get past the shrimp salt. It’s a blend of spices and seasoning that I currently put on our house chips.”

Are you sweet or sour? So is it all peace and harmony in your kitchen or do the pots and pans fly? 

“I’m definitely sour with a smattering of sweet sprinkled on top I wouldn’t say I fly off the handle any more, I’ve definitely mellowed over the years.

“There are better ways to get maximum effort and coax talent, it’s more about managing personalities and having the right blend of them in the brigade to keep my fuse dimmed.”

What little things annoy you?

“Tardiness is a definite peeve, I can’t abide it. It shows a lack of respect to your colleagues and I’ve heard every excuse known to man. So it’s not something I let slide, you’re definitely in for a tough day if you are late.”

What is popular in your kitchen right now? 

“Popular in my kitchen right now is a great soundtrack to the day, with no customers in the restaurant just now I can play whatever the hell I want. (oh, and the shrimp salt).”

Tea or Coffee? Is it Darjeeling darling or bitter Colombian? What’s your brew and how you like to drink it? Camomile, Milky brew or builders elaborate, please?

“Coffee, flat white or black, but it has to be fully loaded, I’m not into this oat milk or soy milk”

Everyone has one at least one guilty food pleasure, so what do you love but are too embarrassed to admit?

“My guilty pleasure is whatever I decide to put in my mouth. If eating food is not a guilty pleasure then you’re not really enjoying it are you?”

Who is your favourite chef? Plus everyone has a food hero/ local supplier, who is yours and why?

“My favourite chef would have to be Fergus Henderson. The best meal I’ve ever had was at his place you could see his ethos ooze out of every crevice.

“As for food heroes, all the guys I’ve worked with and for a local supplier, I’d like to give a big shout out to Kenny Welch at Welch’s Fishmongers. That man is the foundation of that place and he sleeps less than any chef I know.”

Fantasy dinner party guests? and what would you cook for them?

“The late, great Anthony Bourdain and the other guests would be made up of friends and peers. I miss these guys the most during the lockdown, I’d get them round to cook and enjoy ourselves, into the wee hours of the morning.”

I don’t like…or I’d rather not eat……

“I wouldn’t hesitate to give anything I’ve not tried at least one go, but there are many things that I have tried that I wouldn’t put in my mouth again.”

The interior of 83 Hanover street Edinburgh

83 Hanover Street

83 Hanover St, Edinburgh 

EH2 1EE

(0131 225 4862)

About The Author

Catriona Thomson

Catriona picture edits The Scotsman magazine and Scotland On Sunday, aswell as reviewing restaurants for Scotland on Sunday and writing for Scotsman Food and Drink.

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