Following his recent appointment as Chef Director at The Strand Dining Rooms on Trafalgar Square, Morden and Lea will be Mark Sargeant’s next project and the first time he has worked on the launch of a new restaurant in Central London. His career spans more than 20 years, including 13 years working alongside Gordon Ramsay, seven of these as head chef at Claridge’s, as well as two successful solo restaurants Rocksalt and The Smokehouse in his home county of Kent. The food and vibe at Morden and Lea will draw inspiration from Sargeant’s wealth of restaurant experience, as well as the diversity in cultures that can be found in Soho and its surrounding areas. The restaurant’s location also inspired its name, which is a nod to historic London cartographers Robert Morden and Philip Lea, who were the first to map out the area now known as Soho, back in the 17th century.
Morden and Lea will be split across two floors, with downstairs offering a casual and relaxed, no reservations atmosphere. The 62-cover space will serve a varied menu of individual savouries, charcuterie and snacks, from 11am until late, Monday to Saturday, with a brunch menu available on Sunday. Sargeant will use the best of British ingredients to create dishes such as ‘Mackerel with red onion, capers and parsley’, ‘Salt-baked celeriac with parsley pesto’ and the sure fire favourite,‘Seafood sausage roll’. There will also be a selection of open tartines on offer, each served on a choice of fresh bread with creative toppings such as ‘Broad bean, pea and pecorino’, ‘Garlic purée, roast onion and lardo‘ and the classic ‘Pissaladiere’ (prices from £4.50 to £15, on the downstairs menu). The food will be enjoyed with a carefully selected list of Old World and European wines, and a concise and seasonally-changing cocktail menu, as well as a selection of craft beers and Redchurch Pale Ale on tap. Downstairs at Morden and Lea will provide the perfect place for a relaxed catch-up with friends, a drink and quick bite after work, or pre or post theatre meal. Designed by March and White, the restaurant interiors will offer a friendly, sociable and comfortable environment any time of the day or evening, reflecting the vibrancy and eclectic nature of its Soho locale.
Upstairs at Morden and Lea will have a more refined air, with an affordable fixed priced brasserie-style dinner menu (£35 per person), and set lunch menu, created by Sargeant and Morden and Lea head chef Daniel Mertl (Chez Bruce, The Savoy, La Gavroche). The dinner menu will deliver stylish contemporary dishes using the best of local and Great British produce. Mains will include ‘Roast Goosnargh duck with garlic potatoes, roast peach, broccoli, almonds and chilli’, ‘Pan-fried skate wing, cauliflower, bacon and caper polonaise and hispi cabbage’ and ‘Grilled Cornish mullet with spelt, mussels and bok choy’, and desserts such as ‘Set milk chocolate with hazelnuts, milk sorbet and coffee sherbet’, ‘Pressed Oakchurch Farm strawberries, brillat savarin chantilly and pistachio crumble’ and ‘Gypsy tart’. The interior of the 86-cover restaurant is deceptively bright and airy for what appears to be a typically narrow Soho building from the outside, with natural light flooding in from a glass atrium and guests able to dine whilst looking out onto Soho and neighbouring China Town. An intimate cocktail bar for one or two pre-prandials, leather-clad booths and a private dining room for up to eight people, ensures upstairs at Morden and Lea will be the ideal spot for a leisurely lunch or a sit-down dinner with friends, family or work colleagues.
Mark Sargeant commented ahead of the launch: “I am extremely excited to be working with the team at Morden and Lea on the launch my first official central London restaurant. Having been involved with the project from the outset, it’s great to see it finally coming together and I can’t wait to open the doors to the public in June. Soho is the perfect location and hope that the dual-offering of a brasserie-style menu served in the upstairs restaurant and a more-relaxed casual sharing menu served downstairs, will appeal to both London foodies and visitors to the capital alike.”
Morden and Lea opens this month on Wardour Street, Soho, for lunch and dinner Monday – Saturday, and brunch on Sundays.