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23 May 2024

Adam Handling MBE on his new, quintessentially British, pub

Adam Handling MBE on his new, quintessentially British, pub

HRC catches up with award-winning Scottish chef and restaurateur Adam Handling MBE to learn more about the upcoming opening of a new pub, The Tartan Fox, in Cornwall. 

Tell us about the new Tartan Fox pub, how would you describe your plans in a nutshell?

The Tartan Fox will be a stunning, quintessentially British countryside pub,  using locally sourced produce from in and around Cornwall, and homegrown ingredients from the pub’s grounds when it comes through next year. It's all about sustainable, local luxury.

Why have you chosen Cornwall for this opening?

I’ve always loved Cornwall so, when this opportunity came up, it was one I just couldn’t refuse. The pub is completely stunning, steeped in history, set in the Cornish countryside on an estate of so much land (30 acres). We already operate the Ugly Butterfly restaurant and bar in St Ives, so it’s an absolute dream to be able to have two venues in Cornwall.

We’re expanding the Adam Handling experience for Cornish residents and, for anyone further afield, you can fly into Newquay, visit us at The Tartan Fox in the countryside and then head over to Ugly Butterfly down by the coast. It’s the best of both worlds.

How does your approach to a pub menu differ to your approach to a restaurant menu?

You have to be able to adapt to every eating and drinking situation in a pub, from popping in for a quick drink and snack, to all-out celebrations, and the menu has to reflect this.  Prices have to be right to attract the regulars to come in often, but we need to be able to create a destination for tourists and visitors to want to seek out our food, so it’s a bit of a balancing act. 

With a restaurant, particularly like Ugly Butterfly or Frog by Adam Handling, the whole experience is more immersive, and the menu is designed to take guests on a journey with us. The food offering at The Tartan Pub will be similar to that of sister pub, The Loch & the Tyne, which has a Michelin Bib Gourmand and 3 AA rosettes but using local ingredients from in and around Cornwall. Guests can expect delicious dining options, ranging from more casual snacks and pub classics to signature Adam Handling dishes, with a touch of Scottish influence.

How do you approach putting together the drinks menu and bar selection?

Alongside a small list of sustainable cocktails and a selection of local beers, there will be an extensive wine list, showcasing wines from across the globe, as well as highlighting British excellence, covering the breadth of affordability to luxury. 

What do you think connects all Adam Handling Group pubs & restaurants?

Each location reflects our vision and approach to zero-waste, modern British food, underpinned by the philosophy of sustainable luxury.

How do you think attitudes to sustainability and food waste are changing in UK kitchens?

Every restaurant and pub should be embracing sustainability, if for no other reason than with costs the way they are, you have to protect your margins at every opportunity.  Things are changing but it’s gradual, and you have to keep looking for more ways to reduce food waste and operate as efficiently as possible. 

We consider training our kitchen and front of house team in sustainability to be as important as teaching them the skills of hospitality. For a growing number of guests, knowing that you operate sustainably is a big attraction, so it makes commercial sense for every pub and restaurant operator to do everything they can in this direction so that it becomes second nature.

What are your priorities when it comes to the design of a hospitality business? How will it look and feel front-of-house?

Comfort and a welcoming space is our first priority.  We do have common threads through all our locations such as great art on the walls but, primarily, the design has to complement the style and history of the location. The Tartan Fox is in an historic building, Grade II listed, originally constructed in the 1600s, and embodies the architectural style of its time, with features that reflect a blend of tradition and sophistication. 

We’re preserving and enhancing the historic features, and using earthy tones and natural materials for the decor which will utilise the building’s existing exposed brickwork and stone walls and combine them with sintered stone and wood, roaring fireplaces, wall-mounted lanterns and cosy snug areas. The Tartan Fox will seat 90 covers across two floors, which will include the bar, wine room, restaurant and two private dining rooms, as well as additional restaurant seating upstairs.

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