“It is a restaurant, but it’s very much our version of a restaurant,” says Ryan Chetiyawardana, speaking about his latest and most ambitious project so far in collaboration with chef Doug McMaster.
Cub is a restaurant unlike any you will ever eat at it, disguised in the skin and flesh of every other restaurant in town. There will be a kitchen, chefs, tables and chairs. There will be food and there will be booze – but not as you know it. Instead Cub will blur the lines of bartenders and chefs and push sustainability into new realms.
Because eat and drink like you give a fuck was always meant to be more than just a slogan.
When team Lyan closed their beloved first bar White Lyan earlier this year there was, of course, a ton of speculation about what would come next. Only four years into a 20 year lease on the site, and with their second bar Dandelyan on the South Bank raking in more awards than Adele at the Grammys, this was never going to be the last we heard from them. Then the basement was converted in Super Lyan, a classic cocktail den that gave drinks a serious, and often delicious, twist. Upstairs, however, stayed firmly boarded up. Until now.
“It’s a completely different space,” says Ryan. “Obviously it’s the same room. But nothing is the same. It’s literally been burnt to the ground and built back up. It feels like the right legacy for what White Lyan stood for and I really do see it as an evolution.”
What White Lyan stood for precisely was opening up a conversation about the ingredients that went into cocktails, the sustainability, or lack thereof, in the drinks industry and the new ground that could be broken with a different approach. White Lyan pushed open new doors, started new conversations and also managed to press upon a few sensitive buttons along the way. Safe and people-pleasing were never part of team Lyan’s vocabulary.
According to Ryan, Cub is now in exactly the same position, ready to question, inquire and push forward. “It is a different conversation and a different dialogue but I think it is discussing things in the same way.”
Bringing much of Cub’s food side to life is Doug, and for those that haven’t heard of him before he’s kind of a big deal in both the food and sustainability worlds. This is the chef who spent years learning every intricate part of food production, from milling flour to churning butter, before opening up the much-lauded Silo in Brighton to challenge exactly how food is made. And if Silo’s dishes are anything to go by, Cub’s menu is set to get our taste buds salivating – for all the right reasons.
“Silo and Cub are the two ends of the same line,” explains Doug. “One is the focus on the process, going really deep into all those pockets of production and weaving them together. What’s come out of that is a clear vision for me that food is beautiful and that is now what is manifesting within Cub, a focus on the product itself.”
Working side-by-side Ryan and Doug are hoping Cub will help to smash down the artificial boundary between the food and drinks world, sharing more than just an ethos but also techniques, ingredients and creative inspirations. Which is why the tasting menu at Cub (priced at £45) will treat liquids and solids with the same amount of passion.
“The basic premise of Cub is to bring people together with good food and drink,” says Ryan. “That is ultimately what it stands for, because even if people don’t want to delve into all the details they’ll hopefully come away saying ‘I know this is ostensibly about trying to do good but it was delicious and I had a good time.’”
Those details include the way Cub will aim to change the way we think about, and also use food and drink. Far from being cheap, throw-away, an every day endless tab, dining here will push a new form of sustainable consumption, going far beyond locality and seasonality. They’re even optimistic that Cub diners will help chew their way through invasive species such as moon jellyfish which are currently taking over the north sea.
If you’re curious, Doug says the jellyfish don’t actually have much flavour, but then neither does a potato. The taste is all down to the kitchen and the chef.
What can we look forward to, beyond invading moon jellyfish? Nothing too much is being revealed before the launch but both Ryan and Doug have a sneaking suspicion that their broccoli dish is going to be the runaway success. “We’re fascinated with choice ingredients, choice being the major leap towards a very interesting part of sustainability that doesn’t get enough of attention,” says Doug. “Not just choosing and using less, but the extremity of that in using things which are more than abundant, they are actually too much in abundance.”
So why should you go to Cub?
Well we can tell you why we’re going to Cub; because the food is going to be fantastic; because £45 is incredible value for a tasting menu designed and executed by two people at the top of their industries; because it’s a new approach to food we’ve been eating our whole life, and that’s exciting; and finally because we want to eat and drink like we care. Because we do. Don’t you too?