|Cartoons, Kids and a Touch of Jazz|
Penny Flood talkes to Marco Pierre White about getting the recipe right for Frankie’s
“We’ve got it right,” says Marco Pierre White, celebrity chef and joint owner of Frankie’s. “I believe we made mistakes when we first opened, but we’re reading the script right now, listening to customers and giving people what they want – a good night out, with good food, good entertainment and great service at a good price point”.
Marco opened The Cartoon Room, an intimate New York style piano bar at the beginning of the year. It’s New York style without Big Apple prices - for just £25 you can chill out to cool music while enjoying a three course set meal or you can order from the a la carte menu.
It’s called the Cartoon Room in honour of Marco’s great friend the illustrator David Hughes whose drawings decorate the walls. David’s work appears regularly in The New Yorker and Marco considers him to be the best cartoonist in the world.
David’s next job for Marco are portraits of Marco and his partner Frankie Dettori for the covers of the menus but Marco says he has no idea what they will look like.
“David is an artist and artists are like musicians, you can tell them what you want, but they interpret it their own way”. When I suggest that customers may take the menus home with them because they are original works of art, he says he’d be pleased because it would mean they liked them.
The musicians who play at the Cartoon Bar are all international performers. Pianist Trevor Watkiss and his brother Cleveland, who also sings, are well-known on the trans-Atlantic jazz circuit, and gigs include Ronnie Scott’s and Pizza Express, Deane Street in London and Blue Note and Sweet Basil in New York. Saxophonist, Alan Barnes is also well known on both sides of the Atlantic and showed he’s really made his mark in the UK by winning the ‘The Best Instrumentalist BBC Jazz Award’.
But it not just in the Cartoon Bar where Marco’s made changes, he’s very proud that his restaurant is family friendly with a children’s menu for £8.50. “When mums feel too tired to cook for the kids at the end of the day, I want them to know the can afford to bring the kids to Frankie’s and they’ll be fed well.
The quality of his food is import to Marco and he insists that although he has lowered the prices, he hasn’t cut any corners. His steak still comes from his regular Scottish supplier, Donald Russell, where it is hung for 28 days. And then he makes sure it is cooked properly. He says he prefers to have lower margins than lower quality. “Too many chefs don’t understand steak, they think it’s OK to buy cheap meat and it’s not”
He also wants his restaurant and bar to be a friendly place, where customers get to know the staff - he’s very proud of his staff - because, as he says, if customers are friendly with the staff it means they are becoming Frankie’s regulars and that’s what they want.
The first thing you see of Frankie’s is the terrace with lots of trees and plants for atmospheric alfresco wining and dining. He oversaw the redevelopment of that too, paying the same attention to detail on the outside as on the inside.
Marco is proud of Frankie’s because he’s worked hard to give the people of Chiswick something they can enjoy at a price they can afford.
March 10, 2008