Covent Garden Journal Issue 09 Autumn 2010
Global Village /Olivier Trotel, The Globe
I’m from Normandy, a region well known for camembert, cream, mushrooms and seafood. We also do beautiful cider and I always bring some back from France. About 20 years ago I decided to go to the south of France. There was a lot more work for an apprentice chef down there than in Normandy. I wanted to go south, maybe make some more money and just see somewhere different.
So you headed off to the south of France.
No I didn’t. I called an agency there, but instead they sent me to Gravesend in Kent. Imagine! But it was a nice place called the Inn on the Lake, surrounded by beautiful lakes and forests. I didn’t last very long as I decided to come to London. I started at the Valbonne, a nightclub on Kingly Street. The club is named after a small town in the south of France—so I nearly got where I wanted to be.
Where else did you work?
I did a quick stint at Le Gavroche as a commis waiter, before moving to the Balzac on Wood Lane. It was full of people from the BBC, and I saw Lenny Henry, Dawn French, most of the guys on the news, and Brian May, who came there very late one night with his girlfriend from Eastenders. After that I worked in a number of Italian restaurants around Soho, as well as Chez Victor on Wardour Street, before spending a few months at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen. That was a lovely place to work, with everybody mucking in and helping each other out. I was briefly restaurant manager at The Groucho Club on Dean Street and then spent a few months as a Maitre d’ at the Savoy Grill with Marcus Wareing. I had a long time as restaurant manager at Home House on Portman Square, working alongside Brian Clivaz, who really made this place. Home House is a lovely place, nice rooms, and Madonna used to go there. Jamiroquai had a few fights there—always he had some problem. I was at Scott’s in Mayfair at the same time. I then moved to the Belvedere, Marco Pierre White’s place in Holland Park.
Your pub resembles an art gallery.
I bought the painting of Brigitte Bardot here in Covent Garden. I’ve actually got a Banksy on the wall out on the upstairs terrace—people often come here simply to photograph it. I like art.
Presumably the food here is rather good.
It is good. We go to the market every week for vegetables and to Smithfield Market twice a week for the meat. I used to just order it before, but sometimes the quality wasn’t that good, so now we go ourselves. I’ve got another place on Wardour Street, an Italian restaurant, on the site of Chez Victor, where I used to work. So now I have to go to the market a lot.
Any house specialities here at The Globe?
Yes, the rib eye, the lamb shank and the moules. The fish and chips is also very good. So far so good—no complaints.
Tell me about the beer
We’ve got Shepherd Neame and Fuller’s, two very good breweries. I may do something with another one, possibly Youngs. And the Guinness is good. There are no complaints about the beer.
As a Frenchman, are you a fan of traditional British pubs?
Yes I am, and not only traditional British pubs, but also British food, because I’ve eaten in Paris many times and it’s not always so good. A good roast beef, Yorkshire pudding and horseradish sauce, with a nice pint of beer—forget it—it’s beautiful. Or the pork with the crackling and many other things like that. British food is great. Many Europeans still think that here we don’t know how to eat or drink. It’s not true. However, at most supermarkets the choice is far too limited. With the meat counter it does depend where you go, but the fish counter, bloody hell, it’s so small. Being an island I don’t know how this can happen. But we’ve got fantastic restaurants over here, and the chefs don’t need to be French or Italian—some of the best chefs in the world are British.
You fly the Union Jack above the pub.
Have you ever been tempted to switch it to the French tricolour? No, of course not. Some people don’t like the flag, but I don’t see the problem. I have an Italian flag above my Wardour Street restaurant, Mon Plaisir on Monmouth Street has a French flag flying, while the hotel across the road from them has a British flag. Buckingham Palace has got one, so why shouldn’t I? And from next week, I think mine will be bigger than theirs, because we’ve ordered a bigger one.
Isn’t this building part of the site of the world’s first police station?
It was the home of the Bow Street Runners. The Magistrates’ Court next door has now closed, but two retired policemen asked me if I knew about the prison cell located down in the pub cellars. They told me to check the plans. Is it true, I don’t know? I asked the freeholders, but they didn’t seem to know anything about it.
So you haven’t come across it then.
No. I drilled a hole, but found nothing, maybe I was drilling in the wrong place. I don’t want to make too much mess. It might be down there.
If you found the cell, would you be tempted to lock up any unruly drinkers?
No, we’re not allowed to do that. It’s a pub—we get rid of them and that’s it.
You worked for the likes of Jamie Oliver, Marcus Wareing and Marco Pierre White. Who was the most frightening?
Nothing frightening happened at all. Not compared to France. The chefs there are worse. In France I got burnt a few times and people could get very violent. In London it’s far more gentle.
You took over The Globe in 2009. Have you already left your mark on the pub?
Yes, I think so, from the very first day. We cleaned up the place, changed the menu and got rid of any undesirables—there were a few underage drinkers. Now we attract a great crowd, and our regulars include local residents, office workers and singers from the Royal Opera House.
Do you have any unusual punters?
I’ve got a family who fly in from Sweden and America. Their grandmother killed herself here in 1905—she hung herself downstairs in a cellar. Every year they come, bringing photographs of her and the death certificate. We get a few famous faces in here. Lenny Henry again, he seems to follow me around. I saw him at Balzac, The Groucho Club, Home House and then he popped into The Globe not long ago. James May comes in here quite often for a pint of London Pride, plus I get a lot of comedians—though I can’t remember any of their names. Kieffer Sutherland came in here one Saturday when the pub was packed. He’d been in all the newspapers after having it proper during the week. He had a water or soft drink, asked for a cash machine and then left. People were like: “No, it’s not him”—“Yeah, it is.” And sometimes one of the opera singers from across the road will start singing in the pub. They put on a nice show just for the fun of it—they love their work.