What has been enjoyable about starting the restaurant and what have you found difficult?
I get asked this a lot. For me the community aspect of it is at the heart of Dirty Apron. We designed the kitchen to be very open so we can talk to customers and get to know our neighbours. The hardest thing about the cafe is the size of the back of house area.
Sometimes there are four of us making food, coffees & cocktails, washing dishes and taking payments, all standing in an area approximately the size of 2 tea towels. It’s lucky we’re a close team.
How about your customers, what kinds of people are loving Dirty Apron? Are they mostly locals or has anyone come from further afield?
We have a very solid base of regular customers who live and work in the area. Local businesses, students, offices and families all pop by for lunch. In the evenings we get a lot of couples, what with it being one of the most romantic venues in South East London - according to me!
I would totally bring a date to Dirty Apron - the brickwork, candlelit tables, rich history, exceptionally good & reasonably priced wine.
What was your inspiration around the fit-out of the arch space and how is it having a restaurant in such a unique space?
The fit out of the arch is 50% a collaboration of the Dirty Apron teams’ ideas and styles and 50% trying to control the problem of our lack of storage space - i.e our bench seating doubling as cupboard space. It’s not unusual for me to ask a customer to shuffle along the bench because they’re sitting on my nuts.
Can you tell us about your Supper Club nights?
Themed nights are really what we were built on as we started of as a Supper Club six years ago. They are even more important now we’re in a permanent space. We’re a bit of a restless bunch, so like having different projects to work on.
Creating the menu, music, decor and entertainment of a themed evening is creatively fulfilling and challenging for us, and it’s great to offer our regulars something a bit different every few weeks.
Our Swedish Summer Crayfish & Schnapps party has been the most popular evening to date - there’s already talk of next year’s party having one long table right down the middle of the Market Yard!
We’ll bring the Crayfish and Schnapps, you bring a paper hat and a Swedish folk song you've printed off the internet an hour before and tried to learn frenetically (good luck)!
Have you always been in the food world?
I used to work in sport, nutrition and community health, organising physical activity programmes for local authorities. I still have a strong interest in community health and wellbeing. Hopefully we can do more community projects as we move into our second year in the arch.
How much do you follow trends in cooking and could you describe one or two that you find the most interesting at the moment?
We keep our menu fresh and exciting - the lunch specials change on a weekly basis according to seasonal veg and recent inspirations - but I wouldn’t say we follow specific food trends. It’s all about having a big well balanced plate of food. I also love a classic, especially as we move into the colder months - you can expect fish pies, hearty soups & stews to return to the lunch menu.
Where do you think Dirty Apron will be in say five years’ time?
In five years time it would be amazing if Dirty Apron was a well known name on the London café scene. A second restaurant would be pretty cool. In the long term, I’d like to open a seaside Dirty Apron, Bed & Breakfast where I can make people decadent breakfasts, lush about drinking Margaritas at lunch time, then gatecrash my guests dinner plans in the evening.
The breakfast Bubble & Squeak hash. Please tell us how to make that!! Any top tips for the perfect brunch?
I can’t tell you how to make the bubble and squeak hash, it’s our signature dish! It came about when I was thinking of what I could make that was as hearty as a fry up, but not as meat heavy. I think the perfect brunch has to have a good variety of flavours and textures. The crispy hash brown being a perfect nest for the those delicious soft yolks.
Is there a chef you admire the most?
Ainsley Harriot, because he’s a sex bomb.
Why did you choose Deptford?
It’s the heart of South East London. It felt like a great match.
What other place in Deptford would you recommend to visit?
Comando Temple Gym on Resolution Way. To go and get beasted by Rob and Mayyah. Tyre flippin’ good times!
Commando Temple, 14-16 Resolution Way, London, SE8 4NT.