New Mill Road bar-based diner to lead on fish
A new fish-based diner, combined with a fresh fish outlet, is preparing to open on Mill Road in the spring.
The Fish Butchery is being set up at 2 Mill Road – Oxfam occupied the site previously – by Richard Stokes, former head chef at Hotel Felix, and Jay Scrimshaw, founder of pop-up retailer Guerilla Kitchen.
Work is now under way to convert the premises, which will feature a Continental-style bar from where patrons can watch their food being cooked.
“Fishmongers have vanished in this country, and we want to get fish back on the menu,” says Jay, “so we’ll have a fish counter as well as a diner.
“We’ll dry-age the fish, like some butchers do with some meat. It concentrates flavour.”
The Fish Butchery’s precise opening date is yet to be set.
“The builders started on January and, with all the Covid, there’s no rush for us to open,” says Jay. “We’ll start in March and do some pre-opening events before then to assess the regulations. There’s no garden, but potentially on-street tables – we’ve put in planning permission to have a couple of tables outside, so that should be fine.
“Inside, there’s a huge bar on the right hand side, two large windows with four covers at each window during the day. The bar seats 18 to 20 people at night and customers will be able to sit there while the chefs cook behind the bar.
“Richard and I haven’t finalised the menu but it will probably be small plates at lunch – with mussels on Tuesday, half-lobster on Friday – and a five-course menu to experiment with at night-time.”
Jay is Cambridge-raised, and moved to London in the 1990s, and headed up Bibdendum and Chez Bruce before he and his wife Taffeta moved out of the city to open their own establishment, The Pheasant, a thatched inn in Keyston.
The Pheasant made it to the final of cookery programme The F Word, with Gordon Ramsey proving a big fan. In 2012 Jay and Taffeta reframed their lifestyle choices. With young children and the constraints of running a fine dining establishment, they began Guerrilla Kitchen in 2014. The pop-up proved a huge hit in Cambridge and on the festival circuit – Guerrilla Kitchen recently launched its own range of Bao kit – but the lure of running an established premises was sparked by the connection with Richard Stokes.
“I’ve know Richard 20-odd years,” Jay explains, “from when he was running the Three Horseshoes in Madingley. He was at the University Arms with Tristan [head chef Tristan Welch].
“We both feel the same way, we wanted to do something family-friendly, we need to cut down on our meat consumption, so... fish.”
Jay is looking for two people to take on the day-to-day running of Guerilla Kitchen as a result of his new commitment.