Unlicensed but legal.


After the Great Fire of London in 1666, survivors naturally had the fear of fire and kitchens fell out of fashion. (I distinctly remember an estate agent trying to tell me “No one cooks anymore”). So the domestic kitchen was out, and the communal kitchen was in. Londoners went a shopping on Poultry, Bread Street and Fish Lane in the city and congregated in these communal kitchens where (I don’t know about the health bit) safety ruled ok. Chefs would cook up the purchases and everyone left in one piece.

Whenever I go round the big markets, a la Borough, I always think there could be a market for an anti-restaurant. Just a chef with condiments and facilities. You bring the goods along and they’ll cook it up on spec. Every time we go to Borough and buy stuff we always end up in the pub and wonder why we even bothered with the intermediate shopping bit.

Anyway, it seems someone has beat me to it, albeit in the bar sphere. BYOC in Covent Garden has opened. The only legal bar in London that is booked up three months in advance that’s operating without a license and has no stock. They actively encourage you to blow the dust off the spirits that are dwelling in dark, bring them along and let them work their magic. Having heard about the scratchy jazz backdrop, I can imagine the aesthetic is the one that pervades that bit too aggressively in the cocktail scene (press tin ceilings etc etc), but it’s a cool idea nonetheless. Now I wonder what they can do with a 1982 Creme de Cassis…

BYOC, 28 Bedfordbury Street, WC2 

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