Cycene: Theo Clench to open new Blue Mountain School restaurant, in place of Mãos

·3-min read
New plans: Christie and James Brown, left, are now working with Theo Clench  (Press handout)
New plans: Christie and James Brown, left, are now working with Theo Clench (Press handout)

The Blue Mountain School, an east London shop and cultural space, has announced it will launch a new restaurant in October.

Named Cycene, an old English word for kitchen, the restaurant will be headed by chef Theo Clench. Clench is perhaps best known for the stint at Portland, though last year he joined Akoko, the popular west African restaurant, as executive chef.

Cycene is the replacement for Mãos, which closed in April of this year. Mãos had opened under the celebrated Nuno Mendes in 2018, but left in 2020 in what are understood to be unhappy circumstances. Mendes was replaced as executive chef by Edoardo Pellicano, who ran it until its closure. Interestingly, where Mãos took over a single floor, Cycene stretches over two.

James and Christie Brown, who run the School, say the new restaurant will “emulate the feeling of dinner in a private home”, while Clench will offer a 10-course menu that will champion seafood, will focus on cooking seasonally, and will draw on Clench’s time spent in both eastern Asia and Australasia. Snacks will include the likes of Devon crab with white kombu on a green tartlet, with mains including the likes of mackerel with plum, shisho and dashi, as well as slow cooked turbot with sake, caviar and what they’re calling “lettuce sauce”.

Clench is also said to be keen on making more of bread, and hence will have an entire course dedicated to the stuff, with a trio of butters offered.

Having considerably expanded the kitchen — it’s said to be twice its previous size — the restaurant will now age its own meat and fish on site in specialised fridges, while the space is big enough itself that guests will eat their second course behind the pass, where chefs plate up food.

There will also be cocktails served in the downstairs bar — the likes of a fig Negroni and a riff on an Old Fashioned dubbed a Burnt Old English — and a wine list which will call heavily on bottles from South Africa, and will include unusual and rare finds.

James Brown told the Standard he had hoped Cycene would shed new light on the tasting menu experience, saying: “Cycene is an incredibly exciting opening for us, the expanded restaurant within Blue Mountain School will enable us to evolve and push the boundaries of what a tasting menu experience can offer, an alternative to what can often feel somewhat formulaic, even mundane.

“Our expectations of what going out for a meal looks like has to progress; it can and should offer so much more than what exists in the current landscape.”

Brown added that while “Mãos was neither built for longevity, nor was it intended to reach the heights it did”, he was hopeful that the new venture would steer the course: “[It] is designed with one eye on the future. Blue Mountain School will always continue to evolve, Cycene is here for the long term and with Theo at our side, London is only the beginning of our culinary plans.”

Blue Mountain School calls itself “an environment dedicated to nurturing engagements and interactions between diverse practices”. It sells ceramics, clothes and furniture.

Cycene will open in October, but bookings will be taken from Wednesday August 10 at bluemountain.school/cycene, but those who subscribe on the page will be given a link via email to book 24 hours in advance.

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