Sally Abe’s genius shines at The Pem

Since opening in July this year, The Pem has garnered a lot of interest; it was only a month later they were named the ‘One To Watch’ at this year’s National Restaurant Awards. There are a number of factors why the brand-new signature restaurant at Conrad London St James is causing so much excitement. Firstly, they have a superb team led by the supremely talented, Chef Sally Abé. Secondly, the quality of the ingredients is second to none, which result in a sophisticated and considered menu built on the foundations of historic British cuisine. Take, for example, fallow deer from Mike Robinson’s

“We’ve put a lot of thought and care into each dish and I love every one of them,” says Sally. “We really hope people will want to try everything on there.” Sally, of course, is the former head chef at Mike Robinson’s, The Harwood Arms (London’s only Michelin-starred pub), which means The Pem has a gem at the helm. Sally celebrates flavours and ingredients that are familiar and much-loved by the nation, and then interprets them in her own way.

Sally has appointed the emerging talent of Laetizia Keating as the restaurant’s Head Chef, and Emma Underwood is the General Manager, meaning an all-female leading team. The restaurant name is tremendously apt in recognition of this, as it’s inspired by suffragette Emily Wilding Davison, whose family used the pet name ‘Pem’ for her, and celebrates generations of pioneering women leading from the front.

The Pem has been thoughtfully constructed with an art deco inspired design and a
spectacularly spacious main dining room seating 70; a private dining room (The Harben) can seat 24 guests.

The menu is a foodie’s dream. It’s intelligent, it’s seasonal and it’s meticulous in precision. The Knife and Fork Bacon starter with Scottish girolles, marjoram and sweet and sour cream is wondrously creative. Exquisite flavours and depth, I loved every mouthful. The Seared Orkney Scallops, too, are divine. They’re meaty and delicious, and when combined with Violina pumpkin, pumpkin seed praline, and clementine, it’s fantastic for the autumn.

Having mentioned the fallow deer earlier, game is a must when it comes to Sally’s menus. The fallow deer is served alongside roast red cabbage, pickled blackberries, and black figs. The sweetness of the berries and figs, with the pickled element, really is just genius. It compliments the deer meat brilliantly. The Sirloin and Rib of Cumbrian Beef with oyster, turnip, horseradish is another clever dish: amazingly cooked, really great textures, and full of flavour.

You must save room for dessert and if there’s only one you’re going to order for the table, let it be Sally’s favourite: Black Forest GateauIt’s wonderfully nostalgic and looks so pretty on the plate. With chocolate curls, English cherry and ripple ice cream – what’s not to love?

The wine list offers highly sought-after fine wines and eclectic wines from independent
producers. Treasures from the list include Hambledon ‘Classic Cuvée’ an exceptional
example of the quality and complexity now possible from English vines; Goisot Saint Bris – Côte d’Auxerre, a rule-bending biodynamic delight out of the Chablis end of the Bourgogne, and Cíu Cíu ‘Falero’ Oris Bianco DOP from an Organic and ethically conscious vineyard just off the Mediterranean.

This week, you can celebrate Thanksgiving at The Pem, where Chefs Sally Abé and Laetizia Keating have thoughtfully created a one-off, celebratory menu, using the best of British ingredients.

The menu celebrates flavours of the harvest, using seasonal ingredients to create a
comforting and elevated Thanksgiving meal in the Pem’s signature style. Laetizia’s time
living in San Francisco has helped shape their knowledge of American cuisine, gained while she was working in the kitchen of three-Michelin starred restaurant, Benu.

“I always love cooking for cultural holidays and it’s been so much fun to be able to create this Thanksgiving menu with Sally and bring a slice of the US to the UK. We’re using the very best of British ingredients and giving it our own signature twist, but we still want to keep the flavours authentic, and I think we’ve nailed it,” explains Laetizia.

Sally’s ‘Maple Roast Bronze Turkey’ is the star of the show, served with all the trimmings
including ‘Yams, thyme, brown butter, savoury marshmallow’, ‘Brussel sprouts, smoked
chestnuts, pork belly’, and ‘Duck fat hasselback potatoes.’ The dessert of ‘Pumpkin pie ice
cream’ is served with hazelnuts and shortbread and guests can also experience Sommelier James Shaw’s expertly curated wine pairing.

Thanksgiving at The Pem is available for lunch and dinner on Thursday 25th November.

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