In an important gastronomic milestone, the family-owned Dysart Restaurant has been awarded a Michelin Star. Editor Linda Duberley went to meet manager, Barny Taylor.
The Dysart is situated on the bend of the Petersham Road just after you leave Richmond and before you reach Ham. I make this point clearly because it is a discreet establishment, with a position between the Park and the meadows rolling down to the Thames, which has made it something of a hidden treasure for people seeking an unmatched culinary experience in our neck of the woods.
That is about to change. For Barny Taylor and his Chef, Irishman Kenneth Culhane, after several years of coming achingly close, have won a Michelin Star. It is one of only four restaurants in London to be awarded a star, and the only new one in the firmament. Taylor, is taking bookings for next March. Things will only get busier.
The Michelin Star comes after seven years of ‘hard graft’ according to Taylor whose family bought the old Dysart Arms in 2004. I remember it as a top quality gastro pub – real potato chips with great burgers. Their move towards fine dining was a business move as well as a culinary one. The Dysart’s location made footfall low for a gastro pub so it had to become a destination. Chef Kenneth Culhane arrived on the scene at exactly the right moment.
“I guess we both found each other,” says Taylor. “We are both quality driven. I want to run an establishment which has respect at its core. Kenneth is a level-headed person who inspires his team and works perfectly with front of house staff.”
Both are unusual men in that they were highly focused on other careers before entering the restaurant sector. Culhane was studying science and Taylor is a graduate of the Guildhall School of music, but both approach their work with a diligence and discipline which lies at the heart of how the Dysart won the star.
The Dysart uses local produce – much of which is produced by a local gardener on his own land and it owns the beehives. Its meat comes from the family owned butcher Walter Rose and Son in Wiltshire, diners can choose Ryeland Lamb, an English breed going back seven centuries, beef comes from rare breed long-horn cattle and pork from middle white rare breed pigs.
Their commitment to the provenance of their food is evidenced by a whole pig that is delivered once a year from a local woman who rears just two animals every year because she wants to teach her twin daughters about how meat should arrive on our dining tables. Some of it ends up in a Dysart signature dish, pork cooked five ways. The kitchen takes the head and trotters of the remaining animal because there is a policy of using the whole animal.
Taylor’s musical education comes in handy with the piano recitals, guitar performances and jazz evenings which are a feature of a restaurant which is determined to wrap its food in an experience.
It is a well-deserved award. As Taylor says, “This means that we have a recognised reputation which will allow us to start becoming an institution…. where real hospitality exists right down to the last details…where diners come at 6.30pm and remain here until gone 11.00pm because they want to remain.”