The building that houses London Street Brasserie dates back to the early 1700s. It was built as a toll-house for traffic entering Reading over Duke Street Bridge. The building was constructed on the banks of the Kennet on the parapets of Duke Street Bridge. By 1839 the building was listed in Varials Directory of Reading as a public house, owned by Evans & Francis, Kennet brewery. Beer was delivered by barge. Blacksmiths, Williams and Son occupied one half of the building. In fact the building was separated into retail outlets until 1999 when Paul Clerehugh acquired the property knocking both shops into one to form the London Street Brasserie.
Half the building remained licensed to retail beer until 1907 when it was re-licensed as a chemist to manufacture and wholesale pharmaceuticals. It remained a chemist until 1935. The other retailing units at the site were used for a multitude of businesses including a hairdressers, tobacconist, newsagents, confectioners, china doll dealer, photographic printers and publishers.
By the 1980s, the building had started to fall into a state or poor repair. However, it always had bags of character and remained one of Reading’s most architecturally interesting buildings. The last tenant to occupy the building was Rogers & Shergold who traded as newsagents. Mr and Mrs Shergold attended the opening party of London Street Brasserie in 2000 and were very enthusiastic about the sympathetic changes Paul Clerehugh had made to their shop and flat above in creating the London Street Brasserie.
London Street Brasserie is 10 Years Old
On 11th April 2010, London Street Brasserie celebrates their 10th anniversary. After opening the doors a decade ago, it quickly established itself as one of Britain’s favourite eateries, winning Michelin recognition and many awards including Restaurant of the Year.
31 tonnes of chips, 49 000 crème brulees, and a few famous faces, later Chef Patron Paul Clerehugh shares some of the decades favourite moments.
This summer, London Street Brasserie will welcome their millionth guest.
London Street Brasserie’s Millionth Diner
I’d fallen in love with the building that is now London Street Brasserie several years before I eventually managed to acquire it.
‘The Building’ – 2-4 London Street was originally the Toll House on Duke Street Bridge, built in 1750, you had to pay to get into Reading in those days.
Over the years, the building has been a pub, charity shop, butchers and hardware store. It’s last occupants before becoming Reading’s favourite eatery was Shergoulds Newsagents. I invited Mr & Mrs Shergould to our opening in April 2000.
We started works on the old building in 1998 – it was sinking into the river. Being grade II listed, we had to carefully take the building apart brick by brick, underpin the foundations with enormous steel girders then put the place back together again using the original materials.
We opened on 11th April 2000 – time has flown by – barely believable it’s our 10th birthday! At some point this summer we’ll serve our millionth guest. Their table will of course be on the house, in fact whoever is number 1,000,000 can eat gratis with me until I eventually hang up my apron/pop my clogs.
Drinking too much
Pre–London Street Brasserie, I had (and still do) own the Crooked Billet at Stoke Row. I’d like to think it’s my cooking that put the Crooked Billet on the map – but to my perpetual bemusement it would appear the Billet is still more famous for cooking Kate Winslet’s bangers and mash wedding reception in 1998. (I offered Kate a 10% discount for ‘second time around,’ she graciously declined the offer).
I started the Crooked Billet in 1989 – by around 1996 we had grown a team of staff, chefs and managers – who I couldn’t promote any further, give any more responsibility to or justify further salary increases, didn’t want to lose these people – so looked after another restaurant, to promote and keep my staff, that’s the reason LSB exists.
Besides by 1996, I’d cracked the Crooked Billet and needed some new stimulation. I was bored, drinking too much and in danger of turning into that stereotypical pub landlord – jag, sovereign ring, purple nose and golf clubs. You know the type.
Many of the original LSB staff are still with me, including General Manager, James Alcock. Mark Spiers was our chef in 2000 – who came from Gordon Ramsey Hospital Road, so really interesting for me to work with Mark (Ramsey was still very much cooking in 2000 so brilliant to work with one of his main people).
Veena Stannard is chef now, outstanding and Robert Spencer is my right-hand man, who oversees LSB and the Crooked Billet kitchens. Rob, a Michelin starred chef, previously head chef for John Burton-Race, also Gary Rhodes, as you’ll appreciate, has phenomenal experience and a revelation to work with.
Lots of wonderful people I’ve worked with have gone on to open or manage their own restaurants, which I find exciting and rewarding: Myalacarte, the Lamb, Golden Ball, Luscombes, LSQ2, Wellington Arms to name a few.
Katie Price and 49 000 Crème Brûlées
At some point this summer, we will serve our millionth guest. As you’ll appreciate we’ve cooked, peeled and chopped our way through a heck of a lot of food. 2600 sheep, 320,000 bottles of wine. 31 tons of chips. 90,000 hot chocolate fondants. 11,000 lobsters, 49,000 crème brulees. 8½ tons of squid. 62,500 individual goats cheese. 25,500 haddock. 55,000 free range chickens. 218,400 oysters and 24 tons of mashed potatoes.
Difficult to pigeonhole LSB’s food style – British/Mediterranean/comfort food. I’m trying to cook what Reading wants; problem with chefs is they tend to cook what they like rather than what people actually want to eat.
Despite our “comfort food” cooking, Michelin were quick to include us in their revered guide, we’ve enjoyed Michelin acclaim now for 8 years. People’s perception of Michelin restaurants is they’re expensive. LSB offers a daily changing 2 course menu for £15, 12.00am – 7.00pm, Monday to Sunday, which hopefully dispels the myth that not all Michelin restaurants are expensive. In February 2004, readers of Observer Food Monthly voted London Street Brasserie one of Britain’s “Best Cheap Eats” (Although I don’t personally think 3 courses off my a la carte is “cheap”, at circa £27).
Over the years, we’ve had some interesting famous faces through the door. Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber did Mothering Sunday with us, Katie Price, Dave Grohl, Borris Johnson, Paul & Jonathon Ross, Joanna Lumley, Keith Floyd, Robbie Williams, Melinda Messenger, Reading’s very own Kate Winslet, Sir John Madjeski and AWT.
This section is pure unadulterated showing off. Information for press and publications. Feel free to use any of these facts, figures or photos.
Over the decade, Paul Clerehugh and the LSB team have achieved some quite remarkable accolades, and we’ve listed our favourite top ten. However, the accolade the London Street Brasserie should be proudest of is serving one million customers.
11th April 2000 London Street Brasserie opens the doors.
2001 wins the prestigious Booker Award, Best British Restaurant. Booker also sponsors the famous literary awards.
2002 becomes Reading’s first Michelin restaurant – 2010 still enjoying Michelin acclaim.
2003, Stuart Tyler, one of the Brasserie’s chef de partie wins the Gordon Ramsey Young Chef of the Year Award.
2004, readers of the Observer Food Monthly vote LSB Britain’s “Best Cheap Eats” recognising the restaurant’s excellent £14.95 2 course menu.
2005. The Countess of Wessex gives Paul Clerehugh the Craft Guild Award. One of the culinary world’s top accolades. Previous recipients include Raymond Blanc, Pierre Koffman, Brian Turner and the Roux Brothers.
Paul Clerehugh co-hosts Food on Friday, a weekly light-hearted topical food show on BBC Radio Berkshire. It becomes an enormously popular show, still running today. Enjoy Sarah Walker and Paul’s witty banter 2.00pm – 3.00pm on 104.1, 95.4 and 94.6FM. DAB digital radio and online.
Paul makes his first appearance on the BBC Good Food Show, which he continues to appear on.
2006. Paul wins the “Food Hero” TV series, for work with School meals. He consults with Jamie Oliver for “Jamie’s Dinners”. London Street Brasserie appears at the first Henley Food Festival.
2007. In recognition of being Berkshire’s favourite restaurant, Anthony Worrel Thompson presents London Street Brasserie with the Pride of Reading Award.
2008. LSB recognised in every British Food Guide – from Egon Ronay to Michelin, Hardens to the Goof Food Guide. Paul presents the BBC television series “Mind Your Own Business”, helping ailing pubs, cafes and restaurants.
2009. Paul breaks the Tallest Yorkshire Pudding record, live on the Market Kitchen TV show. James Martin previously held the record with 12½cm, Paul managed 22cm! Tana Ramsey was in the studio with Paul, who joked “I don’t think Tana has ever seen 22cm before!”
2010. Chef of the Year Awards. Paul comes 2nd at the Restaurant Show, 2009 Earls Court; the event attracted some of the world’s supreme chefs and foodies including Michael Caines, Giorgio Locatelli and World No 1 supremo El Bulli chef, Ferran Adria.