Interview with Jonathan Segal and Barry Vera – transcript

Jonathan SegalCEO The One Group: I chose the Hippodrome because I’m obsessed with anything unusual – exciting. And the Hippodrome is the most iconic entertainment facility in Central London by far.

And when Simon Thomas told us his vision was to create a Vegas-style Casino here in the centre of London, it was a natural opportunity for us to be involved.

The dining experience at The Hippodrome is different from traditional type restaurants because the experience here is less about a specific meal and far more about the overall evening or the entertainment.

This is an entertainment facility. We have multiple bars. We have a cabaret room. We have these private lounge areas. And there’s, of course, the main Heliot restaurant.

As a result of that your experience extends beyond the meal and into what is going on within the building. The One Group has a really diverse portfolio of restaurants.

But what is consistent throughout are certain traits that we build within our restaurants.

For example. They’re all built around bars. Most people will put their bars in the front or on the side in a restaurant.

We actually put our bars in the centre of the restaurant and we build the restaurant around. The reason being because all the energy comes from the bar.

As we build vibe and energy-driven restaurants it means it’s an integral part of our operation.

Barry VeraExecutive Chef at The One Group: What is the Hippodrome about? It’s about a night out. About excitement.

The Tuna Tataki, one of my personal favourites, is very light in its flavour. it’s very subtle. You’ve got the seared tuna around the outside. And this Asian apple and cucumber salad underneath.

Another one we have across all the One Group restaurants is ‘Mac and cheese’. It’s become more and more popular here in london. We changed it and developed it with a poached pheasant egg and then shaved black truffles over the top. And then this idea came about to call it the Millionaire’s Mac and Cheese because it’s a Casino.

We developed a beetroot salad with a creamed goat’s cheese. I’m a big fan of beetroot. I think it’s a vegetable that’s seriously underplayed. It’s beautiful with just a standard ‘house’ mustard dressing. Another dish which is great for us is the maple-cured pork belly. It’s twice cooked. So we salt-cure it. Then we cook it slowly in goose fat. And then we cook it in a water bath. Then we press it overnight. And we do it with this stunning candied ginger and apple purée, Calvados sauce and then these beautiful pork crackling on the end of it, with just a few micro herbs to finish it.

It’s a great dish and everybody loves pork belly.

We spent a lot of time working on these desserts to make sure that the finish was kind of that magic moment for you. It’s the last dish you eat before you leave the restaurant. And it’s one of your lasting memories before you go.

Jonathan Segal: It’s actually quite a broad market that we cater to.

It’s kind of an aspirational market. But I think the most important thing of the success of our company is predicated on the fact that an evening in our venues is a complete experience.

In an economic recession people still want to go out. But what they’ll do is they’ll cut down the number of places they go to in a misguided belief that that actually results in spending less money. Within our venues it’s a progression. So you can actually go for a drink. You stay for dinner. And then gradually as the evening progresses the lights come down a bit, the music gets a little bit louder.

There are DJs in all of our restaurants.

Basically the place somebody arrives is not the place they leave from. And I always used to joke about it, we should put a sign outside every door that says, ‘if you’re depressed, go home’.

Because we only want happy people here.

Just by creating areas and situations where people can forget the troubles of the city, of their work and they could just go with a great social environment, with a great bar scene, great food, great service and a great environment.


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