Maria and Scott Hunter to open sustainable Clapham pub as first Antidote Projects venue

26 October 2021 by
Maria and Scott Hunter to open sustainable Clapham pub as first Antidote Projects venue

The couple behind London's Noble Inns group of pubs and restaurants – including the Princess of Shoreditch, the Pig & Butcher Islington and Smokehouse restaurants – are opening a new pub in Clapham called the Pig's Head.

Maria and Scott Hunter sold their previous businesses in 2018 and moved to Copenhagen but have returned to the UK to open the pub under their new umbrella venture, Antidote Projects, with a second site due to open in Kent next year.

The Hunters have partnered on the Clapham venue with their former Pig & Butcher colleagues Michael Chan and Jack Ross, who will head up the kitchen and front of house respectively, when it opens on 8 November on the former Rectory pub site.

The Pig's Head will have a 60-cover bar and a 40-cover dining room with a strong focus on sustainability.

All meat will be butchered on site and the team will work with UK farmers that use regenerative methods. Daily-changing a la carte menus will include the likes of rock oyster ‘hot pot' with lamb sauce, crispy lamb and confit potato; homemade black pudding, crispy potato and broken egg; chicken leg with chicken fat fried cauliflower and bacon crisps; and crispy pig's head, pickled Aweside Farm rainbow radish and creamed leeks.

There will be sharing boards of Paddock Farm Scotch egg, crispy chicken skin, sweet potato chip butties, smoked turnip dip, bacon jam, crostini and dining room pickles. Pub classics like steak pie for two with Lyons Hill Farm beef suet top, beef dripping cabbage and mash; or 42-day aged sirloin from Ivy House Farm with smoked bone marrow, Marmite onions, dripping and chicken salt chips, will also be on the menu.

Around half of the menu will be dedicated to plant-based dishes such as ‘baked bean' terrine, tomato jam and piccalilli; coal-roasted squash, burnt orange, kale and pumpkin seed ‘ricotta'; ale-braised turnip gratin, cavolo nero, Young Buck blue and tarragon crumble; or celeriac schnitzel with seaweed, crispy caper dressing and pickled red cabbage.

As well as local craft beer, UK-made small batch spirit producers will be used for cocktails by the jug, such as 58Gin and Sapling Vodka. The wine list will include 21 varieties of English red, white, sparkling and rose from estates like Tillingham, Oxney and Ancre Hill.

The Hunters have scoured antiques fairs for furniture with every chair, cabinet and coaster up-cycled or reused. The venue will also use sustainable electricity and be cleaned with biodegradable chemicals. All employees will be paid London Living Wage or above and food waste will be composted on site, with compost available for guests, local residents and allotments to buy.

Maria told The Caterer: "This time round we've looked at everything from our tables and chairs, our wine suppliers and our consumable suppliers, to the people who are emptying our sanitary bins. We've asked them, ‘what are you doing in your business to have as little impact as possible?' And we've chosen to work with people who do that."

Scott added: "Hopefully we can prove to the industry that you can make a profit out of having a sustainable business and you can be fully staffed – because we are fully staffed. A lot of our team are with us because of the sustainable aspects of our business. And you don't have to have a small plates or fine dining restaurant to be sustainable. We're at the start of our journey and we've got a long way to go, but hopefully we've put the foundations down for what will hopefully be a very sustainable business."

The pair eventually hope to gain Carbon Trust and B Corp accreditation, and in the meantime will make use of the Carbon Free Dining Certification programme where diners will be able to pay to offset their meal.

The couple also purchased a site in High Weald last month which they intend to launch next year as the Open Ivy pub in a Grade II-listed building which had lain empty until recently.

They plan to use the 3.5-acre site to grow organic vegetables to supply both pubs, as well as open another 100-cover pub and a zero-waste shop. The venture is being financed by Max Richards, who was previously the couple's business partner for Noble Inns.

"We spent a couple of years assessing what we wanted from life and what we decided was that we wanted to run really lovely hospitality venues and work with people that we really care about, admire and like," added Scott.

"All of our businesses going forward will be partnerships – we're not going to build another group again, we're not going to have a central head office, we're going to go into business with people that we love working with."

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