Tatar steak, beef on a skewer, pork loin, Windsor chairs, English plaid chairs, ottomans with houndstooth ornaments and, finally, an eclectic collection of table lamps – at first glance, this puzzle is inevitably going to an English restaurant. But if you study the context and delve into the nuances, everything turns out to be somewhat more complicated.
Restaurateur Oliver Ridgeway does not forget about his British roots, and therefore, from the very beginning, he wanted to create a place where Californian modernism and English traditions would organically combine. Indeed, it seems that Camden Spit & Larder, which he opened in the capital of California, inherits the style of British bistros.
However, Brandon Kuhn, head of the VITAE Architecture studio, which developed the design, makes adjustments to this version:
– First of all, I created a project tied to the personality of Oliver himself, – says Brandon. – And his idea was to create something specifically British, but without any mention of that it has to do with the Old World.
Olvier Ridgway’s father once worked as a tailor. Therefore, the designer decided to use the design of old London haberdashery shops and sewing workshops as a model for Camden Spit & Larder.
The name, even if it sounds impeccably British, also refers not so much to Britain per se as to the owner’s family: Camden is the name of his son. It was given to the restaurant for future use. The British tradition of naming is turned into the past – there names are given in honor of ancestors – here, in California, it turned out to be overturned into the future.
The luxurious private room for special visitors is called The Larder – Englishism, meaning storage room. But to the American ear, the name sounds quite respectable. In general, the relationship with British culture is rather ironic here. That only there is a portrait of Queen Victoria, converted into a pig.
The restaurant is located on the ground floor of the Capitol Mall, a modern office building. One of the walls is completely glass, which creates an interesting contrast: outside is a modern American metropolis of the 21st century, inside it is like an English institution of the mid-20th century. The outdoor patio, which overlooks the shopping center, is divided into four independent spaces with 12 seats each.
“We wanted to create a truly unique combination of service, food and design. I have been a chef for over 20 years, and now this place can be called a showcase of my whole life, ” says Ridgway, and at the end of the phrase he adds an idiom that looks rather British, but after being clarified in the dictionary, it still turns out to be Americanism:
– I’m pretty stoked
Ridgway and Coon drew inspiration from the work of British fashion designers Fred Perry and Ben Sherman when choosing a color scheme for the interior. In the end, they settled on a combination of blue, red, beige, black and gold, spicing it all up with “costume” prints and rich textures.
According to Kuhn himself, the interior is “beautiful and rich, serious and ironic, in which historical details and influences are harmoniously combined with modern elements”.
Popularly nicknamed this bistro “Winston Churchill”, this means that the experiment was a success and the creative tandem of Ridgway & Coon managed to create an institution that would be serious and academic in terms of cuisine and at the same time ironically funny in its design.