“Quality of produce is everything,” Meet The Cousins Behind Tooting’s Hottest Restaurant

The first foray into the restaurant industry for cousins Mark Kimber and Harry Smith isn’t where you might think. For a restaurant offering small plates of seasonal British food gathered (as much as possible) from the local area and the wider UK, you’d expect a typical spot in Soho or the East-end instead of a “unit” with only two chefs, stools and benches replacing your usual tables, in a breezy, undercover market down in Tooting but nothing about these two is traditional. From the location to the fact they only average around eight options on their menu, we spoke to the unconventional pair about the highs and lows of their first business venture and why going local is so important to them.

Tell us more about you both

“We are Mark Kimber and Harry Smith, cousins and owners of Plot. We’ve both been into food from a young age and have worked within the industry for some time. Mark co-founded the London-centric website Food Edited, and Harry’s been on the trade side.”

What do you enjoy most about your job?

“There’s a fantastic community in Tooting, it’s great meeting all the locals on a day-to-day basis and to see people enjoying what we’re doing.”

What’s your secret ingredient or top tip in the kitchen?

“Quality of produce is everything, it’s so important to use seasonal ingredients.”

Why did you want to open a restaurant & what advice would you give to others wanting to do the same?

“A genuine love of food has always been at the heart of what we do and opening the restaurant with a focus on British produce was our ultimate goal. I would really encourage anyone who feels the same to pursue it, but be prepared to give it your all (and beyond).”

Tell us more about the menu and why you chose to do it the way you have?

“Our aim at Plot is to showcase the best of British. We have kept the menu short to reflect the produce that is in season at that point in time – we usually run 7 or 8 items, plus a couple of specials, switching the menu up weekly.”

Who are your suppliers and where did you find them?

“We try to use local suppliers as much as possible. Our fish is from Moxon’s in Clapham South, they offer the best quality produce in the area. We’re always on the lookout for exciting new producers; Wandsworth honey, truffle oil from Wiltshire, and incredible trout from Chalk Stream on the River Test are some recent discoveries.”

The drinks menu is as much of a local focus as the food, what made you choose the wines & beers on offer here?

“We have some lovely rosé from Hush Heath in Kent and sparkling wine from Nyetimber in West Sussex, it’s some of the best wine in the world. As for the beer, there are some amazing breweries right on our doorstep so it makes sense to work with them.”

You recently held an event with Nyetimber, is collaboration important to you & why?

“It’s great to hear the guys talk so passionately about English wine – we’re huge admirers of theirs. It’s also great fun to do something different to normal service, keeps things interesting. We got invited down to their vineyard in Sussex the other day, which was a cracking day out.”

What have you found difficult/surprising about opening your own business?

“No restaurant opening is a walk in the park and anyone who’s opened a restaurant will know about the stresses and teething problems, but once you’re past that it’s a real joy. We’ve been surprised at the sense of community within Tooting’s Broadway Market, everyone is really supportive and there are a load more restaurants opening up here – it’s turning into a great little food scene.”

What are your favourite restaurants/food spots in London?

“A weekend stroll through Maltby Street Market is the perfect way to whirl away the day, with ample food stalls and cracking hangover cures – courtesy of Little Bird Gin. If there’s an ‘R’ in the month, nothing beats a dozen oysters within the grand surroundings of Michelin House at Bibendum Oyster Bar.”

We had the pleasure of going down to Plot restaurant Tooting ourselves, so see what we thought.

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Maria Bell

Maria Bell is a photographer and editor from the Isle of Wight. Talk to her about food and/or photog...

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