Food & Drink

Gezellig is the no pomp, high-end restaurant you’ve been waiting for

Holborn's latest opening does great food without the silver service

Think of fine dining and I bet you imagine white tablecloths, stuffy waiters and fiddly little dishes. Gezellig is anything but. ‘At the end of the day, good food is good food,’ explains Graham Long, Gezellig’s head chef, and co-founder with sommeliers Wieteke Teppema and James Comyn, and restaurateur Rebecca Mascarenhas. From the crispy suckling pig to share to chicken wings at the bar, his menu is about letting the food speak for itself, no fuss and frills.

Gezellig's James Comyn, Wieteke Teppema and Graham Long

‘The food is good, honest cooking made with the best produce possible, and not a lot done to it,’ says Long, who trained under Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s. ‘There’s technique and attention to detail, but in essence, it’s not a restaurant where, when you get your main course, we spend five minutes explaining it. No bullshit.’

This unshowy attitude underpins the whole ethos of Gezellig, which translates from the Dutch as ‘an atmosphere which allows good times to happen.’ It was an idea Long came up with around a kitchen table with Teppema and Comyn three years ago.

‘The three of us have trod the boards of London’s fine dining restaurants for, between us, about 35 years,’ he says. ‘There’s a lot of pomp and ceremony. As we’ve got older we’ve realised giving people a good time is more important.’

Gezellig

So, come lunchtime, Long serves a £25 two-course set menu with dishes like baked sea trout with cucumber, green tomatoes and nocellara olives. And if you only have time for a quick bite and a glass of wine, then there’s the bar menu with toasties and ‘bitterballen’, Long’s take on a Dutch snack, elevated to even higher levels of indulgence with suckling pig and sweet mustard.

He’s wary of the kind of publicity that sees new restaurants soar, before they close a few months later. ‘We’d like to become a destination restaurant, but that doesn’t change the fact we’re here to bring people joy and pleasure,’ he says. ‘There’s no better barometer for success than people coming back. I want to be a restaurant everyone talks about, but first and foremost, I want happy customers and full tables.’

Bring Gezellig to your lunchbox

Roasted heritage carrots, goats’ curd, pine nuts and spinach salad

Ingredients: 4 small heritage carrots, 75ml olive oil, 50g pine nuts, 150g baby spinach, 1 large grated carrot, lemon
juice, 50g fresh goats’ curd

Method: Peel, wash and toss the carrots in a roasting tray with half the oil and some salt. Roast at 160ºC for 20 mins till lightly caramelised. Toast the pine nuts in the remaining oil; leave to cool and then mix with the spinach and grated carrot. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Blob the curd onto the warm carrots, and pile the salad on top.

Holborn Hall, 193-197 High Holborn, London WC1V 7BD, gezellig.co.uk