It was an exceptionally wet day in August when I went to visit the Team at TASTI, the new bar and restaurant located on the corner of the Canada Water Square in Montreal House. I was greeted at the door by Isaac and Kelvin who then guided me through the cavernous space on the ground floor and down to their basement office. Kelvin introduced himself as the new Front of House Manager and we sat down to chat. “I only joined the team a month ago,” admitted Kelvin. “But it’s been a great experience. After more than twelve years in the UK restaurant industry, it was a pleasure to join the Team here and help to launch this new style of restaurant.”
“…Our fully trained bar tenders will be able to mix up for you a great range of tastes and temptations that will keep locals coming back for more!…
Kelvin came to the UK from Australia and started his UK career in a Sunderland Italian restaurant. When he moved to London, he joined the Gondola Group who ran the Pizza Express and Zizzi brands and so got to know how the corporate chains work. From there he went on to manage at the Taman Gang in Park Lane and the Ricker’s Restaurant Eight over Eight in Chelsea. Now he lives in Battersea which is an easy 25 min commute to Canada Water overground. In his new role, Kelvin is keen to be the point of contact for customers and wants to get to know the local scene. “Our aim is to create a place to hang out,” says Kelvin.
“…We want to offer them a classic spacious experience of dining surrounded by a range of textures and cladding….”
Modern pan-Asian cuisine
This is the first of the new TASTI branded restaurants and brings to Canada Water food from across South East Asia. With dishes reminiscent of Chinese, Malaysian, Japanese and Thai cuisines, TASTI offers a modern take on a ‘pan-Asian’ menu. “We pride ourselves on being a family-friendly restaurant, so we’ve a great kids menu,” commented Kelvin. “Whilst we have a Malaysian head chef with Singaporean experience, most of the staff don’t come from south-east Asia at all so we have been putting in the hours training them carefully to answer customer queries. They’ve come to understand the food, to be able to know how it tastes and the main ingredients; that way they can make authentic recommendations that match a customer’s taste.”
I asked why the restaurant had been in preparation for so long. “Ah,” said Ray who designed the cocktail menu, “we had to let our first firm of builders go and the second firm found many things they needed to do again or start again from scratch. It’s been frustrating having to change horses six months’ in but it’s been the only way to deliver the quality restaurant we all want.” The staff team have been working flat out to get everything ready and whilst they couldn’t give me an opening date yet, Kelvin hoped it would be by the end of September. “We are planning a soft launch – a sort of dress rehearsal – with some invitation-only evenings at first to test out our systems and iron out the wrinkles that come with any new venture. We can take up to 120 guests at a time so it’s a big and complex operation to get right. Then about two weeks later, we’ll hold a Grand Opening when we can have specially invited guests to launch the place properly with a fanfare.”
“…“Our aim is to create a place to hang out…”
Ray and Isaac were keen to tell me about the bar. “We will be serving some stunning cocktails,” said Ray. “We will have a changing menu of cocktails to compliment the menu. We design them ourselves and they will all have an Asian twist. And if cocktails are not your thing – and why not? – we also have an excellent wine list and some really fine champagnes. Our fully trained bar tenders will be able to mix up for you a great range of tastes and temptations that will keep locals coming back for more!” The full team with the kitchen, floor and office staff numbers about thirty-five but of course at any one time you will not see that many as most work to a rota.
“We really want to make this place a place for sharing,” said Kelvin. “We can offer food suitable for vegans and those with allergies. We’ll be holding family days when we especially welcome children and their parents. We are offering spaces for private parties, for example at Christmas. And in the future we want to offer cookery classes in Asian food, things like dumplings and sushi preparation; it would be fantastic to run cocktail masterclasses in time. We’ve a huge outdoor area that we expect to have kitted out for next summer. You can stay in touch with all our developments by following us on Twitter and Facebook or signing up to our newsletter online.”
“…we’ll hold a Grand Opening when we can have specially invited guests to launch the place properly with a fanfare…”
“Canada Water and SE16 more generally are up and coming,” concluded Kelvin. “We see growing numbers of people with a young family or young single professionals. And there is a large south-east Asian community round here too. We want to offer them a classic spacious experience of dining surrounded by a range of textures and cladding. The restaurant is about 310 square metres with high ceilings and some amazing feature walls being painted now. We want to ensure that everything is ready so we can welcome our neighbours to become friends of the TASTI bar and restaurant on the square.”
TASTI UK can be found online at thetasti.co.uk/
Unit C, Montreal House, 154 Surrey Quays Road, SE16 7AQ
Facebook: TASTI Cocktail bar and Restaurant Twitter: @tastiuk
T: 033 3200 5838 E: firstname.lastname@example.org