The Curfew head chef Rob Pearce swaps stars for top pub grub
The Curfew on Cleveland Place is a prime example of why you shouldn't judge a book by its cover.
Look at the exterior and you might think it is simply a rather ordinary pub that has seen better days, but step inside and you'll find something rather different.
Since September manager and head chef Rob Pearce has been working to transform the tired looking interior into something quite special, with a cosy bar downstairs, and an elegant dining room upstairs.
"I have given the space a more fitting use now," said Rob. "I'm never happy and there's still more I could do, but now it is a nice place to go and it has still got character."
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Although he doubles as a manager, Rob's background is as a chef – a Michelin-starred chef in fact. But he has no plans to pursue stars for The Curfew.
"We are a pub," he said. "I don't want to change that. I'm not cooking for awards, I'm cooking food that I hope people will enjoy. You can come here and have a pint and a main meal for less than £15.
"Someone from Michelin came to see me, because they like to keep track of chefs who have won stars, and they said that the food wasn't up to my usual standard but I just thought 'I didn't ask you to come here'. This isn't a restaurant, it's a pub."
But although a star may not be on his agenda, it doesn't meant that the food isn't top quality.
"I predominantly use local food," said Rob. "Everything is English apart from the oranges, lemons and olives. And most of it is from the South West.
"The menu changes every day or so depending on what is best to buy at the time.
"I am trying to offer the customer the best value and the best quality.
"I cook honest food. We don't own a microwave, and the only thing that is frozen is the sorbet."
It is so important to Rob that the food is fresh that he doesn't even buy food in on a Monday.
"Everything that you buy on a Monday is at least a couple of days old," he said. "But I won't get a discount for that so why would I buy it?"
So on Monday nights he runs a supper club, creating a special menu from what is left in his fridges, and with a bargain price of just £16 for three courses.
The rest of the week Rob creates menus which are a mixture of pub classics and more unusual dishes.
"People are becoming more adventurous," said Rob. "A couple of years ago you could never sell offal, but now people will try things like liver or cheeks.
"But at the same time, everyone just wants everything battered. I haven't done fish and chips in a restaurant for 10 years, but it's one of the most popular things on the menu."
And although there is now a stylish dining room, Rob is keen that there is still plenty of space for people to come and enjoy a drink.
"You can't book a table downstairs," he said. "it is important to keep The Curfew as a drinking venue as well.
" A lot of people supported me while I was doing all the work and I don't want to be purely reliant on food.
"I will never ask someone who is having a drink to move to make space for someone who wants to order food. I just don't think it's right."