CHEF DIRECTOR, BEN TISH ON THE ‘NEW’ORANGE

CHEF DIRECTOR, BEN TISH ON THE ‘NEW’ORANGE

Q&A with Ben Tish on The ‘New’ Orange and why the Chicken Milanese is off the menu.

Chef, restaurateur and the man behind the food at Cubitt House pubs, Ben Tish, sat down with us to talk about what we can expect from his new menu for The Orange, what’s changed, what’s stayed the same, and the surprising menu addition that has divided his kitchen…

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Regulars will no doubt have their favourites from the old menu – have you kept any of the existing dishes?

The concept is pretty much the same as we were doing before, that Mediterranean style, but most of the dishes have been overhauled. We’ve taken the chicken milanese off, which I think some regulars will mention – that was very popular. It can always go back on but I felt like doing a whole refresh. The only thing we’ve kept is the focaccia – all the other dishes are new.

How do you decide which dishes to include and which to ditch when you’re in the planning process?

There is some maths behind it, in a certain way, we pick the ones that we think will be really popular and how accessible and familiar the ingredients are.

It’s not a fine dining restaurant, it’s a pub, at the end of the day, so we want the dishes to be familiar and comforting largely. The process really is seeing what other places are doing, cherry picking things from old recipes of my own. I wanted to make the most of the pizza oven too, so there’s more of a focus on pizzas, and we’re cooking some of the meat and fish in the pizza oven too, which gives it a sweet smokiness. 

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What flavour combination from the menu shouldn’t work, but does?

Well, we do have a pineapple pizza with Iberico pork, which I know is quite divisive, we’ve had some raised eyebrows from the Italians here about that one. We’ve also got a burrata dish with parmesan, truffle and wild mushrooms, which is quite interesting, and it’s come out as one of the most popular dishes in tastings.

Do you think it’s important to keep some traditional ‘pub grub’ on the menu?

What I want is for diners to come in and recognise everything on the menu, I don’t want it to be ‘challenging’ food. That said, there isn’t really any traditional ‘pub grub’ on the menu, we’ve even taken the burger off. Everything is very southern Mediterranean influenced, so the chips and steak are seasoned with rosemary and garlic, the Sunday Roast is slow-roast lamb shoulder cooked overnight and pork belly with quince.

We’re also doing breakfast for the first time, which will be flatbreads topped with egg, fennel sausage, pancetta and tomato, or stracciatella with blood orange marmalade, and cooked in the pizza oven, plus maritozzi buns stuffed with cream, Amalfi lemon cake, a very Italian inspired breakfast. We wanted to do something a little different to what other people were doing for breakfast.

Which dish is your favourite?

I love the rib-eye steak with a whole roasted onion stuffed with pecorino cheese, breadcrumbs and herbs.

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What would your death row meal be – starter, main and dessert – from the new menu?

For the starter, it would be the sea bass crudo with blood orange. The main course would be homemade rigatoni with cavolo nero sauce and burrata. And dessert, a blood orange and Campari sorbet in an orange shell.

What was behind the decision to renovate The Orange?

Well, it really needed it! It’s a lovely place and back in the day it was quite a destination pub with its own brewery. It’s a huge, iconic building. We just wanted to bring it back to an updated version of where it was. It’s got loads of different spaces and areas and we wanted to showcase that more. Our crowd here is fairly young so we’re going to focus on a bit of live music and DJs in the lower ground floor too.

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What’s your favourite feature of The ‘New’ Orange?

I think the new ground floor bar, with its charcuterie and cheese chef (with a really nice slicer!) is a great touch.

You’re throwing a no-holds barred, money-is-no-object party at The Orange. Who are your dream 3 guests – dead or alive – and why?

Obviously, I have to say my wife. Then I’d also like to ask my two grandmothers, who are both dead, because my wife didn’t meet either of them. They were both amazing cooks in their own right, cooking definitely skipped a generation with my parents, but both grans were amazing women. It would be great for them to come and see what we’re doing at The Orange.

Anything else up your sleeve this year?

The Orange is the big focus, but we’ve got a lot going on at The Builders Arms too, which we renovated last year. We’ve also got Cubitt House Eats With, which sees guest chefs and cookbook writers coming in to do a meal with us. And also, my fifth cookbook, Mediterra, is out in July.


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