Pull up a seat. Family-run Sabel serves up four-course feasts on communal banqueting tables, designed to bring relaxed conviviality to London’s dining-out culture. We chatted to ex-The Square and chef, Toby Williams about why family was his inspiration for his own food business.
“A key part of the ethos of the business -family orientated food, done with refinement. It’s represented in our name Sabel, an anglicised version of my mother’s maiden name. I chose it because it reminds me of so many great meals, those brilliant moments, sitting around tables with family and friends.
“It was a proper family and friends operation”
When we started Sabel two years ago, I kind of nudged and winked Lianna, my fiancé into doing it. It’s been lovely to work together. At our first pop-up on Broadway Market, Lianna worked front of house, my little brother ran the bar, my older brother and his partner helped design it and my other brother’s partner was a waitress on the floor. It was a proper family and friends operation. Nobody had experience in restaurants apart from me and we’d never worked together before. It was utterly chaotic but brilliant fun.
In our latest pop-up, (which will be hosting our wedding later this year), we wanted to recreate that feeling, which is why family and friends are very much involved. The thing with working with family is that they might not always do the most technically appropriate thing but they’ll be doing it for the right reason and so make up for it in other ways. I trust them completely.
My mum was very much so the main cook in my family. I was always intrigued by the transformation of the food my mum and my gran used to make with produce. One of the things we have on the menu is this dish called Lamb Scrumpets, which is braised lamb belly brushed with mustard, breaded and deep fried. I serve it with the same red current relish they both served with roast lamb on a Sunday.
In my opinion, sitting around a family table with big piles of food in front you, where everyone digs in and helps each other out is the best way to eat. I kept doing weddings and events such as Wilderness where I serve up big platters of food to communal tables. It was so convivial and fun -it just made sense to do it at Sabel. Often, I think that we folks in the food industry over complicate matters.
At Sabel, people book seats along a table, they might be sharing with some of their friends or with some people they don’t know. It forces people to interact in a way that you typically don’t in a restaurant. Normally, you turn up, get seated onto your little table and chat to only the people you know. I was so bored working in swanky restaurants with a stuffy environment, I wanted to be so far away from that and this is the perfect way to do it.”