Christopher’s Blackened Salmon
Here At Christopher’s, where I’m head chef, the blackened salmon is one of the most iconic dishes. It’s blackened by spices like cayenne, paprika, thyme and garlic powder, which caramelise when they hit a hot pan. Jambalaya is a spicy risotto with roots in the French and African communities that settled in New Orleans. You can get salmon anywhere, so to make it something special requires you to really take it to the next level. We serve it with a mixed salad of whatever leaves are in season, and a wedge of lime.
Christopher’s has been in Covent Garden for a long time but we’re always trying to improve. Officially we’re an American restaurant, but really we’re a huge melting pot of culture and cuisine. It started out as a steakhouse, though these days it’s so much more than that – look at the menu and you’ll see plantain, ceviche, jambalaya. All these dishes are found all over North America, though they might not be what you first associate with American cuisine.
When Christopher Gilmour first set up the restaurant in London, he wanted to recreate the jazz, steak and cocktail culture of his hometown, Chicago. Many of our customers still want this, so we still have burgers and steaks. I think our burgers are the best burgers in London. As for the steak, it’s a Wagyu cut – one of the finest. There are many restaurants around Covent Garden offering pre-theatre set menus. Normally with these set menus it’s the cheaper stuff on offer, but I’ve put the Wagyu rump steak on ours. We see the set menus as an opportunity to really show what we can do with the possibility of enticing people back for a special meal.
I started at Christopher’s as a sous-chef in 1993 and the first time I walked in, I remember thinking, “I want to be the head chef here one day.” It has a great martini bar and a proper, old dining room. We also have a raw bar which has carpaccio and tuna tartare and the like.
As a chef, it’s quite challenging to make healthier options exciting and glamorous. We’ve always had fresh marinaded fish on the menu, but trends in food are like anything else – they come and go and you just need to invent new ways to make it interesting when it comes around again. We’ve updated a few of our dishes with things like coconut water and zucchini, which are both popular and healthy – and thankfully, have a great flavour, too.
Find Christopher’s at 18 Wellington Street, WC2E 7DD. To book a table, call 020 7240 4222