A large Hilton hotel on the edge of Westminster isn’t an obvious location for one of London’s hottest new restaurants. In fact, The Pem would have car crash written all over it were it not for the outstanding pedigree of its all-female senior team. Former The Harwood Arms chef Sally Abé is leading the project supported by Laetizia Keating in the kitchen and Emma Underwood front of house.
The Pem is named after suffragette Emily ‘Pem’ Davidson and is in many ways an elevation of what Abé was doing at Fulham gastropub The Harwood Arms, albeit in a very different setting. The 70-cover restaurant’s launch menu is distinctive and clearly penned by a chef that came up in kitchens that prioritised proper cooking over fiddling around with squeezy bottles (Abé’s CV includes The Ledbury and Elystan Street).
There’s a fair bit of classicism on display with the a la carte featuring John Dory with sauce divine – hollandaise loosened with sherry-spiked whipped cream – rabbit fashioned into a ballotine, and wild mushrooms with herb mousseline. With its red and pink colour palette and a theatrical yet informal approach to service, The Pem is no shrinking violet. “For me, going out for dinner is about having fun,” says Abé. We couldn’t agree more.