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James Lowe
(Photo: Per-Anders Jorgensen)


James Lowe opened Lyle's in Shoreditch in 2014 with a particular take on British food that is produce-led and driven by a common sense philosophy.
Ally knew that Lyle's kept a tidy shop, from eating there a few times. Their food is adventurous but precise and confident, and they suit the entrepreneurial spirit of the neighbourhood. So in a neighbourly spirit she asked if they might entertain our request to shoot in their kitchen. In the end we not only shot at Lyle's, we also decided to work on a project for London Design Festival 2017, and a series of recipes- which you will discover throughout the season.
Here James answers a few of Ally's questions.

AC: Tell us the first thing you tasted that woke you up to the idea of being a foodie?

JL: I don't know if there was ever a “moment”. I do know that I am quite a picky person, which was very difficult for my parents growing up, apparently I would only eat bacon! I do very clearly remember the moment I decided that being a cook was what I wanted to do - I had eaten an incredible meal at The Fat Duck one Thursday night, maybe 14 or 15 years ago. Two days later I was sitting down at St John, I had ordered the bone marrow and parsley salad, a quail and a teal. The quail arrived as I was eating bone marrow for the first time and I just stopped and thought – “I want to open a restaurant, I want to make people feel as happy as I am right now”.

AC: Having eaten a few times at Lyle's I feel that there is quite a bit of drama in the food, from the little courses that arrive between the dishes to- let’s face it, some pretty unusual ingredients, and the very perfect presentation. So where does the theatre come from?

JL: I actually try and make sure the food makes sense and I'm not a big one for whimsy or contrived theatrics. Mostly I cook so that people enjoy the food, but I admit, if everyone who ate at Lyle's could feel swept up in the drama of the food, or be as excited as I am about some of the ingredients we use I would be very happy!

  • Eel Broth
    (Photo: Per-Anders Jorgensen)

  • Gulls' Eggs
    (Photo: Per-Anders Jorgensen)

  • Blood Cake
    (Photo: Per-Anders Jorgensen)

AC: How do you meet or get to know about your guest chefs? Do they become influences on your own cooking?

JL: There is a real strong sense of community amongst chefs. It's more of a recent thing. It didn't exist when I started cooking, there was too much animosity towards your peers. The game was very different. Social media and easy global communication has led to very few degrees of separation between chefs from all over the world. I hear about chefs abroad from those that travel to work with me and I see what people are cooking everywhere, mostly via social media. I tend to invite people that interest me. I like to know what people have done, where they've worked and where they want to go. When I was younger I used to work abroad in different restaurants to learn and gain experience, and I don't want that learning to stop or slow down now that I have my own restaurant.

AC: You like a bit of authenticity- I can tell. You obviously take the whole business of what you produce and your reputation, very seriously, but are you susceptible to the occasional indulgence of a fry up or a wagon wheel? Tell us the worst.

JL: I love ice cream, the ones I used to eat when I was a kid will always tempt me, things like a Fab, or a Twister, or there was one that was the shape of a foot and had a red ripple through it, just full of fake strawberry flavour, but I still love it.

AC: What’s you favourite dish at the moment?

JL: My favourite dish at the moment would probably be a grilled tripe dish we have on at lunch. It really sums up what we do at Lyle's. It's an ingredient that people wouldn't normally order, something they would say they don't like without really ever having tried. We take the tripe from rare breed animals in Cornwall, braise it with the best tomatoes I can find and then grill it until it becomes crispy and the sugars from the tomatoes caramelise at the edges. We slice it to play on the texture and serve it on a beef fat toast with a salad of herbs - sweet cicely, tarragon, parsley, chervil, wild sorrel and wild marjoram flowers. There is also a vinaigrette made from a preserved lemon vinegar.
Tripe and tomatoes is a pretty classic combination, nothing new at all, but I like to think there are several touches or things that make it fantastic. We pick a lot of the herbs for the salad ourselves from east London, the vinegar in the herb dressing takes 7 months to make, the tripe if from rare breed beef, I use tomatoes that others would use as a tip top salad tomato for cooking, the beef fat is from aged ribs. All these things are the little details, people won't necessarily be able to pick out each one but when combined I do think they should make anyone really enjoy the dish. Hopefully someone who was a little dubious would come, eat this and love it. I like the idea that someone would associate a feeling of discovering something in my restaurant through our food.

Visit Lyle's website here.
Follow Lyle's on Instagram here.
Follow James Lowe on Instagram here.


For AW17 the team at Lyle's have shared some recipes that are perfectly paired with the season's bags.
Discover new recipes throughout the season.

Peas & Ticklemore

(Photo: Per-Anders Jorgensen)

Enjoy this sweet and crunchy salad. It is a perfect mid-Summer plate.

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Peach & Ricotta Ice Cream

(Photo: Courtesy of Lyle's)

Catch the last rays of summer while it's still here. Subtle flavours come together in this simple but sweet dessert.

read more

Pumpkin, Whey Butter & Kale

(Photo: Courtesy of Lyle's)

Usher in the new season with this warming recipe, made up of rich autumnal ingredients.

read more

Lyle's interior
(Photo: Xavier Girard Lachaine)