In Conversation with: Crispin Somerville
MD of Quo Vadis, El Pastor and The Drop
@senor_pastor | tacos_el_pastor | @quovadissoho| @thedropwinebar
Prior to joining the Harts Group in 2016 (one of London’s favourite hospitality groups), Crispin spent a decade in Mexico, doing many things, including opening a restaurant with celebrated Mexican chef Gabriela Camara, and also searching for the best El Pastor… the name of the group’s Mexican restaurants here in the UK. Crispin’s had an interesting, varied career including being a co-founder of a Latin American communications agency, an MTV presenter, a ‘Letters Live’ event producer, and manager of Lily Allen’s label. Currently, he’s Managing Director of three of the group’s much-loved venues/brands including Quo Vadis, El Pastor and The Drop. Crispin, a longtime local resident, tells us about a few of his favourite things.
Where do you live and how long have you lived there?
I bought a little flat on Sinclair Road in 2008. I moved away to Ladbroke Grove but then returned – I’ve always had a connection with the area.
What’s special to you about this area?
This area is so special to me because it’s like a little hidden pocket of London.
It’s very quiet, it’s very neighbourly, it’s very peaceful. It’s not noisy at all. It’s very safe and it’s incredibly near to central London. I cycle into work in Soho every morning, and that takes me 15 minutes. It’s also very well connected and you’ve got the fabulous universe of Shepherd’s Bush, Holland Park and Notting Hill Gate just on your doorstep.
What are some of your favourite restaurants in the area?
I like Le Petit Citron, on Shepherd’s Bush Road; it’s so incongruous to the area – a really cosy French bistro serving heartwarming food. I also like Six Portland Road, just behind Holland Park; beautiful, simple, Italian leaning food. Esarn Kheaw on the Uxbridge Road is an amazing Thai, as is 101 Thai Kitchen, just off the end of Goldhawk Rd. There are a few little treasures around. Sagar, the vegetarian Indian place on King Street, is also really good.
If you are going to celebrate, where do you go?
If I’m gonna celebrate, I can’t resist Quo Vadis on Dean Street. There’s such an air of unhinged eccentricity that there’s always a surprise in store and a twist to the tail. And Jeremy Lee’s food is, quite frankly, delicious and to die for.
Do you have a favourite weekend lunch spot?
I do have a couple of favorite weekend lunch spots in the area. I like The Anglesea Arms down the road on Wingate Road. It has a nice kind of family atmosphere, well-kept beers and delicious wines and really delicious food.
Are there any other local businesses that you can’t live without?
Well, for many years, there was one of the great fruit and veg shops off Holland Park Road, called The Michanicou Brothers. They shut down, but the ever-enterprising Chris from Supermarket of Dreams, also on Holland Park, managed to get the original team to set up a fruit and veg outlet from his shop, called Supermarket of Greens. Supermarket of Dreams is a canny business by a really nice guy and if you are willing to pay for it, also has some of the best sushi available in London .
Do you have an insider local tip to tell us?
Sana Drycleaners on Richmond Way. It’s a really unassuming place, Mandarin owned by just the most charming, delightful man in the universe who always mends everything beautifully, gets things done, and greets you with a smile like you’re a long lost friend. That kind of shop is rare these days. It’s not an insider tip, but Shepherd’s Bush Market also absolutely rocks it.
What are your favourite local green spaces/ parks?
I love a walk by the river. Love Ravenscourt Park, love the Japanese garden in Holland Park. It’s all good. Love Scrubs too.
Anything else you want to tell us about the area?
Olympia is a very quietly diverse part of town. It’s often a place where people who have come to live and work from abroad first settle; it’s a very varied multicultural community. There’s not much pretension, it’s just a very real, quiet, residential area. The sense of community was enforced during lockdown, and it was generally a really peaceful place to be. It’s where I have made my home, and I like it very much.