www.groovekorea.com / June 2014 50 FOOD & DRINK Edited by Shelley DeWees (shelley@groovekorea.com) T his is the story of four schoolmates from Britain and their quest to prove that British food is more than just overcooked chicken tikka masala and undercooked meat pies. Sam Griffiths, Charlie McAlpine, his brother Jamie and Minsoo Lyo are all co-owners of Battered Sole, the iconic fish and chips restaurant in Sinchon, and now they’re taking their vision to Itaewon. This month they’ll be opening a new joint in the hyper-competitive alley behind the Hamil- ton Hotel, but they’re certain their food, drinks, prices and location will put them in a good place to sidle up alongside the best foreign food in Korea. “One of the reasons we’ve chosen to do this in Itaewon is because we want to compete. …. We like the challenge,” Griffiths says. “We know there are some good restaurants out there, but we think we have a good restaurant, too.” With the growth of their business comes the expansion of their menu; the new Battered Sole will move beyond fish and chips and into other British staples. Daily brunch will be key: sausage, bacon, eggs, tomato, baked beans and toast. “Getting a good breakfast in Ko- rea is unbelievably difficult, unless you want to eat bibimbab,” says co-owner McAlpine. Eggs, bacon and sausage in particular are usually done very poorly. “With bacon, if you go to (any Korean store), the product you buy doesn’t resemble anything I would term as ‘bacon.’ Sausages are similar. ... It’s just a generic meat in a casing. And even with eggs, very rarely do you get a well-cooked fried egg, let alone a scrambled or poached egg.” To remedy the situation, they’ve found a British sausage maker and have connected with a local butcher who can cure bacon to their exact specifications. They’re also going to make their own baked beans, but Charlie says none of this is terribly difficult. “You hear about these common foods and think, ‘How on earth would I make that?’ But the reason they’re common is because they’re quite easy to make.” Gravy is another staple they’re looking to improve. “So rarely do you see a place mak- ing its own gravy,” he says, “which I think is a tragedy. When I get a plate of meat, it’s the thing I’m looking forward to most. If you can get fresh ham hock stock, add that to draft cider and you’ve got amazing gravy.” Charlie feels restaurants set themselves up for failure by going for complicated items without get- ting the basics down right. He wants the new Battered Sole to create simple food, but to do it properly. At the same time, he’s also pretty excited about the new second-flo or terrace, which will have sun exposure for at least part of every afternoon. Up there, the owners hope guests will be able to relax with a cocktail and share food together. “My idea of good al fresco dining is to have all kinds of cold foods, with some bread and a glass of wine or a cocktail,” Charlie says, “so we’ll be sticking to pretty ba- sic things, like duck rillettes. With those, es- sentially all you’re getting is duck legs, cooked until they’re shreddable, whipped into a kind of pâté. Then you get your bread and spread it on there. Simple.” The idea will be to order several appetizers — kind of like a British ta- pas — and to enjoy them in a group. “You’ll order a selection and sit outside, enjoy the weather and eat different things,” Charlie says. People like to share food in Korea, “so these will be perfect. ... You can have a little taste of everything.” There will also be a series of signature cock- tails: Pimm’s (a very popular British concoc- tion made of gin, Sprite and fresh fruit), a homemade dirty lemonade and a dirty Ribena, which tastes of blackcurrants and was named after a British cordial. “The beauty of these drinks is that you almost can’t taste the al- cohol,” Griffiths says, something that matters most in the summer months. “You want some- thing refreshing out of them, not anything that Battered Sole’s new Itaewon location will be a breath of fresh British air Story by Dave Hazzan / photos by Colin Dabbs More Than cod