Fascinating as the radical new working method, workers’ co-operative,
horizontal structure, and all-round bright-young-thingness of St Luke’s
is, it was with some trepidation that the Diary approached in-house
lunch with the charming Andy Law.
We’re not great fans of in-house. It usually means a few curled-up
sandwiches and byzantine coffee pots. Well, this time we were wrong,
First there was the smell. A delicious aroma of garlic and tomatoes
wafting up the stairs from St Luke’s basement in the former Wolff
Olins/Laing Henry building in Euston. Then there was the huge kitchen,
the bustling dining area with giant Habitat tables nestling among ping-
pong tables and Apple Macs where sad people played with the Internet
and, of course, the classic Italian chefs.
Not just any chefs, mind you. Franco, from Toscana, just happens to be
the founder of the much-loved San Frediano restaurant in London’s Fulham
Road. After 20 years, he sold out in the late 80s to devote more time to
worrying about his boy, Dave Buonaguidi, who just happens to be the
joint creative director of St Luke’s. Bruno, from Parma, the one who
looks like Luca Brasi, the mean bloke from the Godfather (as in ‘Luca
Brasi - he sleeps with the fishes’), was the head chef, until he
disagreed with the new owner on future creative strategy.
When St Luke’s moved into the former toffee factory in January, the
workers’ co-op found themselves ‘lumbered’ with a designer kitchen range
designed by Wally Olins. They didn’t know what to do till Dave asked
papa for advice.
The boys started coming in for fun in February and now serve up a short
menu with options and great puds at unbelievably cheap prices
(especially if you know San Fred’s) Monday to Thursday. (On Fridays,
it’s curled-up sarnies and byzantine coffee machines.) They serve 35 to
40 covers a day and go big on vegetarian sauces - obviously, as
Italians, not through choice but because ‘a lotta da women don’ wanna
put on too much weight’.
We were treated to a magnificent Tuscan bean soup with perfect al dente
pasta, followed by a stunning bowl of spaghetti with tuna and olives.
The tiramisu, made on site an hour or two earlier, was to die for. If
they’re in a good mood they’ll name a dish a day after a member of
staff. On the day we were there, yet another member of staff had
discovered they were to be a parent - a phenomenon the boys,
inevitably, put down to their ‘magic food’.
Their fame is spreading, too. We heard doctors from round the corner
phone to ask if they could come to lunch. But they rule with an iron
fist - even visiting clients have to put their dishes into a behind-the-
So what do the boys make of agency life? ‘English people, I don’t want
to offend them, but they don’t understand Italian food well,’ Bruno
says. ‘That’s just a joke, OK?’ Actually, Bruno, anything you say is OK