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Q&A: Xavier Rousset, restaurateur and master sommelier, Trade

Published:  07 December, 2018

Xavier Rousset talks to Harpers about Trade, a new Soho-based private members’ club for the restaurant and bar world

London will soon have a private members’ club exclusive to the hospitality industry, set up by master sommeliers Xavier Rousset and Gearoid Devaney. Located in a basement on Soho’s Frith street, the new venue, with its late licence and late-opening kitchen, has been set up specifically to serve the needs of London’s hospitality industry. As the opening in January approaches, we caught up with Rousset about all the details.

Where did the idea for a members’ club for the industry come from and what is your vision for the venue?

As a trade we’re always trying to find a place to hang out, without music that’s too loud, and with good food and drinks. There are places where the trade goes, of course, but they’re not exclusive to the trade. This will be for members and you have to be in the hospitality industry. Although that’s quite broad – it includes suppliers, PRs, journalists, sommeliers, bartenders, chefs… If you’re an air-conditioning supplier that specialises in hotels and restaurants, you can apply.

Considering the target audience, there’s undoubtedly some pressure when it comes to the food and drink offering. What are you planning?

The drinks offering will be quite general – there won’t be a focus on Burgundy or Champagne or anything like that. Whatever we’ve tasted that month will be on the list. For the wines, we’re not doing a Pall Mall. It’ll be a short list of about 50 whites and 50 reds, well-priced and changing often. The same goes for spirits; there won’t be a particular focus, at least to start off with. We can always feature something for a month, like if there’s a buzz about mezcal, for example.

Because Gearoid and I are doing this, people might think it’ll be a very wine-oriented place, and of course there’ll be amazing wine, but it’s not just that.

As for food, you’ll find that chefs cook complicated food, but when they go out they want the simplest food possible. So we’re not trying to compete with the three-stars of this world. It will be the food you want to eat when you’re having a chat.

Who is on the team so far?

Michael Burke, who was at Craft London, is our general manager; Musa Ozgul, who used to be bar manager at Quo Vadis and after that was at Chess Club, will be our assistant general manager and will also help with the bar considering his background. Sven Hanson-Britt is the consultant chef, so we’re developing the menu with him.

It sounds like Trade has the potential to be more than just somewhere for members to get some food and drink. How do you envision it?

The whole idea is for members to socialise and share ideas. We hope it’ll be a hub for the industry. It’ll have a loungey, club atmosphere, and be less like a restaurant where everybody books for 1pm for lunch and is out by 3pm. We hope that in the daytime we’ll get events like winemaker tastings or lunches too.