An award-winning restaurateur is set to breathe new life into one of Warwick’s oldest buildings with his latest venture.
Flamenco is the second project for Alex Clayton who recently won Best Spanish Restaurant Award for Tasca Dali which opened in High Street seven years.
Following a major refurbishment, he now hopes to replicate this success at the new Spanish restaurant and cocktail bar, marking the latest chapter in the rich history of The Tudor House Inn in West Street.
The Grade II former coaching inn was among only a handful of buildings to survive the Great Fire of Warwick in 1694, which destroyed most of High Street, Church Street, Sheep Street and parts of Jury Street and New Street.
From a manor house it went on to become Sunnyside Apartments in 1888, an auction house in the early 1900s, Tudor House Café and then Tudor House Inn bed and breakfast, as it’s best known today. It also has a supernatural reputation thanks to its resident ghost Jennifer.
Alex said: “I loved the building and the history of it and I think I can bring a unique angle to how we do things here.
“It’s nice to have a bit more space which I don’t have in Tasca Dali and a proper kitchen and the capacity to offer something different, to be creative. The idea is that this is a creative space for food, for music and even art.
“We are trying to breathe new life into the building. I like to respect the antiquity of the place but also try and make it shine a bit. We’d tried to respect the colour schemes and restore traditional elements while, at the same time, juxtaposing it with contemporary elements which I think lifts it and gives it some good energy. “
The new offering includes an extensive cocktail menu plus live music, showcasing local talent.
Alex, 50, said: “I want this to be a creative space so we want to play with different artists and different acts, everything from Flamenco guitarists to singers and blues musicians. There is some good talent out there and we want to showcase it. And I think we’re the only place in Warwick offering a Sunday lunch with live music.”
Chef Rafael Liste Toledo uses authentic and traditional Spanish cooking methods specialising in tapas, paella cooked over flame and hot stone cooking (meat is cooked on a hot stone). It’s this cooking style that was the inspiration behind the restaurant’s new name which is a play on Flame’nCo.
Born in Venezuela but a Spanish national, Rafael said: “My cooking reflects my shared Spanish and Latin roots with the creative elements stemming from my work in music and photography. I look for harmony and balance in my dishes.”
Alex said: “It’s an ancient way of cooking, it’s also a shared experience, when you have your meat you can cook it with a friend. It’s interactive. I see food as a nexus. It’s a thing that you share, a ritual, it’s about bringing people together.
“We’re first a restaurant and second a business, making everything from scratch, taking immense care on the quality of ingredients direct from Spain. It makes all the difference. We also put a lot of focus on presentation.”
Indeed, most of the ingredients including cheeses, hams, chorizos, olive oils come from Spain, along with locally sourced meats and fish from Cornwall.
Alex, who spent 25 years living in Spain, said: “I would like this to be seen as a place that people come for a variety of reasons, for the music, for the food, to celebrate something. Given the history of the place I think it’s a great venue and unique. That’s one of things that attracted me. I’d like this to be a destination place, where you will have fantastic wine and food that you won’t find anywhere else.”