A new restaurant, Luscombes, has opened in Henley in the old Cafe Buendia premises. The Bell St restaurant is owned and run by Steve Luscombe, who previously owned Luscombes at the Golden Ball in Lower Assendon for 15 years.
Steve Luscombe, whose culinary career spans over 30 years, brings a wealth of expertise to this venture. Having honed his skills in Oxford and London, Steve has worked alongside a number of renowned chefs, including Raymond Blanc, Marco Pierre White, and Herbert Berger. He owned and ran the Michelin-recommended restaurant, Luscombes at the Golden Ball in Lower Assendon, for a remarkable 15 years.
The newly opened Luscombes in Bell St, which welcomed its first customers on Friday 13th, marks a new chapter for the local restauranter. Steve shared his experiences in preparing the location for opening. “I did the shop fit myself, practically,” he said. “Me and my chefs painted. It was a real in-house operation trying to get it open. I’ve been here exactly a month today [Saturday 14th] and we are open, we opened last night. We’ve had to rearrange the kitchen, everything, and then we had the flood. I was only here four days and the cellar flooded.”
He continued, “The first night was amazing – we were full! There were people laughing. It was a really nice atmosphere with the lights down. That’s the mood we’re going for.”
Luscombes will serve a variety of offerings throughout the day. Sharing his vision for the business, Steve said, “At the minute, we’re trying to just get the place open. It’s a restaurant in the evening, and the plan is for a healthy breakfast: yogurt, coconut yogurt with honey and mango, and fresh fruit, maybe some fresh pancakes… We are trying to avoid the greasy spoon thing. When we do eventually do sandwiches, it will be things like brie, avocado, bacon, and cranberry. Something a bit different than a bog-standard sandwich. We’re trying to offer something slightly different because there are some great cafes around. For lunch, we are doing fresh salads too, which you can eat in or take away. We also plan to do hot pots and things like that, that you can eat inside. The plan is to do not too big a menu but keep turning it over, and of course, have the restaurant in the evening.”
Reflecting on the choice of location, Steve stated, “I saw it on the market around Easter, and have been working on doing a deal with them since then, so five months. It’s a prime location. For me personally, people are saying it is too small for me, and yes, it is, but it gets me in town, it gets me here, and I can look for another operation. I’ve got this for 15 years now, and it’s a great location. No matter what you do with it, it will always do well, this spot. Ideally what I would like is a bigger restaurant, with a bigger kitchen, that I can then feed this place.”
For Steve, the journey to Luscombes in Henley was not without its trials. Until last year, he had been working in both Henley and Spain, splitting his time between the two countries. However, a back injury forced him to take a ten-month break, in which his savings were seriously hit. With three children to support, he decided to return to Henley full time. He said, “I could set something up here but couldn’t really do it in Spain. Over here I have a reputation, and am known here, so it just made sense. I’m happy to be back. The kids are all settled in school, and it’s going really well.”