The Sea, The Sea Expands to Hackney

Chelsea’s chef-led fish shop and seafood bar The Sea, The Sea will open a unique, multi-functional space in late July 2021, located within a railway arch on Acton Mews in Hackney, East London. This new project will serve as a processing centre for wholesale and product development and from September will also house an immersive dining counter led by executive chef Leo Carreira.

At the core of The Sea, The Sea’s ethos is a commitment to sourcing and delivering exceptional produce. Having established direct links with fishermen in Cornwall, Devon and Dorset, the company will buy direct from boats, collected in their own vans and driven straight to the Hackney facility to be processed and sent out to restaurants that night; meaning they deliver same-day fish direct from source whilst maintaining total control of the process involving no third parties. The company also sources fish and live shellfish from Scotland and exceptional overseas produce such as abalones, gooseneck barnacles and uni. Whilst the company offers a full range of species for retail in-store and online, its wholesale offering will be more specialist, focusing on line-caught day-boat fish, live shellfish that will be held in special filtration tanks on-site and championing underappreciated products such as garfish, velvet crabs and seaweed.

The Sea, The Sea have been pioneers of the dry-aged fish movement in London and have been ageing fish in a customised cabinet in Chelsea since opening. Their Hackney unit will house a walk-in dry-ageing room for wholesale, meaning chefs can select fish for bespoke dry-ageing to be delivered when it reaches its peak. They will also produce a range of stocks, sauces and garums with Carreira’s signature creative style for sale to the trade and consumers.

With the move to Hackney, founder Alex Hunter is building on the brand’s success on Pavilion Rd, Chelsea, where it operates as a premium fishmonger by day, converting to a chic seafood bar with a terrace by night. Hunter has retained and expanded his opening team, having elected to drive the retail side of his business during the pandemic rather than furloughing staff. He says, “When we lost our restaurant revenue in lockdown, we saw it as an opportunity to cross-train our team and grow our retail trade for which there has been a huge demand. As a result, the team is stronger, we have a better-rounded organisation, and our revenues have grown exponentially. With our Hackney facility, we can take this experience into product development, specialist wholesale and expand our online retail services to become a truly London-wide brand”.

Although the expansion is a product of the company’s success in Chelsea, Hunter says the concept has been in the works since 2019 and was always the intended direction of the brand. Designer of their Chelsea store, Benjamin Wilkins, has been retained exclusively on the Hackney project for the last 18 months to make Hunter’s vision a reality. Wilkins says, “The arch provides a fantastic canvas for this project. Alex wanted a space that was both highly functional for processing large volumes of fish but also an immersive, sensory experience for diners coming to the counter for dinner, giving them a peek behind the scenes of the business. The result is a truly unique space somewhere between art installation, restaurant, laboratory and factory, and we can’t wait to unveil it to the public.”

Opening details of the dine-in experience will be released in due course, with Carreira planning a menu that is an evolution of the direction set at Pavilion Rd, but with greater resources to be “bold and progressive”.