When Elliot was just six years old, Peter Livanos – one of the majority shareholders of Aston Martin at the time – gave him a gift that we can all only dream of: an Aston Martin. Knowing full well that his father would not accept the extravagant gift, Livanos cleverly decided to gift Elliot the car instead. Thinking back, Elliot recalls: “He said, "I've got a present for you. Come with me." He had his big transporter at the circuit with mechanics playing around with a remote-control car, and there were some cars parked out front. I was six years old at the time, and he said, "There you go. I've got a present for you, the car." I thought he was talking about the remote control. I said, "Oh, thanks so much." He said, "Oh, no, not that one. That one."
The car in question was a beautiful 1952 Aston Martin DB2. The car would spend most of its time on display in a museum and remarkably, Elliot never actually drove it, although he did get to experience a few laps as a passenger at the hands of his father.
But why did Elliot not follow his father’s career path? When asked by his father about following in his footsteps, he said that he liked the idea of the crumpet, world travel, and the money, but Elliot had missed one key point: the driving! After a chance meeting with a family friend on holiday, it had sparked a passion for food that Elliot wanted to explore and the opportunity arose for Elliot to train at Le Gavroche, opened by Michel and Albert Roux in 1967.
Meanwhile, he would still get to enjoy opportunities to drive some of Stirling’s old race cars and and passenger is some road cars Stirling would occasionally be testing. “There was the incident with the Ferrari… Oh God, so he was testing a Ferrari in the late 80s, he brought it around and he came in to ask me if I wanted to go for a quick drive in it. Sounds great, so I come downstairs by the time we got outside the car was gone, it had been stolen, in less than two minutes!”
Having trained at the legendary restaurant, Elliot’s passion for food had reached a point where he wanted to open a restaurant and serve his own expression of fine dining. Elliot needed over £200k to fund the dream, and Stirling had pledged to support his son and initial plans had been to name is ‘Stirlings’, but sadly ill health took hold and new plans had to be made.
“I wrote to Livanos and said, "I'm so sorry, but would you mind me selling the Aston? It's for this reason. Would that be fine?", Livanos replied, "I'd be thrilled to help you like that. Would you like me to put you in touch with someone at Bonhams?”
So, the car was placed into the 2018 Bonhams December sale, but prices had dropped below the £200k he needed, and the estimate had been placed at £120k. Elliot recalls how nervous he was watching the first few lots sell; “My friend said, "You're a mess. Let's go watch the earlier lots, and that'll make you feel better, because you'll see them all selling, and that'll be good.”
“The first one is a nice enough Mercedes with a £5,000 to £6,000 estimate. I sit down and I think, "Okay, £5,000 to £6,000. Let's see what this goes for." The auctioneer calls: "Do I hear £500? No reserve. £300 then. £200 pounds." Someone puts his hand up. No one else goes. "Sold, for 200 pounds." Shit, this is not good at all. This hasn't made me feel better at all, and my friend must be sat there thinking, "I shouldn't have even brought him here." Eventually the car sold for just over £200k with fees; enough for Elliot to pursue his dream.
Today we are sat in the dining room at PLU about to embark on an epic 14 course tasting menu. Elliot, like his father, is full of personality and will happily talk for hours. The menu is designed to be fun, and each course delivers with stunning flavors and clever presentation. My stand-out dish from the night would have to be the PLU-Meria a great take on the classic Cherry Bakewell. A ‘frangipane’ base wrapped in delicate pastry with poached and roasted cherries and Madagascan vanilla, served with a twill.
It is certainly the best meal I have had in a long time and well worth booking in advance for any planned trips to London or the UK. Elliot’s wife, Helen, runs the show from the front, helping to deliver a truly special dining experience. Overall the dining experience takes an unrushed 3-4hrs depending on how much of a rush you are in.
We return a few days later to watch the master at work, preparing a few of our favorite dishes from the tasing and inviting us to try out some different flavors. Like his father, Elliot is clearly in control and taking the lead with dishes that surprise and delight all the way through the set tasting menu.
The order books are open at PLU and we suggest you book London’s best kept secret before the word gets out. Elliot and Helen have created a fantastic environment in which to enjoy some of the finest food you will ever eat. The fact that Elliot is Sir Stirling Moss' son just makes it all even cooler.
As well as general opening there is also the option for private dining events and Aubrey Peck have recently teamed up with PLU to arrange monthly automotive dinners with a special menu, providing a great opportunity to network within the classic car industry.