To-Go TakesLondon

The Laughing Heart’s Charlie Mellor Talks Innovation, Chinese Dumplings, and The Dish He’d Walk Miles For


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To-Go Takes is Resy’s regular feature wherein we quiz the folks behind some of our favourite restaurants about all things related to takeaway and delivery.

In this edition, we speak to Charlie Mellor, the founder and owner behind The Laughing Heart and its adjoining bar, The Cave at The Laughing Heart — an outstanding institution to drink wine from small producers and a superb neighbourhood bistro to boot. The former is open for takeaway and delivery (including an outstanding Easter menu), while the Cave’s impressive wine list is available for collection. Below, he shares some of his favourite takeaway tips, tricks, cocktails, and regular stops.


Restaurant: The Laughing Heart 

Name + Title: Charlie Mellor, Founder and Owner

The Laughing Heart is legendary for its Cave, and for working with small scale farmers. What have you personally been drinking during lockdown?

During lockdown I don’t tend to drink so much – booze is a social thing for me and sadly it’s very hard to be social right now. On Christmas Day I opened some ridiculous bottles, and also on my birthday. I think the key for me right now is drink less frequently but drink really good stuff when I do. Most wine, occasionally a Dry Martini.
The Cave is also operating as an Off Licence of sorts for takeaway. I can’t imagine there’s an easy answer, but what are your favourite bottles on the list at the moment?
The Cave always has been a wine shop – the full list of wines from the restaurant are available to take away at retail prices. Right now we are open Wednesday to Sunday, from 2pm until about 9pm. My favourite wine changes every day; it really depends on my mood. However I will say that Pierre Frick’s Maceration Pinot Gris the wine that I drink most regularly. It is so approachable yet complex, with a salty, tea like character. I drink it when I’m thirsty.

Big Night, the delivery company you founded last year, was one of 2020’s unequivocal success stories in what was by all accounts an extremely challenging year. For those who are unfamiliar, what is it, how does it work, and what’s next for the company?

Big Night is a marketplace that delivers the best of London restaurants to people’s homes. We work with the best-in-class within our industry, everything from high end, Michelin places to the incredible neighbourhood spots famous amongst those of us who work in this business. We work with brands we love. We are supporting restaurants through this difficult time by providing the most versatile marketplace and a host of delivery options; from click and collect, local delivery with our fleet or nationwide via courier. Every restaurant has a unique set of needs. I know that because I have a restaurant myself. Big Night embraces those unique requirements, offers advice on the best way to move forward, then facilities it. We are also engaging with broader culture,  developing incredible content to keep people interested. When the madness subsides we have all sorts of exciting plans. Big Night is the only cool company in the space.  This new side of the business has a big future. We can help bring restaurants to people’s homes with dignity and style.

If The Laughing Heart team was working and you ordered takeaway for staff meal, where are you getting takeaway from and what are you ordering?
We love a roast meat and rice bowl around here. Something from one of the great Vietnamese places on Kingsland road maybe? Loads of fresh chilli, mint, coriander; that type of thing. Washed down with a mango juice.

Do you have a favourite recommendation to spruce up your takeaway?

Get some plates warm at home. Set the table, put on some tunes, light a candle. Give yourself an experience – you deserve it.

The Laughing Heart.

The restaurant is known for its creative, well-travelled approach to food, and you’re currently delivering Chinese dumplings like har gau and xiaolongbao across East London. How has it been going, and what was the impetus behind it?

I love Cantonese food, always have; it’s the food I grew up eating in Australia. Dumplings are just so good; amazing with wine, particularly fizz. Dumplings exist in so many cuisines, and I think we will go more global in style with The Dumpling Store moving forward. They come frozen, but it’s just minute in the steamer or in a pan to bring them to steamy perfection. It’s a product we love, that we serve occasionally in the restaurant and loads of in The Cave. They’re practical for us to offer right now, so we don’t have loads of chefs working hard every day during lockdown. It’s been great. We are currently rebranding and working on the packaging to send them across London and maybe even nationwide.
Aside from The Laughing Heart, what’s your favourite place for cocktails to-go?
The gang at Happiness Forgets are onto something with their offering right now. Same with Tayer+Elementary.

What single restaurant dish would you walk miles for? And which restaurant are you visiting first when lockdown eventually gets relaxed?

I would walk miles for them…. but I don’t have to. As soon as possible I’ll be strolling down the road for a plate of anchovies at Brawn.

The Laughing Heart and The Cave at The Laughing Heart are open for takeaway wine and handmade Chinese dumpling deliveries. They are also offering an excellent Easter At-Home menu for delivery. Order and learn more here