A row of Iberian ham hangs in the back window of this eatery which is located in a once less fashionable part of the City of London right next to Shoreditch Town Hall. The restaurant is one large airy room into which light pours through the windows and seats about forty people. Small green plants adorn every table to give it a lift but the interior is quite stark with plain, scrubbed wood tables and one small white marble table. You might almost see it doubling up as an autopsy room! As we enter, six staff are beavering away behind the worktop that separates the kitchen from the restaurant. We are greeted several times with cheery “hello” from them which although somewhat over the top is much better than a snooty sneer that one might get in somewhere like The Fat Duck!
Our waiter was pleasant but seemed inexperienced. One got the impression it was his first day. We ordered aperitifs and he asked if we wanted ice. We said “yes”. “How much ice?” was his next question. Then with my Campari and soda another question, “would you like any fruit in that?”. I was expecting to run the full gamut of questions “organic ?”, “what colour would you like your orange?”..etc.. When the drinks came, they were served in tall slim glasses and one assumes they were doubles given that it was £9 for a gin and tonic! But I digress. We chose three course menu at £35. We were not keen to have five courses for lunch which was also on offer.
Amuse bouches arrived. One had three different taster size titbits. The best of which was the buttermilk fried chicken nugget which was both crispy and succulent at the same time. A small broth followed which was like miso soup. Very tasty and a nice touch as it was unexpected.
Our mackerel starter looked raw but was fabulous and very fresh. The main course of beef was tender and accompanied by some spinach but not much more. At least if one was on a diet one would be happy. The meat retained a little fat on the edge which gave it that added flavour. Your Doctor eats his fat, unlike Fortescue. (that reminds one of an old nursery rhyme.)
Then it was dessert. Having mentioned one’s diabetes earlier, they whisked up a caramelised fig with buttermilk and mint. It was so wonderful a mix of flavours, that one is going to try to get cook to recreate this at home. One hopes she is in a creative mood!
Petits fours included a polenta-based (one thinks) madeleine and a bar of home made diabetic chocolate which was a very nice and surprising addition. One washed this down with an excellent double expresso. One is always impressed when a restaurant makes an effort with the coffee as it is the last thing one remembers of a meal..Apart from the bill of course!!
One certainly gets more than expected by just reading the menu and the amuse bouches and petit fours are generous. It’s a very interesting experience if not perfect. It would not deter one from returning another time. Definitely worth a prod mes amis!
Oh yes, and if you are wondering what the other daguerrotypes are ..we trundled off the Jamaica wine house near the Bank of England for old times sake. It’s a drinking house steeped in history as testified by the front door step which has worn to almost nothing over the centuries as many city financiers have entered sober and left..not quite so. Hurrah!
380 Old St, London EC1V 9LT
Tel: +44 20 7729 6496