The best Shoreditch restaurants

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Hipster HQ Shoreditch is home to some of London’s best restaurants, from Michelin-starred hotspots to spicy Thai street food and hush hush supper clubs. To experience the best, here’s our pick of the best restaurants in Shoreditch in 2020. For more of the latest restaurant openings in Shoreditch and London, subscribe to our foodie newsletter.

  • The best Shoreditch restaurants

    1. PADELLA

    This is Borough Market’s hit pasta restaurant’s second site (there’s still a permanent queue outside the first) – an opening that has excited the many customers previously turned off by long waiting times. This one, behind The Curtain hotel on Phipp Street is a scene of polished concrete – grab a stool at the counter and watch the chefs churning out the famous worm-like pici cacio e pepe and bright pappardelle with eight-hour beef-shin ragu. Also on the menu is tagliarini with Dorset crab, chilli and lemon and ’nduja and mascarpone cavatelli. The best bit? There won’t be any actual queues, just virtual ones – put your name down on the Walk In app ahead of time and turn up when your table is ready.

    Address: Padella, 1 Phipp Street, Hackney, London EC2A 4PS


    Website: padella.co

    Pictured: Padella’s Cavatelli with slow cooked broccoli, garlic, anchovy and chilli

  • The best Shoreditch restaurants

    2. WILDER

    Chef Richard McLellan has teamed up with British designer Sir Terence Conran to create a homegrown, eco-friendly menu which takes inspiration from the all-British supper clubs that McLellan used to run in his own home. In an industrial-style space in the basement of the Boundary hotel, dishes are packed with seasonal ingredients from around the British Isles – scallops fished in Cornwall, in-season game, beef from an Oxfordshire farm which butchers just one animal a week. Plus, the Wilder team curate their list of suppliers personally, from ceramics to foragers. This is a delicious place to eat, in one of Shoreditch’s coolest dining rooms – that’s right on the edge of the locally-grown, zero-waste movement.

    Address: Wilder, 2-4 Boundary Street, Redchurch Street, London E2 7DD


    Telephone: +44 20 7729 1051


    Website: wilderlondon.co.uk

  • The best Shoreditch restaurants

    3. Smoking Goat

    Authentic South-East Asian flavours in Shoreditch

    This is chef Ben Chapman’s third Thai-spiced hotspot. His first restaurant – which will close its doors in January 2018 – arrived on Soho’s Denmark Street in 2014 and marked the arrival of contemporary Thai food in London. Next, just down the road on Brewer Street, was Kiln – influenced by Yunnan, Burma and Bangkok – which opened in 2016 to critical acclaim. And while the Shoreditch location of his latest venture may be in a different part of town (a prime place on the corner of Redchurch Street), his methods are the same, bringing authentic flavours from northern Thailand to well-sourced ingredients. This restaurant is his biggest yet: a candle-lit joint that could pass for a pub if it wasn’t for the charcoal-smoke-filled open kitchen, and is already packed with a cool, young crowd.

    FOOD

    Chapman isn’t afraid of spice. A delicious duck laab has a searing heat that might make your cheeks sweat (a side order of the rich, lardo-fried rice helps cool things a little). The fish-sauce wings are a milder must-order (even if you don’t normally like getting your fingers sticky), while wild mussels are steamed and accompanied by naam jim, a sweet chilli dipping sauce. The mains are pretty super-sized. An enormous goat shoulder spiced with massaman paste could easily keep a table of four busy, as would the plate of drunken noodles with charred beef brisket. The Cornish mackerel with turmeric sells out every night, and the tom yam soup with crab and mussels is an unusual take on the Thai classic. The moral of the story is to go with a big group so you can try the lot. And order lots of water.

    DRINK

    The nice thing about Smoking Goat is you can just stop by for a drink. Plus, if you’re waiting for a table, there are dedicated counters to perch at and peruse the menu over a pint of One Mile End Brewery’s Juicy 4pm ale, served in a frosted glass. The simple list of Thai-inspired cocktails includes tequila mandarin and lime, bourbon and lemongrass, and rye and green chilli. For something more out there order a yuzu sake or Thailand’s favourite spirit, Mekhong, from the Odd Liquors section of the menu).

    VERDICT

    A fun, tasty and nicely priced Shoreditch joint. Order a magnum or two of craft beer and a couple of the large sharing plates, and settle in.

    By Tabitha Joyce

    Address: Smoking Goat, 64 Shoreditch High Street, London E1 6JJ


    Website: smokinggoatbar.com

  • The best Shoreditch restaurants

    4. Cub

    The Mr Lyan empire of Ryan Chetiyawardana (Super Lyan, Dandelyan) is ever-expanding. For this Hoxton venture, Cub, he has partnered with Doug McMaster of Brighton’s pioneering zero-waste restaurant, Silo. The pair launched London’s first seriously smart restaurant where food production goes beyond locality and seasonality, taking on entirely ‘closed-loop’ practises and upcycling ingredients other kitchens throw away. Set in a bright, light space above Super Lyan on Hoxton Street, this is the booze king’s first gig experimenting with gastronomy too – and he’s challenging diners on everything from flavour to food waste.

    FOOD AND DRINK

    While you can order à la carte here, we strongly advise against it. What makes Cub so unique and thrilling are its seamless food and drink combinations. Chetiyawardana and McMaster have carefully developed menus that blur the boundary between bar and restaurant: nibbles and tipples are either partnered up, or served as stand-alone courses. Mixologists and chefs work alongside each other in the extremely compact hybrid bar/kitchen where edibles might be presented in a cocktail (absinthe and chocolate-infused plum in an oolong iced tea), and drinkables, on a plate (slurp-worthy, basil-infused olive-oil soup).

    Everything changes on a weekly basis but on our visit we started with a drop of Krug Champagne and a delicious water jelly garnish so delicate it looked like a bubble resting in the bottom of your coupe. Next up were juicy green tomatoes with basil and white peach – a reminder that not all vegetables need to be picture-perfect to taste great – and a dressing so delicious you’re encouraged to drink it from the bowl. Herbs are developed in the lab next door; a cheesy, creamy whey, usually discarded in the cheese-making process, is paired with ‘compost carrots’ and buffalo curd; and for pudding a delectable ice cream is produced from churned butter surplus. Each serving is a revelation.

    VERDICT

    Cub is relaxed, friendly and well-informed, and revolutionising London’s dining culture – one environmentally friendly step at a time.

    By Lauren Hepburn

    Address: Cub, 155 Hoxton Street, London N1 6PJ


    Telephone: +44 203 6933 202


    Website: lyancub.com

  • The best Shoreditch restaurants

    5. St Leonards

    Pared-back, primal cooking gets a refined edge

    There’s a lot of really good places to head to for supper in Shoreditch. And yet, new openings arrive with alarming regularity. One might even complain of too much choice in this London neighbourhood. But then, a restaurant like St Leonards opens: bright and grown-up with a huge open wood fire for cooking and where the concise, curated menu has the date printed on the top as a declaration of freshness and seasonality. Interiors in this huge dining room are urban and smart: lots of polished concrete and dark wood, no fussy details in sight. Dreamt up over a boozy lunch by chefs Andrew Clarke and Jackson Boxer (who met while working at Brunswick House), the concept marries fire (from that wood grill) and ice (from the raw bar), stripping cooking back to its primal beginnings.


    FOOD

    Everything on the menu is meant to be shared, from the small plates which arrive as soon as they’re ready from the ice bar to the hearty dishes cooked on the wood grill. Kick off with an oyster: they’re offered three ways – natural, dressed and flamed. Raw fish features heavily under the ‘small’ heading of the daily-changing menu. We tried plump chunks of wonderfully fresh salmon and seabass served beneath thin slices of burnt kohlrabi (a wild, surprisingly sweet cabbage). Unusual touches appear in classic dishes: burrata is served with cocoa beans, razor clams come with peas and raw mackerel is peppered with wild dandelion, but it all works. And while the fish is good – really good, even – the mains are better. Lamb chops cooked over that open fire come with peach and pickled mustard, black bream with fennel and lemon, and, our pick, a 60-day-aged longhorn sirloin. It’s a blushing steak that’s meant to serve two (but could easily serve three very hungry diners), best accompanied with hispi cabbage swathed in pork fat, and worth every calorie, and baked potatoes. For pudding, the rum baba with smoked pineapple is the standout, served with black treacle and anise ice cream and drowned in enough rum to act as a nightcap.

    DRINK

    The wine list includes 50 bottles under £50. We tried the Muscadet, a bottle the sommelier told us he had been dying to get on the menu for a while. And for good reason – the very dry taste matched the fish wonderfully for £32. Wines by the glass are reasonably priced too, and if you’re feeling flush, the list continues for several pages, with bottles from Italy, Spain, Portugal and France.

    VERDICT

    This is a Shoreditch restaurant made for long, winding suppers with friends or family, where dishes are indulgent and the experience of eating is as important as the food itself.

    By Sarah James


    Address: St Leonards, 70 Leonard Street, London EC2A 4QX


    Telephone: +44 20 7739 1291


    Website: stleonards.london

  • The best Shoreditch restaurants

    6. Lahpet

    Brilliant Burmese in East London

    From a stall on foodie-favourite Maltby Street to a pop-up under railway arches to a permanent bricks-and-mortar joint near buzzy Brick Lane, Lahpet has followed the perfect arc for a London restaurant start-up done good. Its bright and funky permanent space in Shoreditch – with lots of light wood, booths with plum-coloured leather and palm-printed windows. Owner Dan Anton, a former headhunter, is a quarter Burmese; the chef Zaw Mahesh fully so. They are part of the flurry of supper clubs and fresh-out-of-the-box restaurants that are bringing South-East Asia’s least familiar flavours to London’s keen foodies.

    FOOD

    If you haven’t yet made it to Myanmar, ease your way into the menu with Mandalay fritters, light and crispy parcels of kidney bean and ginger served with a tangy tamarind dip. A dish that wasn’t on the menu at Lahpet’s pop-up in London Fields is nicely spicy split-pea-stuffed parathas and the restaurant’s namesake lahpet thohk is an incredibly delicious, smoky, crunchy, spicy salad of tea leaf, red and white cabbage, chillies, dried shrimp, peanuts and heirloom tomatoes – a colourful highlight, for which Dan imports the pickled tea leaves straight from Myanmar. The dish that Burmese diners declared the most authentic when we visited was the fiery ginger gin thohk salad. There are also traditional mains of thick and tangy mohinga (fish chowder) and Shan noodle with ground chicken and mustard greens (like a Burmese bolognese). But what you won’t find back in the home country, Dan tells you, are dishes with a modern twist, such as hake masala with charred lime and lemongrass rösti, and slow-cooked lamb wrapped in those surprisingly tasty tea leaves with a rich sauce made for plate-licking.

    DRINK

    A bar lines one wall of the restaurant. On the cocktail menu: the Lahpet Sour is made with gin, Campari, orange, Earl Grey and strawberry jam, while the Jaggery Old Fashioned has a hint of marmalade and orange peel to balance out the booze. Not forgetting you’re in East London, craft beer is pretty much mandatory. Here the options include a Snake Charmer IPA ale from Whitechapel’s One Mile End Brewery and a Low Voltage session IPA ale from Brixton. Alternatively, keep it wholesome and on-trend with a zesty ginger kombucha.

    VERDICT

    Go now for fresh, unusual flavours served up by a lovely, young-gun crew.

    By Grainne McBride

    Address: Lahpet, 58 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6JW


    Telephone: +44 20 3883 5629


    Website: lahpet.co.uk

  • The best Shoreditch restaurants

    7. Dirty Bones

    Filthy meat and a dirty soundtrack to a Saturday night in East London

    It’s a wonder anyone finds Dirty Bones, camouflaged in the same Grade II-listed building as Beach Blanket Babylon (even Deliveroo drivers struggle). The neon-lit restaurant on Bethnal Green Road is the far more fun sister to the Kensington original and touristy Carnaby branch. Go towards the end of the week for live music and an education in hip hop that spans its funk and soul roots to the Golden Age. This place is about ridiculously calorific comfort food and good times – sit in a booth with your crew and watch everyone line their stomachs before a night on the town.

    FOOD

    Lip-smacking deep-fried macaroni-and-cheese balls are a sign of what follows. Order a bunch of dishes as a group for maximum effect: a whacking great sticky beef short rib, crispy fried chicken and waffles, baby back ribs and cheesey truffle fries are essential. For anyone mad enough, there’s a burger slathered in more mac-and-cheese – or flip it on its head with dumplings stuffed with burger mince and (more) cheese. You won’t want dessert.

    DRINK

    Still delicate from the night before? There is no more satisfying a Bloody Mary than the one here, served with a rim of sour cream Pringles. Otherwise get stuck into Dirty Faves such as the punchy Deputy Dog with tequila, blood orange liqueur, lime and mint, and the smooth Mutt’s Nuts with bourbon, maple syrup and Angostura bitters.

    VERDICT

    A comfort food hotspot where you’ll never feel out of place.

    By Hazel Lubbock

    Address: Dirty Bones, 1 Club Row, Shoreditch, London E1


    Telephone: +44 20 7920 6434


    Website: dirty-bones.com

  • The best Shoreditch restaurants

    8. Mãos

    A hush-hush East London supper-club from Nuno Mendes

    ‘Come on up the stairs,’ a voice tells you when you ring the buzzer at the mysterious-looking, gun-metal-grey building on Redchurch Street. Turns out that voice, and the first person you meet at the top of the stairs, is Nuno Mendes, executive chef at clubby Chiltern Firehouse and the man who brought a Michelin star to Bethnal Green at now-closed Viajante. But before all that, Mendes established himself on the London scene with a supper club in his own home that popped and crackled with molecular wizardy. He’s is back in the home kitchen again, well, sort of. It’s not technically his house (he lives up the road), but the idea is that he hosts just 16 people at a time as if they were at a private dinner party. And that’s certainly the way it feels – if your host’s kitchen happened to have sleek brushed-steel counters, the whizziest, bespoke Molteni stove and a crack team of the calmest, most focused young chefs around, headed by the charming Edoardo Pellicano.

    FOOD

    Mendes wants to retain an element of surprise about the 13-course menu (which changes all the time), so much so that he skirts around a question about a piece of meat hanging on a string above the little Japanese grill where a chef is smoking scallops in their shells alongside Douglas-fir twigs. ‘You’ll see.’ In the meantime, those scallops are the opening snack, a delicate diversion that you eat while making friends with your fellow diners in the kitchen. These are followed by ‘tacos’ of melting short rib wrapped in English wasabi leaves with wood ants that give a citrus hit far punchier than any exotic Australian finger lime. Tupperware boxes stacked on a shelf listing strange-sounding ingredients such as ‘turbot bones’ and ‘stab 2000’ add to the intrigue.

    And then you are all invited into the dining room, with its long slab of an oak table, rough-hewn ceramic water jugs and black Shaker-style chairs, and the sit-down part begins. (Although the lovely team tell you that you are free to wander from kitchen to dining room to wine room and eat wherever you wish. Later, they track us down in the kitchen with cutlery and red wine on hand so we can enjoy the main course among the cheffy hum). That main course turns out to be a jammy-briny combo of Ibérico-pork presa with pickled nukazuke carrots. And the incredible menu in between features elements such as reindeer moss, savoury Japanese chawanmushi egg custard, smoked kobe beef with the sweetest of English peas, and a superbly rich mouthful of bone marrow paired with pickled onion. Mendes riffs on a traditional Portuguese eggy farofias for dessert (smoked egg yolk shavings instead of cinnamon) and goes out with a mouth-tingling bang in a final pudding of cherry-stone ice cream with strawberries and Szechuan peppercorns – the most grown-up of popping candy.

    DRINK

    As at any great dinner party, the first drinks are served in the kitchen as everyone loosens their ties. From the chalked-down list of wines by the glass, a Lilbert-Fils Blanc de Blancs is creamy and refreshing. A few courses later, the lovely Sarah Papadimitriou (ex Hackney’s Laughing Heart) recommends a sensational white wine, La Banda del Argilico, from Castilla y Léon. That red with the main course is another smooth Spaniard, this time from the Rias Baixas. Happy guests hang around after the last plates have been cleared and order another bottle, even after Nuno has popped over to say goodnight. And then you remember you’re not back at his after all.

    VERDICT

    A dinner party with a twist that’s a real conversation starter.

    By Grainne McBride.

  • The best Shoreditch restaurants

    9. Red Rooster

    Harlem’s hottest table in Shoreditch

    Nothing about superstar chef Marcus Samuelsson’s first London restaurant is understated. The man who cooked for the Obamas at the White House is bringing flash, irreverent style straight from his Harlem HQ to Red Rooster, in the basement of Shoreditch’s hip Curtain hotel. The walls are covered in toile de jouy wallpaper with an NYC twist (an innocent-seeming pastoral scene until you look closely and see 18th-century gentlemen shooting hoops), as well as black-and-white photographs of dapper Harlemites, a kaleidoscopic portrait by Moroccan artist Hassan Hajjaj framed in upcycled Seven-Up and Fanta cans, and even an abstract piece given to Alex Bossi (the chipper American who handpicked all the restaurant’s art) by an Uber driver from Bethnal Green. There’s live music six nights a week – from gospel choirs to jazz – and the whole place crackles with fun-loving energy until well past midnight.

    FOOD

    Big, fat wodges of cornbread come hot to be slathered in honey butter and tomato jam; black kale and spring pea salad is crunchy and nutty and doused in Caesar dressing. The most popular dish at the Harlem outpost, fried yard bird, is presented on a floral plate as if plucked straight from Grandma’s dresser: two pieces of buttermilk-soaked, deep-fried chicken to be nibbled right down to the bone with yam purée, greens and a hot-hot-hot sauce. An unfamiliar side of succotash – which you can’t help ordering if you remember the catchphrase of Looney Tunes’ Sylvester the Cat – is a delicious serving of asparagus, fava beans and charred corn with a chilli-butter kick. The portions verge on American size but if you can find space, finish off with a drunken doughnut topped with bourbon and salted-caramel ice cream. And then go and have a lie down.

    DRINK

    The drinks are so good even the ‘Sober’ cocktails have punch (try the Rooster Juice with cold-brew tea and jerk syrup). Staff with sequinned denim waistcoats mix them up from behind the central bar. Ease yourself in with a peppy Madame Baker, with lemon vodka, St-Germain, Chablis, burlesque bitters and soda, or go hard with a Harlem Hellfighter (Calvados, grapefruit, red and green bitters, and beer).

    VERDICT

    Soulful Southern-comfort food served up with a generous dollop of New York enthusiasm.

    By Grainne McBride

    Address: Red Rooster Shoreditch, The Curtain, 45 Curtain Road, Shoreditch, London EC2A 4PT


    Telephone: +44 20 3146 4545


    Website: @RedRooster_LDN ; thecurtain.com

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  • The best Shoreditch restaurants

    10. Popolo

    An Italian-Spanish-Moorish combo in the heart of Shoreditch

    When a five-times-world-kickboxing-champ-turned-chef with a crooked nose and a cheeky smile recommends you try his favourite dish on the menu, you don’t say no. Jon Lawson (who trained under River Café legend Theo Randall) opened his tiny Mediterranean-inspired, small-plates restaurant in the hipster HQ of East London, and it quickly became a favourite neighbourhood haunt. Sure, the grey-and-concrete industrial-style interiors may scream Shoreditch, but the happy hubbub of staff shouting orders in Spanish makes it feel like a hugger-mugger pinxtos bar in San Sebastian. Sit at the counter facing the all-action open kitchen and let the front-of-house staff look after you.

    FOOD

    That dish Jon insists you try? A snack of labneh, chickpeas, chilli and olives. It’s rich and smooth yet also crunchy, with a surprise briny hit when the deep-fried olive explodes in your mouth. And that’s just for starters. Italian is the main focus of the menu – but with Spanish and Middle-Eastern influences – so pasta, handmade in-house, is a highlight. Here nettle-and-ricotta ravioli come big and plump and packed with filling; taglierni with Devon crab is deliciously spiked with fennel. There are also fat Italian langoustines that turn pink and charred before your eyes on the flame-grill, and a melting rump of lamb with a rib-sticking, Moroccan-spiced aubergine stew. But the standout dish arrives last: burnt-honey panna cotta with strawberries has a perfect wobble and just a hint of thyme. Don’t bother with the polite pretence of sharing.

    DRINK

    There’s a changing selection of wines each month, with a heavy leaning towards natural vintages. Start with a glass of sparkling Franciacorta from Italy (a more fun and interesting fizz than Prosecco) before a gutsy Auriel Barbera and a lovely Spanish Fior de Narcea sweet wine with pudding.

    VERDICT

    Purists be damned. This glorious fusion of flavours just works.

    By Grainne McBride

    Address: Popolo, 26 Rivington St, London EC2A 3DU


    Telephone: +44 20 7729 4299


    Website: popoloshoreditch.com

  • The best Shoreditch restaurants

    11. Smokestak

    Sizzling-hot barbecue joint off Brick Lane

    You may have seen the queues for Smokestak snaking through food markets (Dinerama, Street Feast) across the capital, and the smell of barbecued meaty gloriousness is hard to forget. The food truck opened its first restaurant just off Brick Lane a few years ago. It’s a real passion project: chef-patron David Carter who worked at Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s before moving to Texas and buying a 4.5-tonne smoker to master the art of barbecuing. Smokestak’s cool interiors are as industrial as the smoker itself, with black-carbon-stained concrete walls, steel panelling and old workshop tops used as dining tables. A charcoal grill and a wood-burning smoker sit in the middle of the fiery open kitchen. Roller-shutter garage doors reveal an outdoor terrace with tables for the summer months.

    FOOD

    The smoke-fuelled menu has grown-up versions of old favourites, such as mouth-wateringly tender brisket buns with pickled red chilli and thick-cut pork ribs with pickled cucumber. Dishes include smoked girolles with beef-dripping toast; pastrami with sour cabbage and pickles; and hot-smoked salmon with rye and creamy horseradish.

    Vegetarians are not ignored: salt-baked beetroot with goat’s cheese and hazelnuts, and a roasted aubergine with toasted cashew nuts and burnt honey’ are equally impressive. And sides include celery, almond and preserved lemon slaw; heritage tomatoes with toasted pine nuts; and jacket potato with smoked rarebit. A plum crumble or sticky toffee pudding with burnt-butter ice-cream will leave you feeling sweetly satisfied.

    DRINK

    Don’t go straight to your table: the candle-lit cellar bar has the same drinks menu in a more moody setting, with a reclaimed Yorkshire stone floor and oak-beam ceiling. Beers are local – IPA from Bermondsey, Dalston and Chiswick – and cocktails are smoky, sour and medicinal. The Penicillin with Scotch, peat, lemon, honey and ginger is enough to cure. Ox cheek (crispy on the outside, succulent on the inside) and posh pork scratchings make dangerously moreish bar snacks.

    VERDICT

    Smokey barbecue from street food kingpins.

    By Alice Riley-Smith

    Address: Smokestak, 35 Sclater Street, Shoreditch, London E1


    Telephone: +44 20 3873 1733


    Website: smokestak.co.uk

  • The best Shoreditch restaurants

    12. Sardine

    French Revolution in the East End

    Rustic French food is having a moment in London, with critics going gaga for croque madame and chocolate mousse. One of its most exciting outposts sits in an unlikely spot behind the McDonald’s drive-thru on City Road. Choreographing the wood-fired cooking in the open kitchen is ex-Dock Kitchen and Rotorino chef Alex Jackson, and what he did with Italian regional dishes at the latter Dalston neighbourhood joint he is doing here with the flavours of southern France. The humming little dining room is brightened up with pastel-coloured tiles and a curious mural of winches and pulleys.

    FOOD

    A bowl of fresh peas in pods is delivered to the table straight away to crunch on while you choose from a menu of deceptively simple dishes. Yet the flavours here are huge: crunchy pink radishes with crème fraîche and umami-ish bottarga; an artichoke-sprinkled salad Niçoise with tomatoes that taste of Riviera sunshine; tender lamb (you can see the leg hanging over burning wood in the open kitchen) with garlicky, creamy-white beans; crispy-skinned sea bass with aioli and squash; apricot and brown butter tart with the thinnest, flaky-light pastry.

    DRINK

    Sit at the bar beneath the white-neon Sardine sign for cocktails, including Negroni Jaune with gin, Suze, vermouth and pear, or keep the French vibe going with a rustic carafe of crisp Jurançon Sec from the Pyrenees. But really on a woozy London heat-wave evening nothing beats an aperitif of chilled rosé to whisk you off momentarily to Provence.

    VERDICT

    A buzzy French hotspot serving up rustic dishes.

    By Grainne McBride

    Address: Sardine, 15 Micawber Street, Shoreditch, London N1


    Telephone: +44 20 7490 0144


    Website: sardine.london

  • The best Shoreditch restaurants

    13. Blanchette East

    Bon viveur French impressionist

    Hard to miss her, reclining shamelessly in the altogether and smouldering come-hither looks out of the window. Art lovers, of course, will recognise her as Ingres’s La Grande Odalisque, painted larger-than-life above the bar at this French restaurant in London’s spicy Brick Lane arrondisement. Set behind a pistachio-green frontage, Blanchette East is the work of the three Alary brothers – Maxime, Yanis and Malik – who opened the original, much-loved Blanchette in Soho in 2013. It has twinkly candles, bentwood chairs and brocante finds. The down-to-earth staff pirouette between close-knit tables, while hoots of laughter emanate from the velvet-draped private table at the rear.

    FOOD

    No dirty burgers here, though there’s a lobster and salmon slider that will disappear in seconds. It’s all small plates, of course, on a menu that delves around the French Mediterranean with occasional forays down to North Africa. Highlights? The squid ‘en Persillade’ has a delicious inky palette to paint around the plate with sourdough; the onglet comes bobbled with herby snails (order the crispy frog’s legs and croque monsieur for the full moustache-twirling experience); the lamb tagine is a pot of rich, sweet/sour loveliness, best paired with saffron couscous. For pudding, the basil sorbet with fresh mango was an intense hit of palate-cleansing herby freshness. Don’t stint on the boards of cheese and charcuterie either, as both are impeccably sourced. If truth be told, you can eat better French food here than at most bistros in the motherland – it’s a condensed pocket of flavour for an escapist evening out East.

    DRINK

    Start with a French Kiss (vodka, Chambord, squeezed lemon, raspberry syrup, egg white) then order a couple of carafes from the (mainly French) wine list. There’s also a list of after-dinner cocktails (maybe skip pudding to avoid a total sugar rush?): the salted-caramel Martini, laced with double cream and nuts, will have you flirting with Odalisque on the way out.

    VERDICT

    Down-to-earth French food in a close-quarters setting.

    By Rick Jordan


  • The best Shoreditch restaurants

    14. Sagardi

    Like-Grandma-used-to-make Basque cooking on Curtain Road

    This is the first European opening outside Spain of the hit Basque Country restaurant chain that has carved out a niche for its simple, traditional cooking. With huge sides of beef hanging behind the glass, the butcher shop is the first thing to ogle when you enter this Shoreditch outpost. To the right is the pintxo bar, where people linger over glasses of wine and the cocktail-stick-spiked Basque snacks – although the atmosphere here is a tad more reserved and British than the jovial bun-fight you find in a packed pintxo bar in San Sebastián. With low lighting, chunky wooden tables and lots of iron and stone, the dining room feels very masculine – fitting in a place where flaming aged beef is the main draw.

    FOOD

    Before cutting straight to the steak, it’s worth scoping out the rest of the menu: plump portions of morcilla (black pudding), made with rice so it’s lighter and more crumbly than its UK cousin, served on red piquillo peppers; a standout Spanish heirloom tomato salad, with four different types – yellow, pink, ruby and claret-coloured – doused in olive oil, white-wine vinegar and green chillies. The txuletón cut of ciderhouse steak comes fire-grilled, juicy and pink, in neat slices beside the bone (take it home to make a meaty stock). End with peaches poached until caramelly in a traditional txakoli-white-wine syrup.

    DRINK

    Order a generous G&T, mixed by the barman at your table, or choose a delicious Tempranillo from the huge wine cabinet that spans the back wall. Alternatively, for an element of fun, opt for a porrón of wine, a glass jug from which the liquid is poured straight into your mouth. The trick is not to spill any down your shirt after you’ve had a few.

    VERDICT

    A taste of Basque country in East London.

    By Grainne McBride

    Address: Sagardi, 95 Curtain Road, Shoreditch, London EC2


    Telephone: +44 20 3802 0478


    Website: sagardi.co.uk

  • The best Shoreditch restaurants

    15. BRAT

    The Basque-accented solo project from the trailblazing chef behind Kitty Fisher’s

    Read the full review in our round-up of the best restaurants in London

  • The best Shoreditch restaurants

    16. Gloria

    A kitsch take on a traditional trattoria that’s about to become big news

    Read the full review of Gloria Shoreditch

  • The best Shoreditch restaurants

    17. Daffodil Mulligan

    A clever destination from Irish super chef Richard Corrigan

    Read the full review in our round-up of the best restaurants in London

    Address: Daffodil Mulligan, 70-74 City Road, London EC1Y 2BJ


    Telephone: +44 20 7404 3000


    Website: daffodilmulligan.com

  • The best Shoreditch restaurants

    18. Lyle’s

    Fine dining in the best sense of the phrase

    Chef James Lowe has a CV that includes shifts at Noma in Copenhagen, London’s seminal St John Bread and Wine, and the oh-so-successful Ten Bells supper club, as part of the Young Turks collective where he worked with The Clove Club’s Isaac McHale. For his first solo venture it’s instantly clear that he’s pulled inspiration from all three stints. This is about as relaxed as a tasting-menu gets in a smart Scandi set-up. It occupies what was once a Lipton tea factory, opposite the Shoreditch BoxPark – the space is very white, and light, thanks to original warehouse windows. East End foodies sit at simple Ercol chairs, with views of the open kitchen in what appears to be the coolest supper club in town. The best bit? You can book, and stay as long as you like because there’s no turning tables.

    FOOD

    There is a set-menu but it doesn’t go on and on. Lowe dishes up four cleverly matched courses every evening with a couple of treats thrown in – a miniature slow-cooked lamb croquette with mint sauce is sensational, as is a hunk of sourdough with a salted, hand-whipped butter. The menu varies but could include perfect asparagus, grilled and sprinkled with walnuts and Spenwood cheese; fresh sashimi from seafood caught that day, or game from Yorkshire. Brill is served with a buttery whey foam and a couple of crushed Jersey Royals. Wild pea flowers are foraged in East London while Tom Adams (of Pitt Cue) supplies the pork – a Welsh Black collar might be paired with apple mustard and dandelion. There’s an option of an additional cheese course from London’s finest artisan dairy, Neal’s Yard. And for pudding the baked cream with rhubarb literally sparkles – evoking childhood sweet-shop nostalgia.

    DRINK

    An all-British list of beers includes East Sussex’s Burning Sky Saison à la Provision and a cheery Herefordshire Perry cider. In fact the only thing that isn’t British at Lyle’s is the coffee (roasting here is taken seriously) and the constantly changing wine list. Start with a delicate pink Eric Pfifferling from the Rhône and move on to the dry white Folle Blanche from the Loire which goes particularly well with fish. Both come in a carafe option. For something a little different try the Franz Weninger, a fruity Merlot from Hungary.

    VERDICT

    A tasting-menu (that doesn’t cost the earth) in a prime Shoreditch spot that’s actually worth the hype. Those not keen on a set-menu should head to Lyle’s at lunch when the menu is à la carte.

    By Tabitha Joyce

    Address: Lyle’s, Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High Street, London E1 6JJ


    Telephone: + 44 20 3011 5911


    Book online

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