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149 Upper Street
This typically stark Scandi smokehouse is the result of Rök Shoreditch's success, offering the same fermented-and-fired formula. Nab the window seat for airy Upper Street spying, or head to the rear for a snugger corner near the open kitchen. Below The Smoke enthusiasts will appreciate a handful of muscular cocktails paired with a choice of pickled and flavoured veg – it's the Northern European way, you know. What follows is a refreshingly niche selection of flavours: scallops on a bed of n’duja and seaweed; water-bath-tender pork with pickled green apple and sauerkraut; barbecued cabbage with rice, macadamias and Sweden’s Västerbotten cheese. Piquant and sour flashes run through everything, so while coal-black sweet potato with crème fraiche or comfortingly rich potato gratin provide respite, this menu predominantly packs a punch. Desserts are conversely sweet and heavy (our wood-smoked peach was a sticky, juicy revelation), while the wine selection favours the Old World and, like the food, keeps things affordable. If word spreads, Rök will become a destination for adventurous foodies.
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149 Upper Street
Essex Road Station 520m
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Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 2
We'd been looking forward to this, the press reports were decent, the reviews on here for this and its Shoreditch sister look good, and it showed signs of being different .
But we were glad to leave after only an hour, and none of the eight dishes we ordered except the lauded scallop escaped being dull in the extreme. We arrived late afternoon to find a virtually empty restaurant, in a space that didn't look like anyone had made an effort to make it pleasant or comfortable, with no definite style. The menu we were given was very different from and much less interesting than the menu online, checked at lunchtime. Most of the tempting stuff wasn't being served. Nevertheless we chose 8 dishes - pretty much half the main menu- to make sure we left with a clear view of what they could do.
I'm not going to run through each of these dishes, for they all had the same problem; they just weren't interesting or flavoursome, had virtually no signs of a Scandinavian heritage and virtually nothing smoky. It was like a lunch in a staff canteen. There was nothing amongst the pickles, the starters, the mains or the sides to create an exception to this view- no clues anywhere that the person or persons cooking this food could design a dish, or cook interestingly or well. It was the worst meal we've had in a restaurant this year. I should say that so far this year we've spent about three weeks in Scandinavia, and whilst some of the meals we've eaten in remote areas there have been less than exciting they have all, without exception, been clearly better than this.
Service was OK, though the fact that we'd ordered , eaten, paid and left inside the hour might tell you that things were on the brisk side. Value is poor because there is no such thing as good value for poor food. But the bill was £87 with just two glasses of wine and no coffee or dessert. I'd much rather have kept the £87 and not been here, and its rare for me to leave a restaurant fretting about how much I've spent, since we love eating out and it's important to us.
Sorry, there's a whole raft of new-ish, contemporary restaurants in London that offer a great range of food experiences. We've been to quite a number now and I'm pleased to say have mostly come away happy and stimulated. Just not at Rok.
Food + drink: 4
My husband and I went to eat here on a Friday evening after work......we ate early so it was quiet when we arrived, but by the time we left, it was buzzing and a really great atmosphere. The staff were very friendly and helpful, happy to give us suggestions about what and how much to order. The food was excellent, and we especially enjoyed the starters, and shared a plate of charcuterie, and also the soused mackerel - wonderful. For the mains, I had the pork chop, and my husband the guinea fowl, and shared sides of gratin potato (rich but yummy!) and blackened cabbage - this was cold, but I think it was meant to be cold!! My disappointment with my pork was that as it was a chop, it was literally 50% fat, and just not enough meat! What I did have was good! This is the only reason I have only given 4 stars for the food! We shared a chocolate mousse and peanut butter icecream.....It was a really enjoyable evening, and would happily return.
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