It’s clear from the off that Andy Beynon is a bit of a showman. The kitchen is completely open, with the line between back and front of house obliterated in favour of a wide borderless arena. Despite his flair for theatre, it’s not high drama - rather, the team works calmly at one end, quietly presenting dinners with a run of fish focused dishes from smart butler’s trays.
Obviously concerned with the entire experience, Beynon has had a hand in everything from the menu and wines through to the decor and design. There are nods to the sea everywhere. Light spills through rippled glasses onto the polished, curved counter while shells punctuate its surface and are called upon for added effect when guests are asked to hold them up to their ear to illicit sounds of the ocean.
With only 18 seats, the whole thing feels exclusive and celebratory. The tasting menu ebbs and flows through its courses while Beynon works the room, ambling over to pour wine in his adopted role as sommelier too. He’s warm and funny, chatting to everyone individually throughout the evening.
In true east London style, there are some quirks here. A coriander lassi for one, that’s designed to confuse the palate and reconfigure the way you think about sweet and savoury flavours. Sure, it’s not going to be to everyone’s taste, but it’s also definitely not the same old same and it goes some way to proving this chef’s mind just doesn’t work like everyone else’s. Other things hold more crowd appeal, like a ball of ‘fish pie’ that’s rolled in fish scales and fried into a little texture tornado. Earlier on there are more classic dishes too, like a just-translucent, perfectly cooked scallop with cauliflower or a piece of beautiful trout wrapped in nori. Seaweed and salt water are both used in lieu of seasoning, and the resulting tasting menu is so closely knitted to the British shoreline and all its bounty that each dish feels gloriously organic in its creation - a true reflection of the season’s best.
With so much competition in London, restaurants need to stand out if they are in with a chance of success. Behind certainly does that and then some. Beynon is a man who holds his dishes lightly in his hand, presenting guests with an evening of edible alchemy.