Best Restaurants in Shoreditch

Looking for a restaurant in Shoreditch? We’ve done the hard work so you don’t have to, and compiled a handy list of the best. Whatever your budget or taste, SquareMeal is here to help, with a selection of the best restaurants for every occasion. Read on for our pick of the best restaurants in Shoreditch.

Posted on 12 December 2018

Best Restaurants in Shoreditch

Squaremeal.co.uk has thousands of restaurant and bar reviews which are based on the experiences of the Squaremeal team and thousands of readers. In addition Squaremeal.co.uk features thousands of venues, interesting conference and business venues and Christmas party venues, as well as events throughout London and the UK. If you are an event organiser please contact us. We also feature articles about restaurants + bars, venues and events, Christmas parties and food and drink. Right now you are in section Best Shoreditch Restaurants. Hopefully you've found what you're looking for. 


The Frog Hoxton

The Frog Hoxton

£30 - £49
British

45-47 Hoxton Square, London, N1 6PB

MasterChef alumnus Adam Handling has moved his debut The Frog E1 restaurant from the Old Truman Brewery to a large, multi-purpose site on Hoxton Square.

His biggest operation yet, this Frog comprises a dining room, a buzzy basement bar called The Iron Stag and an adjoining coffee/beer shop called Bean & Wheat. As before, it’s kitted out with contemporary artwork and graffiti, while you’ll even find Handling’s blown-up face looming over you in the loos.

The food offering, too, remains reassuringly similar to the old address, including two multi-course tasting menus. Butter whipped with chicken fat, topped with crispy chicken skin and served with sourdough, was a particular highlight and typical of the high-octane combinations; we also loved the signature warm savoury doughnuts, oozing cheese and topped with a heavy dusting of earthy truffle. New additions include a crisp, lightly-spiced brown shrimp tartlet.

Desserts are intriguing and effective; we loved our white chocolate paired with refreshing cucumber and dill, a triumphant marriage of sweet and savoury. Cheeky cocktails such as the Scottish Porn Star (made with Irn Bru, no less) are impressive, but there are non-alcoholic sips available too, as well as vegetarian and vegan versions of the tasting menu. Our only complaint overall was the slightly disorganised (though very friendly) service.

If you enjoy your fine dining without white tablecloths and waistcoat-wearing waiters (the chefs serve up each course), we’d recommend leapfrogging your way to Hoxton.   

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Lyle

Lyle's

£50 - £79
British
One michelin star

The Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High Street, London, E1 6JJ

James Lowe of Lyle’s counts half the capital’s chefs and critics among his admirers – small wonder, since his stark, understated restaurant is a true original that dances to its own minimalist tune. Whether you’ll be nodding along is down to preference; we felt mildly chastised for not wishing to share and for requesting our filter coffee white (!), but came away wholeheartedly onside because Lowe’s beautifully rendered Michelin-starred food never fails to impress. Flavours are true, pure and intense, whether you’re grazing through the lunchtime small-plates menu or relishing the fixed-price evening deal. The former might range from lamb’s heart with gherkin, ramsons and capers to smoked eel with hispi cabbage and dulse seaweed, while the latter could take in mackerel with gooseberry and crab apple as well as a glorious seasonal plate of grouse with girolles and mulberries. Desserts are also on a roll at the moment: our caramel and espresso meringue almost trumped the signature treacle tart. To drink, expect some interesting picks from the new school of winemaking.

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Two Lights

Two Lights

£50 - £79
Modern European

28-30 Kingsland Road, London, E2 8AA

This third restaurant from the team behind critically-acclaimed The Clove Club, following the launch of Clerkenwell’s Luca in 2017 , is a casual, stripped back space with only a handful of covers. Two Lights gets its name from the national park in the US state of Maine, where Clove Club head chef Chase Lovecky was born.

Lovecky also heads up the kitchen here, serving a menu of what is touted as ‘modern American’ cuisine. However, we found the food offering to be more European, with playful injections of Asian influence. Take the katsu sando, a novel twist on the on-trend dish which swaps out the typical pork filling for a slab of dense fried sardine, coated in breadcrumbs and completed by a smattering of sharp pickled lettuce. Asian techniques are also seen elsewhere, via sashimi-style strips of flamed mackerel, given extra fattiness thanks to a slathering of bacon fat.

From the more conventional dishes, we loved our starting snack of ‘crab on beef fat chips’: served canapé-style, this dish consists of two proper, thick-cut, chip-shop style chips, elevated by their beef fat dripping and a hefty scoop of succulent shredded crab. A larger plate of sticky-glazed shortrib also impressed, melting on the tongue and well paired with husks of earthy grilled beetroot.  

The only bum note was pudding, with a slice of perfectly good custard tart let down by its overpowering smoked caramel sauce. With its extremely knowledgeable servers, ingredient-led dishes and a curated wine list which champions small producers from around the world, Two Lights is a restaurant for people who know (and love) their food – it’s safe to say, we’ve fallen head over heels. 

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Cay Tre Old Street

Cay Tre Old Street

£30 - £49
Vietnamese

301 Old Street, London, EC1V 9LA

Over the years, this Vietnamese eatery has established itself as an old faithful for the office workers, club kids and night owls of Shoreditch. It’s seen a few cosmetic changes (the current look features smooth white tables and monochromatic bamboo wall art), but it remains a modest enterprise that puts value to the fore. We’ve eaten our way around the menu and reckon that seafood is the top shout, be it a crispy Devon crab and glass noodle wrap, braised catfish clay pot or grilled monkfish with galangal, turmeric and dill cooked tableside. Meat eaters also have plenty to chew on, from spicy lamb neck curry or stewed pork belly with caramelised coconut juice and a hard-boiled egg to a ‘wokked’ pho loaded with braised beef shin, mustard greens and shimeji mushrooms. Yes, it’s busy (and noisy), but turnaround is steady, even with a brisk takeaway trade.

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The Clove Club

The Clove Club

£50 - £79
British
One michelin star

380 Old Street, London, EC1V 9LT

It’s all happened so quickly for The Clove Club. From supper club to pop-up to successfully crowdfunded launch in the space of three years, Isaac McHale’s Michelin-starred Shoreditch destination now rubs shoulders with the high flyers on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. It has achieved its success by doing things differently, such as adopting a pre-paid ‘ticketed’ booking system for dinner reservations (a first for London). The food’s experimental, with multi-course tasting menus promising a cavalcade of thrilling, enthralling and seriously on-point seasonal cooking along the lines of flamed mackerel with gooseberry and English mustard, Aylesbury duck ‘three ways’ (consommé, breast and smoked sausage) or apricot sorbet with burnt honey and bee pollen – all offered with imaginative wine pairings. Some find it precious, some too challenging, but nobody could fault McHale’s commitment. The dining room is chilled-out and surprisingly serene, with the bar even more so serving on-trend cocktails and racy snacks: we love the venison sausages with greengage ketchup and the buttermilk fried chicken with pine salt. In short, an unmissable one-off that chimes perfectly with cosmopolitan 21st-century London.

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Brat

Brat

£30 - £49
British

64 Shoreditch High Street, London, E1 6JJ

'Brat' is the Northumbrian vernacular for a turbot but it’s also a knowing wink from Tomos Parry. The Welshman won the Young British Foodie Chef of the Year award in 2014, wowed in his first head chef gig at Kitty Fisher’s in Mayfair and has opened his first solo restaurant in a former strip club in Shoreditch, with a logo whose font blends Celtic and Basque typefaces. While Kitty Fisher’s had David Cameron as its most famous regular, now it’s the likes of fashion designer Henry Holland and a nightly brigade of Parry’s curious chef peers (Fergus Henderson and Jeremy Lee on our visit) trouping up the stairs above Smoking Goat to see what all the fuss is about.

 

The house speciality turbot is cooked Basque-style in an iron cage over a wood grill until the flesh is almost melting; it’s already had more rave reviews than Hamilton but is a struggle for two people to finish, so we went instead for smaller plates followed by a beef chop. Some of the flavours were happy memories from Kitty Fisher’s – the smoked cod’s roe that is the perfection of taramasalata, piped on to a finger of toast like a savoury éclair; the almost gamey flavour of the beef – and some were new revelations: a sort of puffed-up naan bread slathered with oil, flecked with chives and draped with three intensely flavoured anchovies; oysters roasted to draw out their sweetness, topped with pickled seaweed.  

The flip side of the menu is printed with 35 wines by the glass, including seven sherries; there’s further fascination in the wine list proper. It is, without a doubt, very enjoyable cooking – Parry has an innate sense for how to extract the maximum natural flavour from high-quality ingredients – but what sets the place apart is the mood. The blurring of kitchen and dining room feels completely democratic, as to the eating counter and tables packed so closely they may as well be a communal bench, while right now the atmosphere crackles at that febrile pitch of diners who know they are in London’s hottest restaurant.

True, some may find the workshop machismo of cooking with fire in plain view a tad preposterous (it reminded us of Henry VIII’s kitchens at Hampton Court), and the sight of fanboy diners queueing up to congratulate Parry is cringe-inducing. But, overall, we were captivated by the spectacle.

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Red Rooster at The Curtain

Red Rooster at The Curtain

£30 - £49
North American

45 Curtain Road, London, EC2A 3PT

The polishing up of Shoreditch continues with the arrival of The Curtain hotel (just round the corner from the equally new Nobu Shoreditch). Although this luxe offering comes with a rooftop swimming pool, its in-house restaurant retains its Shoreditch cool with quirky decor and painfully cool staff. Red Rooster has a twin in New York’s Harlem and, like its NYC sibling, the Shoreditch menu is a celebration of America’s southern soul food, carried off with panache. We kick-started our evening with a trio of snacks including fish tacos, bacon-loaded popcorn and crumbly cornbread slathered with sweet honey butter and spicy tomato jam. We then moved on to a starter proper of meatballs served swimming in zingy pickled gravy and dotted with perfectly crisp bites of gnocchi. As Red Rooster’s name suggests, poultry is the star turn, but we mixed things up, skipping the fried yard bird and herb-roasted chicken for a helping of tender, spicy jerk pork and prawns, served with sweet coconut rice and chunks of juicy pineapple. Desserts are just as indulgent (rum-soaked doughnuts anyone?) and our slice of red velvet sponge, served with cream cheese sorbet and chocolate cremeux, was as sweet as can be. With brunch on Sunday and live music most evenings, Red Rooster is an impressive addition to the Shoreditch scene. With all that US soul food though, it’s just as well that The Curtain has a gym.  

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St John Bread & Wine

St John Bread & Wine

£30 - £49
British

94-96 Commercial Street, London, E1 6LZ

Proof that classic never goes out of fashion, this sparsely decorated canteen delivers "fantastic British food for adventurous eaters", according?to one reader. Whilst the acoustics might be poor, meaning you may need to shout to be heard, the more casual sibling of the mighty St John is still well worth experiencing for its "relaxed vibe", "impeccable service" and daily changing menu. Breakfast, cakes and pastries are always in demand here – one bite of the Old Spot bacon sandwich, chased by a sweet hit from one of the signature doughnuts, will explain why. But there's much more to explore on the full nose-to-tail line-up, from kohlrabi with brown shrimps and chervil via devilled kidneys or grilled mackerel with beetroot and horseradish to steamed lemon sponge or burnt vanilla cream. The sound but "pricey" all-French wine list kicks off with surprisingly good house selections by the glass.

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Leroy

Leroy

£30 - £49
French

18 Phipp Street, London, EC2A 4NU

This Shoreditch wine bar and restaurant comes from the team behind Hackney’s Ellory, which closed its doors in early 2018. Leroy was actually one of the nicknames the owners gave to Ellory, as many diners struggled to pronounce it correctly. This isn’t a carbon copy though, with the new site focusing more on wines and bistro-style food in the mould of a Parisian ‘cave’. A semi-open kitchen (with a few counter seats) turns out the likes of ricotta dumplings with peas and artichokes, and lamb sweetbreads with morel mushrooms and a nettle and wild garlic sauce. Desserts meanwhile, include chocolate mousse with hazelnuts, and poached rhubarb with milk ice cream. The real focus here though, is the 100 bin wine list full of international names, which is served alongside Leroy’s own-brand Vermouth. A worker’s set lunch is also available, at two courses for £16, and three for £20.

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Sager + Wilde Restaurant

Sager + Wilde Restaurant

£30 - £49
Modern European
Bars
Wine Bars

250 Paradise Row, London, E2 9LE

This wine-centric spot is just as cool as its trend-setting wine bar sister, Sager + Wilde on Hackney Road. Positioned just round the corner from Bethnal Green station, it’s joined by several other restaurants (including Arepa & Co) which all share a long dining terrace, making for a secluded, foodie community.

From the kitchen, you can expect a seasonally changing menu of on-trend European dishes, which are beautifully presented, and largely lean towards comfort food territory. On our dinnertime visit, we enjoyed a plate of sweet kohlrabi studded with fleshy crab, creating a bundle of sweetness, while silky ribbons of pappardelle matched with stomach-warming chunks of venison, is a perfect example of the ways in which Sager’s menu adapts with the seasons.

Expertly matched fine wines by the glass and bottle abound, naturally, with a separate, single bottle list adding extra interest and a strong selection of botanical cocktails inviting experimentation. Pricing angles this towards the middle of the market, while a classic interior of dark wooden chairs and gentle lighting reinforce this as a mature option for clued-up Londoners.

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Bistrotheque

Bistrotheque

£30 - £49
Modern European

23-27 Wadeson Street, London, E2 9DR

Once an insider’s secret on a seedy Bethnal Green backstreet, Bistrotheque has gone on to become a bona fide east London institution. Best known for its weekend brunch service, it’s always packed to the rafters and great raucous fun, thanks to the colourfully coiffed house pianist and decent nosh (plates of pancakes with poached rhubarb and pork chops with layered potatoes do it for us) and even better cocktails. The decor “just stays cool” and the clientele is a veritable Who’s Who of modern east London, with a host of designers, architects, artists and assorted locals using it for nibbles, drinks at the “magnificent” bar (“staff will make sure your glass is never empty”) and lively suppers – perhaps pressed lamb with spring vegetables, cod with romesco sauce, caramelised tomato tart with burrata or “the best steak tartare in the east End”. The food’s good, but the ambience is “amazing”.

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Tramshed

Tramshed

£30 - £49
British

32 Rivington Street, London, EC2A 3LX

Curious passers-by peer through the window to catch a glimpse of Damien Hirst’s ‘Cock and Bull’ installation housed in chef/art collector Mark Hix’s Tramshed. They should brave it and go on in; allcomers are welcome at this cavernous industrial space where Hix serves seriously sourced chicken and steak – crowd-pleasers both – to solo diners at the bar, rowdy parties in capacious booths, and everyone in between. In less capable hands, Tramshed would be a fail-safe ‘yawn’ of a concept, but Hix’s menu goes beyond salt-aged Glenarm beef and roast barn-reared chooks into lively international territory. To wit, whipped chicken livers served with an enormous duck-fat Yorkshire pud (as a British alternative to brioche), American-style bone-in rib and slaw, a fearsomely hot curry, and a no-airs-and-graces raspberry cheesecake – not that anything will lure the lunchtime crowd away from their steak sandwiches. Wines and cocktails are credible rather than posey.

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Hoi Polloi at Ace Hotel

Hoi Polloi at Ace Hotel

£30 - £49
Modern European

100 Shoreditch High Street, London, E1 6JQ

‘An English modernist brasserie’ was the brief for this super-stylish all-dayer at the Ace Hotel, and the guys from Universal Design Studio really nailed it: nerds will find much to fawn over and fondle here, from timber walls to Ercol Butterfly chairs and Castiglioni ‘Snoopy’ lamps. You can enter via the ‘secret entrance’ in the florists, but we suggest using the adjacent hotel lobby for a better appraisal of the scene. It’s invariably buzzing here, with a seemingly endless supply of beautiful creatives lured in by Hoi Polloi’s fashion-conscious offer. Breakfast brings chia-seed Bircher muesli, lunch sees soft-shell crab rolls and teatime means cute googly-eyed fancies. Dinner heralds a more ambitious repertoire, from pretty plates of blackened sea trout with macerated fennel, or dry-aged pork chop with broad beans, peas and wild mushrooms, to pistachio and raspberry Eton mess. Cocktail hour is never dull, and we’re pleased that service seems to be on the up.

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The Marksman

The Marksman

£30 - £49
Gastropub
One michelin star

254 Hackney Road, London, E2 7SJ

This stylish born-again boozer is a co-creation from chefs Tom Harris (ex-St John) and Jon Rotheram (ex-Fifteen). They've gone with tradition on the ground floor, refurbishing the bar, but upstairs you'll find a highly original dining room with a woven ceiling and zany lino floor in primary colours. One menu is served throughout, with signatures such as kid goat curry, beef and barley bun or honey and brown butter tart alongside less attention-grabbing (but delicious) items including cod with leeks and brown crab or Tamworth pork with hispi cabbage and mustard. To drink, pick an Old World wine or join the locals for a pint of Meantime Yakima Red. Handy for Columbia Road flower market on Sundays, when the pub serves brunch and roast lunches.

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Sagardi

Sagardi

£50 - £79
Steak
Spanish

Cordy House, 95 Curtain Road, London, EC2A 3BS

Massively popular in Spain, the Sagardi steakhouse chain has chosen Shoreditch to open its first London branch. But this is no routine grilled-beef joint – the gastronomic hotspot of The Basque Country provides the culinary know-how behind the menu. The capacious dining room can seat more than 140, yet the dark-wood and slate interiors and leather-clad benches produce a warm, inviting atmosphere. As do the staff, who are keen to provide pairing suggestions for each course from the Basque-focused wine list. Charcuterie and pintxos (Basque tapas) account for starters. We began with moreish ham croquettes, plus some spicy grilled morcilla (black pudding) before the main act. Txuletón is what to order here: steak from cattle that are at least six years old, which is then seared on a Basque-style grill (over an oak-wood fire). The massive 800g cut we enjoyed is initially served medium-rare, with staff happy to cook it for longer if required – but our beautifully tender slab needed no extra grill-time. Sides of spiced potato wedges and salad make ideal accompaniments. Grilled fish is also an option, and the list of ‘grandma’s home cooking’ Basque dishes shouldn’t be ignored: braised lamb’s trotters in Biscay sauce, perhaps. Desserts stick to Basque country traditions too, and we loved the melt-in-the-mouth goxua sponge cake. Is there space for another steakhouse chain in London? Given Sagardi’s singular contribution to the genre our answer is ‘yes’ – or, as the Basques would say, ‘bai!’

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Gloria

Gloria

Under £30
Italian

54-56 Great Eastern Street, London, EC2A 3QR

Few restaurants successfully manage to transport you back in time without feeling like a clichéd relic from an earlier era, but this UK debut from French hospitality group Big Mamma does just that. Despite its Gallic roots, Gloria’s shtick is Italian food, billing itself as a ‘70s Capri-style trattoria’.

A tiny bar area leads into a buzzy dining room decked out in the kind of flowers, wicker furniture and other faux-distressed details that make Gloria feel like it’s been around for years. There’s another dining room in the basement, this time with a mirrored ceiling and ruched drapes that feel more like an old-school Parisian bistro, although it’s so dimly lit that you’ll need your phone torch to decipher the menu; we’d recommend you book upstairs if you’re eating during daylight hours.

The food at Gloria is, in a word, extra. The menu ripples with over-the-top, Instagram-baiting versions of Italian classics – think a lasagne which is ten layers high, or a slab of lemon meringue pie which looks like it could do serious damage to the Titanic.

Beyond the frivolity, though, there is skill. Pasta al tartufo involves bouncy ribbons of house-made malfadine pasta, rubbed with mascarpone and flecked with black truffle shavings and button mushrooms. We also loved the profiterole Napoletana – a single, gleefully rich giant profiterole which swaps out the traditional cream filling for ice cream, topped with lashings of warm chocolate sauce.

Gloria’s quirkiness – including mismatched crockery and naming a dish ‘Brexit-alia truffle’ – might prove irritating to some, but its infectiously vivacious atmosphere completely charmed us.

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Blanchette Brick Lane

Blanchette Brick Lane

£30 - £49
French

204 Brick Lane, London, E1 6SA

A sister to Blanchette Soho, this casual, pretty French restaurant from the Alary brothers makes culinary detours to North Africa. As with Soho, the restaurant is decorated with murals by Aldo Gigli, with a large, Belle Époque-style female nude dominating the bar. Diners can perch here for an eyeful, or take a wooden seat in the rear dining room amid stripped-back, rustic minimalism.

The menu kicks off with superb bar snacks including bouncy, moreish cheese beignets, as well as deep-fried frog’s legs, worth ordering for the tomato tang of bois boudran sauce alone – this is a great spot for a casual drink. Sharing is encouraged, so a variety of French charcuterie and cheese is followed by small plates including seared onglet steak with snails, moist lumps of monkfish vibrantly underlined with smoked aubergine and tomato bursts, and an apricot-stuffed lamb tagine paired with the silky tang of lebna.

Almost half of the Old-World wine list is available by the glass and, like the food, represents strong value for money. With such excellent cooking and cool, laid-back service, Blanchette East deserves to generate some Brick Lane buzz.   

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Nobu Shoreditch

Nobu Shoreditch

£50 - £79
South American
Japanese

10-50 Willow Street, London, EC2A 4BH

It’s 20 years since London’s first Nobu launched on Park Lane and almost as long since Shoreditch became a destination with a ragtag of cooler-than-thou bars clustered around Old Street. Now the two worlds collide with the launch of the Nobu Hotel Shoreditch. Come for quieter lunches and weekend brunches to appreciate the calm beauty of the design. A long staircase leads down to a dramatically high-ceilinged, concrete-lined space of glass walls and gauzy curtains, tricked out in 90s neutrals and with a four-stepped terrace leading off the large bar area for when it’s not raining. Inside, it’s raining men: we spotted a total of four female diners hidden among the big tables of City boys of every age group. A menu that’s about half the size of Nobu London’s nods towards time-pressed City diners and touts the brand’s greatest hits, from black cod with miso to yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño.  Springy rock shrimp tempura encased in light batter and slicked in addictive creamy jalapeño sauce, and crisp tacos stuffed with lobster smeared in wasabi mayo, do the classics proud, while ‘Shoreditch specials’ include excellent pork belly with a beautifully balanced spicy miso caramel sauce. For pud, squidgy mochi cakes are perhaps more of an acquired taste, while a chocolate orb twice failed to melt on cue under its torrent of hot sauce. Cynics may carp that the arrival of one of the world’s foremost luxury lifestyle brands in EC2 shows how corporate the Shoreditch scene has become, but Square Mile diners will be thrilled to have somewhere on their doorstep with such a palpable frisson of global glamour.

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St Leonard

St Leonard's

£30 - £49
Modern European

70 Leonard Street, EC2A 4QX

St Leonard’s is the latest collaboration from chef duo Jackson Boxer and Andrew Clarke, who oversee Brunswick House in Vauxhall. Butch, austere interiors involving an abundance of polished concrete look the Shoreditch part, while as at nearby Brat, St Leonard’s is a homage to flame-licked cooking, with an impressive wood-burning hearth tended to by a brigade of extravagantly tattooed chefs.

The menu of grilled meat, fish and veg reads simply but soon reveals its complexities. Take a dish of ‘flamed oyster’, in which the intensely smoky shellfish arrive flame-grilled under a heap of crisp, lardo-soaked fried breadcrumbs. Elsewhere, a daringly sweet set custard is topped with luscious foie gras and slivers of silky smoked eel, then finished with a swirl of crunchy chicharrones (fried pork rind).

Not everything is so successful. A small plate of golden beetroot topped with almonds and crème fraiche felt dull, while a dish of thick-cut, smoky pork jowl was too fatty to be enjoyable. There was no faulting side dishes, though, especially blackened hispi cabbage, dipped in pork fat and topped with a scattering of breadcrumbs.

Desserts are more conventional, but still impress. We were particularly taken with a sherry-injected salted caramel tart, perfectly offset with cardamom ice cream. If you prefer to finish your meal with a drink, head to the bar where you’ll find a 200-bin wine list available by the glass or carafe. Despite a few small missteps, we think St Leonard’s is well on its way to becoming a classic.      

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Tratra

Tratra

£30 - £49
French

Boundary Hotel, 2-4 Boundary Street, London, E2 7DD

The Boundary hotel has long been one of the more civilised eating options in the maelstrom around Shoreditch High Street and owner Sir Terence Conran has updated the restaurant’s French theme by installing chef Stéphane Reynaud in the kitchen. Reynaud is the charcuterie king of France, raised in a family of pig farmers in the Ardèche and now spreading the porcine gospel through his nine cookbooks (including The Book of Tripe) and his two Paris restaurants. But while terrines, charcuterie and other piggy pleasures take centre stage – from a fabulous board of deep-flavoured cold cuts to a lip-smackingly sticky plate of suckling-pig sausage with dates and mash – there’s plenty for non-meat eaters to enjoy, whether a bowl of crisply fresh crudités with classy dips or slow-braised squid and toasted peanuts that gives the meat dishes a run for their money for richness. To finish, there’s a dimpled salted caramel pudding soaking up a bowl of custard; to drink, a snappy wine list, culled on a weekly basis from the hotel’s extensive cellar and neatly divided by style. Looks-wise, the dining room is much the same as before, a long, low basement vault, with bare brick walls supporting high ceilings, furnished with natty red chairs and understandably less appealing on a bright day than the hotel’s Boundary Rooftop. The charming staff, at least, do their best to bring the sunshine.

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Merchants Tavern

Merchants Tavern

£30 - £49
Modern European

36 Charlotte Road, London, EC2A 3PG

The converted Victorian warehouse that houses Angela Hartnett’s Merchants Tavern used to be trailblazing Cantaloupe back in the 1990s. Some of the diners occupying its curvy leather booths might well recall those days, though they’re grown-ups now, schmoozing clients and drinking better wine. The kitchen's “solid combos” appeal to the assembled company: credible rather than cool, their classical foundations are leavened with contemporary touches and true seasonal flavours.

Some dishes, such as the “dynamite” deep-fried oysters with chilli and ginger or quail with hazelnut pesto and foie gras live up to their promise, while others verge on the “polite”: our sea bream with heritage carrots and preserved lemon was one such creation, although a brown-bread parfait with kirsch-laced cherries was impeccable. For an even more relaxed vibe, eat at the kitchen counter or hit the bar for sausage rolls and cool cocktails. “These guys are good”, affirms one reader.

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Smokestak

Smokestak

£30 - £49
North American

35 Sclater Street, London, E1 6LB

Discreetly housed in Shoreditch (the signage is hardly visible) is this BBQ smokehouse from David Carter, former front of house manager for Roka and Gordon Ramsay. The industrial, brooding two-floor site features an open kitchen on the ground floor and a bar below, with dark and moody interiors matching the young and bearded Shoreditch crowd. Food-wise, the menu is short with small plates and sharing dishes of grilled meats, with everything being served when ready. The kitchen delivers: our starting snack of crackled pig’s tail was so crispy and juicy that we asked for a second round; smoked girolle and beef-dripping toast was rich and gloriously messy; chunky, sticky and seriously tender pork ribs are paired with a cheese-slathered jacket potato. If you’ve got a sickly-sweet tooth, round it all off with the sticky toffee pudding, topped with burnt-butter ice cream. Staff are well-trained and the bartenders make a mean cocktail (we recommend the Plantation), or there are Dalston-brewed craft beers. Our only gripe is with the inconveniently placed toilets, which take the ‘industrial’ theme a little too far. Nevertheless, cracking food and pocket-friendly prices make this a smoking hot (sorry) debut for Carter.

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