James and Christie Brown, co-founders of The Blue Mountain School, have joined forces with chef Theo Clench to launch Cycene (meaning ‘kitchen’ in old English). If that’s too much information to digest in one go, allow us to elaborate. The Blue Mountain School is a shop and cultural space in Hackney and, until early 2022, was the home of Nuno Mendes’ restaurant Maos. It was a small operation, serving a mere 16 covers around a communal table for dinner, and has since closed. Cycene is Maos’ replacement, a slightly bigger offering that’s set over two floors, but still with the same desire to 'emulate the feeling of dinner in a private home'.
Theo is serving up a 10-course menu with a focus on seafood, seasonal produce and his time spent in east Asia and Australasia. Guests are invited to start with a drink and snacks in the ground floor bar, before moving into the literal kitchen (like the name) for their second course. The rest of the menu is served in the dining room which features heavily around bread, with one particular course served with a trio of butters. Snacks include Devon crab with white kombu on a green tartlet, while mains include the likes of mackerel with plum, shisho and dashi, as well as slow cooked turbot with sake, caviar and lettuce sauce.
The wine list has been put together by James Brown, while a range of kombuchas and ‘elixirs’ comprise the non-alcoholic drinks offering. Cocktails are also served in the bar, which include things like a Fig Negroni and a Burnt Old English as a twist on an Old Fashioned.
Finally, the much-expanded restaurant means that it can now age all its own meat and fish on site, while a private dining room is available to hire for parties of up to six people.