Last night, awakened me to the fact that East London isn’t always so…well…you know…East London. It isn’t always just filled with designer bearded lads with folded up dark denim jeans working at tech start-ups.
East isn’t always just East and West isn’t always best (although being an avid west Londoner myself I’ve had previous misgivings and/or am biased).
I went on ‘date night’ with my boyfriend and to be honest usually he is the one to make the restaurant suggestions and book them and the rest – but this time I took the plunge and suggested the new kid on the Shoreditch block St Leonards.
We started with a bowel of macadamia nuts and cocktails. I am a stickler for good nuts, they need perfect crunch and perfect salt to nut ratio – these had both…
The menu itself is pretty much a selection of small sharing plates which I love (actually, hold that thought. I pretend to love it. I actually hate it. I hate sharing food as I am, in actual fact, by nature quite greedy. When someone suggests meeting for tapas for dinner I start seething. I try to go with the flow even though I am a complete toad and it try to be ‘fine with it’ but really, I have internal rage)
However, to start we shared the raw mackerel which, although had slightly too much soy butter for me, was phenomenal…fresh perfect mackerel and crisp dandelion leaves…delicious.
We then had smoked eel in foie gras custard which was rich and umptious also with a cherrystone clam with chili oil like I’ve never tasted.
(I am obsessed with spice, chillies, chilli oil, spicy sauce…you’ll catch on the more I post!)
My favourite starter however was the grilled leak and almond cream – light, silky smooth but still oozy and rich. The almond cream acted almost like melted cheese so it felt incredibly luxurious.
We then shared a monkfish (recommended for 2 people) for our main course. Fish was cooked to perfection, perhaps a whisper more of salt and a squeeze of lemon would have cut through a bit more. Instead we used the side salad dressing we ordered to act as the acidity. Was slightly too buttery for me – like the broccoli side we also ordered (however this is my personal preference).
The side salad leaves were from head chef and owner Jackson Boxer’s farm outside London called Pound Farm. I love that. I love the freshness and honesty of the ingredients, just like the restaurant itself.
However, the star of this East end production was undoubtedly the salted caramel tart which we finished with. A pudding SO good that we actually ordered a 2nd one straight after…actually no…mid way through our first.
We both agreed best pudding in London right now.
(side note – Pudding is my number 1. A necessity. However the only reason we ordered just 1 to share to begin with was because the other pudding we wanted was raw rum based. I’m a non-drinker so this for me can be an annoying problem to have with my favorite part of eating out. It is something I notice a lot in restaurants, that and bad limp selections of non-alcoholic beverages – however this wasn’t the case here but again something I’m sure I will comment on at some point!)
The restaurant vibe itself was cool and ‘trendy’ (a word I hope is still used!). A wafty warehouse space with cutting edge woodwork furniture and foliage everywhere. A bar area which I can imagine could get a bit rowdy and slightly distracting BUT excitingly had its own bar menu so a definite reason to go back…
In short – St Leonard’s is delicious. Passion, skill and drive were clearly demonstrated in each dish on each stoneware plate. Added bonuses were its hip vibes and creative chef and founder Jackson Boxer who looked just as cool as the cucumber served in the non-alcoholic cocktails.
5 starters/small plates
1 main with 2 sides
2 Non alcoholic cocktails + macadamia nuts
1 bottle sparkling water
Total: £137 (they took espressos off the bill as they were delayed so would have been £150)
Rating (0 -5) ***