Challenging and satisfying gastronomy in the heart of Shoreditch
Category : Bar, Restaurant
| Cuisine : Modern European
Address : 70 Leonard Street, Shoreditch, London, EC2A 4QX, UNITED KINGDOM - Directions
Web : www.stleonards.london
Opening Times : Mon-Sat: 12pm-12am.
Closest Tube : Old Street
To the popular mind, kitchens are run autocratically by one chef who executes his vision with the same precision as a portrait painter. Each culinary inflection filters down through a hierarchy of sous chefs, commis chefs and line chefs so that a dish is the perfect manifestation of on person's will. St Leonards is patently not this type of restaurant. Choices are split between two chefs with wildly different approaches to food. Andrew Clarke is a big man with a big blond beard and Viking-like mien that cooks Vulcan-style over a red-brick forge complete with meat hooks whilst Jackson, compact and lissom, martials a raw bar with meticulous care.
Although the chefs rivet the attention from their performance stations in the far corner, the remainder of the restaurant is impeccably designed in the minimalist mode and deserves mention. As you enter, a large ovular bar peeks out from the walls, nearly joining the reception area, so that the room is gently divided between bar and dining area. Slate grey and industrial features abound, with touches of nature found in the beautiful dark wood tables and chairs, natural light peering in through floor-to-ceiling windows and a potted tree. After a dry gin martini, we were introduced to the wine list by sommelier Donald Edwards, who steered us in the direction of a few natural selections.
We found that they matched beautifully with the bold assemblage of food produced by Andrew and Jackson. A quartet of oysters arrive flamed with pork fat, gooseberry, cumin and pork rind before another set of raw oysters arrived dressed with blackcurrant, whitecurrant and blackcurrant leaf vinegar. It was pretty self-evident which chef was in charge of what. Vegetables skew to the muscular. Friggitelli peppers with smoked cod's roe and furikake evince powerful flavour. A side of hispi cabbage with pork fat and xo crumb could be a carnivorous main. Whilst on the subject, we weren't let down by a sirloin of 60 day highland beef with green peppercorn and laver. And the desserts were unmissable - particularly a salt caramel and east India sherry tart - of which we wished we'd ordered two.
Anyway, long story short, St Leonards is one of the most interesting restaurants in one of London's most interesting areas to eat. If you're in the east or ready to make the journey - we heartily recommend a visit to St Leonards.