A Nordic smokehouse and a Scandi inspired cafe. Two recent new openings which promised plenty of excellent veg-friendly food – we were immediately hooked.
Rök Smokehouse Soft Launch: Seasonal freshness and simplicity.
Rök Shoreditch was a long, narrow space with a small bar, tucked away on Curtain Road. On the very first day of the soft launch, some dishes were still being perfected, but we ordered everything veggie on the menu to try as much as we could. We weren’t entirely sure what was Nordic about ingredients like n’duja and watercress – but consultant chef Matt Young explained. “The menu is not expressly Nordic. We have instead set out to create a restaurant which follows the New Nordic Kitchen Manifesto, but makes use of British produce. In short, we are all about seasonal freshness and simplicity”.
Standout dishes were a fabulous charred broccoli salad with toasted seeds and tahini, and another salad of roasted beetroot, goats cheese and watercress, the grill again lending the beets a smoky depth of flavour. A cauliflower cheese was rich and oozing with sauce, although the sweet potato was a bit on the al dente side: teething problems which the opening week appears to have sorted out.
Of the pickles, our favourite was the crunchy sauerkraut – but perhaps the standout dish was the fabulous roasted peach with a crunchy almond crumble and a scoop of creme fraiche. The peach, roasted whole in the wood fired oven with a whisky honey glaze, was soft and tender and just sweet enough, with that note of slight bitterness from the char. And who can say no to a plate of crumble and cream?
Rök Smokehouse, Shoreditch: soft launch review
26 Curtain Road London EC2 3NQ
Reviewer: Felicity Spector, August 3, 2015
Lundenwic: Lunch at Aldwych just got Skandi
At Lundenwic, another tiny venue in the heart of London’s Aldwych, the Scandi influence is all about the design. Set up by Oliver Hiam and Dominic Handy, the pair behind the popular Scotchtails, the decor is pared back minimalism, all white walls and sleek lines. The menu is short but full of interest – there are four salads, huge toasted sandwiches, a tempting array of cakes, and coffee by Workshop. They’ve recruited the former Bob’s Lobster chef Matt Shea to design the food, and his expertise shows – there’s plenty here for vegetarians, from the salads to a sandwich stuffed with butternut squash, chermoula and preserved lemon, on bread by Balthazar.
£6 buys you a pretty generous small box of salads: I was more than happy with my mix of roasted butternut squash with chick peas, pearl barley with roasted and raw beetroot, and pickled peach with green beans, feta and hazelnuts. The desserts certainly lived up to expectations too: a little cherry frangipane slice was gorgeous, while a mini chocolate fondant managed to ooze perfectly: deep and rich with dark chocolate. Breakfasts, including a range of different porridges and some excellent plum compote with granola and yoghurt, looked tempting too.
The entrance to the cafe used to lead to a theatre: Oli points out the old mosaic lettering on the doorstep which still remains, almost intact. “YOU WANT BEST SEATS WE HAVE THEM”. I ate my lunch alfresco, in the nearby Lincolns Inn Fields. Best seat in the house.
Lundenwic Food + Coffee, Aldwych
45 Aldwych London WC2B 4DW
Reviewer: Felicity Spector, August 10, 2015