Hoxton Street is a funny spot, the investment pounds that have cleaned up Shoreditch are only just beginning to extend into this rough-round-the-edges East London market street. We tried White Lyan, with it’s fully homemade cocktail menu and art-decor influenced interior just a few weeks ago, it was a great night out. Tonight, we headed just across the street to 100 Hoxton, a sharing platter style, asian/middle eastern fusion number, opened late last year by the same folks behind Zalouf’s, on Upper Street.
I’ll spare you commentary of the on-trend interior, concrete floors and welcoming ambience. (plenty of other reviews have covered that), and instead I’d like to excitedly report that 100 Hoxton has a really veg-friendly small plates menu. It starts with three all-veg numbers, pauses briefly while some meat and fish stuff happens, then continues with four veg sides which, frankly, read more like features than support acts.
We ordered pretty much everything veg on the menu after beginning with obligatory drinks. It was Friday, after all. Mine was a Lemongrass and Raspberry collins (pictured above, £8). It was a retro experience for me, in a way, reminding me of the boom in asian infused cocktail flavours in Sydney restaurants in the 00’s.
This was the first dish to arrive and, right away, any niggles about whether we’d chosen the right place (this was an un-researched trip), disappeared. The flatbread was homemade, spread with a perfectly smooth, beetroot dip and then smothered with crunchy veg, preserved lemon, fresh herbs and then with seeds that really mixed up the flavours and textures. It’s arrival signalled immediately that this was going to be a vibrant and creative meal. It was devoured.
When the other small plates began to arrive, the explosions of colour continued. For a moment I wondered if this would be more a visual than a taste sensation. Not so.
First: the burnt Aubergine (£6): The coconut sauce was thick and rich, I suspected it had a green-curry base to it as well. I’d never contemplated using that sort of sauce on, what was essentially a salad. It totally worked. The smokey aubergine wrapped in the exotic freshness of the coconut was warming and exciting. The rainbow beetroot another interesting touch.
The sweet potato salad (£6) took a similar surprising turn but with very different ingredients and flavour profile. The sharp sourness of the preserved lime contrasted the warm, homeyness of the sweet potato. Comfort, with a twist. Pomegranate and coriander leaves opened the dish up further.
Don’t you love it when corn gets creative? This charred corn (£4), taste of summer barbecue days, but was topped with a delicious mayo and parmesan, sprinkled with sunflower seeds. Again, a visual hit that delivered a rich kick to a stately veg base.
At risk of overdoing orange root veg, we also ordered the roast squash and quinoa salad. The squash was of bite sized chunks, and it and the avocado were surrounded with the creaminess of quinoa. It was a more subtle dish than the others we’d had so far, but still had a fresh yoghurt dressing. Feta and yogurt is such a wonderful combination: bitey yet creamy.
I’ve had a lot of roast potato sides of late. They are one of hands-man’s favourites. But these were a real surprise. I wondered if they had been roasted in sumac or coriander seeds. They had a seasoning I couldn’t quite place. Topped with poppy seeds, coriander leaves and yogurt, they underscored the fusion theme.
Oh and there was one more thing. A Cauliflower pakora (£4). A real mouthful: crispy on the outside, dense I’d have to guess more indian than asian flavoured inside.
This might look like a lot of food. And for three of us, it probably was. My one criticism of the meal was that as there’s a lot of richness going on. Every dish has a dressing, a cream or a sauce. At the same time, while certainly taking you on a fusion flavour journey, with some dishes, such as the Pakora, there could have been more punch.
My advice, be a little cautious on how much you order, and come back for more. And in a case of do what I say, not what I do: we ordered a dessert, which we really didn’t need.
A Panna cotta (£6), topped with luscious mango and candied chilli. Intensely sweet. Again, a real flavour bomb and clearly well thought through. I might come back one day and have it on an empty stomach!
We found 100 Hoxton to be a really great night out. The service was more than accommodating, friendly and honest and like the food, certainly unpretentious.
If you follow me in the kitchen, you probably are not surprised to hear I really loved the food at 100 Hoxton. This is the kind of thing I make at home: lots of veg, salads which combine flavour influences. Nuts and fresh herbs to add contrast and cut through richness. I can imagine that this sort of eating: more bold than refined, and perhaps to some, intense, probably isn’t for everyone, but this is Hoxton, which probably isn’t either.
100-102 Hoxton St,Hoxton, London N1 6SG
Phone: 020 7729 1444
Reviewer: Jared, June 6, 2014