Based a couple of doors down from Shoreditch House, Lyle’s is the new restaurant from a chap called James Lowe (he used to be part of the Young Turks who went on to open the Clove Club also in Shoreditch) and John Ogier.
With no sign outside, we walked past the place a couple of times before realising where it was. Inside was a bright and airy affair; plain white walls, concrete floor and wooden chairs that looked like they’d been stolen from a primary school. On our sunny Saturday night visit the restaurant looked beautiful, but I imagine on a chilly winter’s evening it could feel a bit cold and sterile.
Only the tasting menu was available for dinner so we err, opted for that. £39 for 6 courses did at least seem good value in comparison to recently opened Typing Room which was £55.
Some really good sliced sourdough with salty butter got things off to a great start. It’s not made on site apparently but it didn’t really matter as it tasted so ruddy delicious.
Three small nibbles started proceedings. I forgot to take a photo of the ‘asparagus and walnut mayonnaise’ but then again, I’m sure you can imagine what four perfectly grilled, buttery sticks of asparagus look like. They weren’t exactly life changing but very tasty never-the-less. The ‘blood cake and damson’ was pleasant enough but it was the ‘smoked eel and horseradish’ that was really impressive; it had the meaty and slightly spicy flavour of a hot dog which was divine. They could have been served on more flamboyant crockery though.
‘Mutton and turnip broth’ was our first proper course. The broth was full of meaty flavour which was most enjoyable but I was kind of hoping for actual pieces of mutton. The depth of flavour was certainly there but it didn’t have much substance.
Next up was the ‘spring greens, mussels and seaweed’ which was really simple yet really flavourful. The mussels were plump and well cooked and the charred wedge of cabbage beneath them was great. I could have done with a spoon to scoop up the creamy sauce though, or even some more bread to soak it up.
‘Dover sole, spinach and anchovy’ wasn’t much to look at it but it was a seriously tasty plate of food at least. The flesh of the sole was cooked beautifully but the skin was flabby which was the only let-down. The little dollop of anchovy emulsion was a delicious addition.
The next dish was a weird one; ‘baked Riseley and Chegworth leaves’. It was basically some melted cheese with a bowl of salad; pleasant at best, unimaginative at worst. Not much work (or cooking for that matter) had gone into it.
Our final course was dessert; ‘rhubarb and custard’ which was a little too simply presented for me. Don’t get me wrong, it tasted really good (although the dollop on top tasted like a vanilla cream not custard) but it was just so uninspiring to look at. Things finished on a high however with some little cakes, or ‘gluten-free brown butter cakes’ should I say, being served freshly out the oven. Crikey they were good.
So that was it – not a lot of food and all over so quickly, I genuinely left absolutely starving. Where was the meat? Or some side dishes? We actually went for a burger afterwards we were so hungry, which seemed such a shame as what little food we did munch on was really tasty. It’s a pretty restaurant too with great staff, but if you can’t fill up your diners then it all amounts to nothing. At lunch they offer an a la carte menu – perhaps that would be more filling?