I had such a fabulous meal at the original Rochelle Canteen in Shoreditch. It’s the simple, unpretentious cooking they offer that I long for more and more these days, especially as the weather turns crap.
Good news then that it’s the same no-nonsense affair at Arnold and Henderson’s second restaurant at the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Arts). It’s a simple, white-filled, lofty-warehouse space which is a little breezy but there are blankets should you need.
To start, skate cheeks (£8) are fried and encased in an impossibly light batter. Homemade tartare sauce is zingy. Simple perfection. Grilled quail and aioli (£9.50) again doesn’t mess about. The meat is soft while parts of the skin are blackened from the grill.
Buffallo mozzarella on toast (£8.50) is made more comforting than refreshing with roasted tomatoes. On a blustery day this is just the ticket.
Chicken and smoked bacon pie (£15.50) will get the boring “it’s not a pie if it doesn’t have a pastry bottom!” people frothing at the mouth. I, however, couldn’t care less. This suet pie lid covered a dish of soft chicken and thick bacon lardons is the finest example of pastry I’ve come across. A must order.
Beef shin with celeriac mash (£16) is a hearty portion; rich and comforting. My old mate Jay Rayner sums it up best in his review: “These are big-boned dishes, made of ingredients that taste of something, served in platefuls designed for appetite rather than photography.”.
There’s just one dud in our entire meal. Roast quince (£6.50) comes with meringues so firm and powdery they could be mistaken for cheap, shop bought ones (although, of course they are not). I love for a gooey, chewy centre me.
Far better is apple cake (£6.50) served at that perfect not-cold-not-warm temperature which ensures we wolf the lot down.
So often with second restaurants they seem to lose their identity. You start with a trendy little spot in Hackney then open in Mayfair and the whole thing jars. The best thing about the second Rochelle Canteen is they haven’t messed with the formula. It’s unpretentious and delicious.
Would we go back? Yes