Owner of Brunswick House Jackson Boxer and its exec chef Andrew Clarke have opened their first joint venture, the big and beautiful St Leonards in Shoreditch.
There are two options when visiting; the main dining room, which subtly looks onto an open grill with meats hanging above big flames and a raw seafood bar, OR, the bar, which has a separate menu. With both you’re surrounded by concrete in a National Theatre car park kind of way. It’s a gorgeous space.
Our first visit is to the main restaurant which features more adventurous plates like smoked eel and foie gras custard with pork rind (£12) and hispi cabbage with pork fat and xo crumb (£5). Dishes here are flavour bombs; each bite intrigues, confuses and delights in equal measure.
Dexter bavette (£17), just slightly too medium-well, would be a little more ordinary were it not topped with powdered, cured bone marrow which has the texture of snow. It’s a fabulous thing to eat.
Flamed oysters (£3.50 each) taste meaty – there must be some beef fat thrown in the shell? They slip down the gullet gloriously. Dainty little chunks of razor clams (£9) aren’t the chewy rubber pellets I’ve had before. Here, served with peas and raw courgette, they’re sweet and soft and rather delicious.
Black bream, fennel, lemon and caper berries (£14) is another explosion of flavours. Each component alone being either too weak or too bold but throw them all together and you’ve got yourself something tasty.
On a separate visit (where we dine as guests of the restaurant) we perch on stools at the bar and sip on Domaine de Triennes rosé by the glass. The menu is less whacky and although the delicious sounding grilled lamb ribs aren’t available, a fried fish sandwich (£12), which is gargantuan in size, is a real crowd pleaser.
An equally large hot dog (£11), using a spicy mortadella sausage, also hits the spot. It pairs a rich aioli and tangy pickles brilliantly. A side of salt and pepper fries (£4) are generously seasoned with both making for an addictive snack.
All in all I’d say St Leonards is an exciting restaurant which isn’t afraid of being bold or adventurous. It’s also a gorgeous spot filled with people who seem happy to work there. One for your list? Without a doubt.
Would we go back? Yes