Tom Oldroyd, of Oldroyd in Islington fame, has taken over what was once The Richmond pub in Hackney. Itâ€™s now The Duke of Richmond and itâ€™s a beauty to say the least.
There are bench seats outside which are perfect for a pint of Meteor and a plate of crispy pig ears (Â£3) or beef pie from the pie cabinet (Â£4). That pie is incredible by the way; its suet crust just crisp enough to hold all that soft, fatty beef shin inside. You eat it with your fingers. Itâ€™s pie perfection.
Inside itâ€™s a stripped back affair. The space is split in two – thereâ€™s a bar area and small dining room. The walls are half grey, half pale green. Itâ€™s simple but pretty.
The menu offers French bistro dishes like lamb sweetbread vol au vent with peas and almond veloute (Â£7) and tomato confit tart fine with black olive tapenade and crÃ¨me fraiche (Â£6.50) – the pastry on both is out of this world.
â€œLet it go coldâ€ weâ€™re told with the Cornish crab soufflÃ© (Â£8). It is rather hot, so we do. The result is light and fluffy with a strong crabby wallop mainly from the crab bisque which we pour in. This is cooking with BIG flavours.
Iâ€™ve found skate wing to be a touch bland in the past. Here, that problem is solved by a dollop of bÃ©arnaise and a side of fries (Â£17). The whole thing is moreish, moreish, moreish.
The Duke Burger (Â£15) sees two rib cap patties, nicely pink, topped with shallots, more of that lovely bÃ©arnaise and Roquefort. Itâ€™s even better than the Spotted Pig in New York, which is famed for its burger and blue cheese combo.
Roast Challans duck with thousands of picholine olives (Â£16) is a rustic thing – although a bowl to spit out all those olive stones would go down a treat. The tender duck sits in a puddle of ducky gravy which has depth of flavour like nothing else.
For pud, iced chocolate parfait (Â£6) is just the ticket for the muggy weather. A rum baba (Â£6.50) is lovely and light too and made more summery by a wedge of roasted pineapple.
The best thing about the Duke of Richmondâ€™s food is it’s all about flavour. Head chef Rory Shannon, previously of the Canton Arms, is cooking top notch food using great quality ingredients and the result is nothing but delicious.
Would we go back? Yes