Infatuated with Farringdon’s food scene

I HATE to say it, but I rarely head East. I’m an SW10 girl, and a lazy one at that. What makes this problematic is that I adore the East End restaurant scene. Nothing excites me more than the fresh concepts that pop up past W1. Caravan? Yes please. Bistrotheque? Count me in. Pizza East? Mmm.

So, when my good friend E wanted to try a cool new London eatery, Redhook was my first suggestion and the perfect excuse to trek across town.I’m a sucker for a bit of shabby chic and exposed brick work, so they had me from the press release. Part of the Rushmore Group, around the corner from this surf n’ turf paradise lies meatball heaven  – no, not IKEA, Giant Robot.

I fell in love a couple of months earlier with the plump, giant prawns in garlic and chilli, giant sausage with lentil salad and the meatballs, which are practically faultless (coming from a Swede, this is excellente). It was dead cheap then (prices have since gone up) and the unmatched cutlery, tea towels as napkins and vintage furniture were just the right amount of quirky cute. Clerkenwell style at its best.

Imagine my expectations for big sister Redhook. The reviews didn’t have me overly excited, but as I stepped inside, the low-lighting and got me all worked up… lobster was on the menu.

Think New York warehouse-chic (or ‘Mad Men-tastic’), but if you’re placed next to the bar, you completely lose out on the atmosphere, so where, of course, do you think the waitress placed us? Bummer.

A glass of Malbec and all was forgotten. E and I eagerly ogling starters: native oysters with shallot vinegar. Salty, fresh and flavoursome – there was nothing to complain about.

When the main course came in, E and I both looked suspiciously at the rather skimpy looking lobster. We ordered a whole, broiled Canadian lobster with garlic, chilli oil and chives. How would this feed us? Oh dear, I was nervously anticipating the need for a second meal when I got home.

The waitress was notified of the mistake and another half lobster trotted in quickly. We also ordered seared scallops with chorizo, red pepper and parsley oil, just in case.

The lobster was cooked perfectly, and the chilli flavour came through subtly yet strong enough to make the dish interesting. The scallops however, were a disappointingly on the verge of being undercooked. The chorizo salsa was too strong and didn’t form a perfect union with the seafood. On the other hand, there was nothing but praise for the side order of tenderstem broccoli with toasted garlic.

I suffered another blow when I was told they were out of Malbec. I had to resort to a glass of Merlot, which wasn’t bad at all, it just wasn’t as perfect as my Argentine champion.

When the plates were cleared we were stuffed, so no room for dessert, despite the tempting menu. I had my eye on the lime and lemon tart (though, they were out of this too!), or perhaps the chocolate Amaretto. We sensibly decided to call it a night.

Redhook didn’t meet our (fairly) high expectations. The service could’ve been better, some of the food should’ve been of higher quality and why on earth were they out of Malbec at 8.30 on a Tuesday night?

That said, I will be back. Redhook has potential – the food was good, just not top notch. I’m still infatuated with Farringdon and its cool, laid back eateries. Diners like Redhook, testify London’s restaurant scene is booming, and I could certainly go back for a giant prawn or two.


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