40 � squaremeal.co.uk
15 The Pavement, SW4 0HY
No telephone £££
� is totally on-trend tapas bar comes
from chef Robin Gill, who's made serious
restaurant destinations out of Clapham
(� e Dairy, � e Manor) and Bethnal Green
(Paradise Garage). Here he's transformed
� e Dairy's old deli into a 15-seat temple
LIKE THIS? TRY THESE The Blues Kitchen 020 3463 0544 Down-home BBQ cooking, live music and more than 100 bourbons Hotbox
020 3544 2524 Smoked meats and ribs served up with a fun and friendly buzz Red's True Barbecue 020 3021 2302 Dude food done well at this 'church of meat'
MUST ORDER Beef tartare with caviar
2 Ely's Yard, Old Truman Brewery, Hanbury Street, E1 6QR
020 3813 9832 £££
When Adam Handling opened his eponymous restaurant at
Westminster's St Ermin's Hotel in September 2014, the Scot had
won Young Chef of the Year in his home country and had reached
the fi nal of Masterchef: � e Professionals, all by his mid-twenties.
He has now packed up his entire team and headed east, to this
rough-and-ready, oh-so-Hoxton site. Perhaps � e Frog
represents a dry-run for Handling's future career.
� e interior features a mishmash of furniture, an open kitchen
and a bar, all within a high-ceilinged concrete box. � e look is
more appealing than it sounds, thanks to art-covered walls and
a plant-strewn dining terrace at the front. In contrast, the menu
is a far more refi ned aff air, upholding Handling's Westminster
standards via an array of beguiling snacks and small plates.
Recognisably British dishes are twisted into unfamiliar
packages, so beetroot is served as miniature crispy rolls, stuff ed
with more beetroot and dusted with bright purple powder; and
soft mackerel slices come with ribbons of green apple laced with
kombucha, creating a disorientating tingle on the palate.
Our standout dish was barbecued veal tartare, encircling an
egg yolk and peppered with chilli and fresh herbs for a creamy
blast of bright fl avours. To drink, expect an extensive list of
Brewdog beers and a succinct choice of cocktails and wines.
Ultimately, the marriage between stripped-back Shoreditch
cool and painstaking, intricate food is somewhat confusing:
a balance hasn't yet been struck. Nevertheless, the restaurant
is an impressive prototype - this Frog is defi nitely not green.
to inventive cooking, prepared by just one
chef and served by solo front-of-house
Coco Crean (ex-Paradise Garage).
It's totally on trend except in one crucial
regard: it takes online bookings. � at and
the fact it's BYO nudges Counter Culture
into Squaremeal three-star territory: this
really is worth crossing town for, especially
given the great value (around £40 a head).
Standouts from the nine-dish menu
included potato sourdough that really did
taste sour, spread with spicy homemade
'nduja, and a cooling cultured cream.
We also loved the salsify ketchup -
scooped up on a Quaver-like curl of crisp
pork crackling. And we were smitten by
a jumble of beef tartare, caviar and radishes,
all gleefully rubbed around the plate to mop
up a bone-marrow salad cream, as well as
Galician octopus served with fried 'nduja
and cooked in the 'nduja oil.
And that's the thing: nothing goes to
waste. Nearly everything is made on site -
there's a curing room and a smokehouse,
fermenting bottles line the shelves and
beehives sit on the roof - and prepared
using labour-intensive methods. Counter
cultural it may be, but it's not hard to detect
Gill's time spent at Noma and Le Manoir.
� e restaurant's website calls Counter
Culture '� e Dairy's naughty little brother'.
As we hugged Coco good night (blame the
BYO), we couldn't wait to return to this
naughty but very nice newcomer.
MUST ORDER Veal tartare with egg yolk, chilli and fresh herbs
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