Page 0042

40 � squaremeal.co.uk

NEW OPENINGS

COUNTER CULTURE

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

THE FROG

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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