Lyle’s (London)

Lyle’s is a name you hear hushed by more London foodies than any others in recent years, and I’d been absent from the city’s graces since the restaurant’s inception back in 2014. I was however, a long standing fan of St. John – Clerkenwell’s seminal offal diner – and a far better night out than if you were thinking of going to Fabric, just around the corner. James Lowe was once St. John’s head chef, so heading to his Shoreditch stronghold – Lyle’s – had to be the natural trajectory for my brief visit to London.

The bright decor and polished concrete floors are what you might expect of a hip, open plan establishment, but provide a comfortable environment, even if it doesn’t get dark outside until 10pm.

The moreish sourdough and butter (It’s English, right?) provide all the time needed to digest the thankfully terse menu.

Provided you’re allergy free and not a picky eater, this is the best way to dine. No tricky guessing games of what they do the best, or hints from previous moronic diners on review sites on what not to order. Just four things. That’s what you’re getting. That’s what it costs. Now chill out, have a drink and stop being an indecisive whinger.

A word about the drinks; It’s no secret I’m not a huge ‘natural wine’ guy, and there’s plenty of that here. Most of the vino fell short of my expectations. However I respect the strategy, and with a restaurant such as this, buzzword wine selection is probably a shrewd tactic. The house wine is fine.

As I’m certain was a nod to country produce, some dutch carrots arrive – unannounced – with an impossibly mouth watering whipped side affair, whose ingredients I never got to the bottom of, but who instinctually reminded me of 10 William’s whipped ‘bottarga’ pretzel.

Few people protest when slices of roasted pear arrive, saddled with slices of prosciutto so thin you could roll a joint with them.

The first official course of Courgette Soup with Milk Curds and Sorrel will make you believe nothing this green ever tasted so good. With a hue normally reserved for hazardous chemical byproducts, it’s textures resembles more of a purée, and makes you angry at your parents for not having provided you with it when home sick from school.

The Mackerel, Tomato & Bread proves that you don’t have to fuck with dishes to make them spectacular, provided you have the best produce. It also presents the perfect lilypad between the courses it’s nestled within.

As hero dishes go, the Saddleback with Artichoke and New Season Garlic provided just enough pork to let you know it was there, while hosting a clinic on clarity and quality of ingredients. Looks simple. Is simple. Tasted out of this world.

Dessert arrives and I shy away. I’ve never been one that takes to sugar like Robert Downey Jr to a crack pipe. However my curiosity gets the better of me, and I break off a piece of Cherry, Chamomile Mess. It’s great. But it’s sugar. Reminds me of a fancy meringue. I only ate meringue as a child, and at an age that I could never appreciate this kind of elegance, so I respectfully decline the next bite.

In what I can only describe as a modern day version of a saloon style entrance, heads turn and conversations hush as actor Jake Gyllenhaal enters the restaurant with a vaguely famous date in tow. I suspect this afforded more dishes to diners adjacent the actor, as various cooks and sous chefs scurried to our table to provide us with a bonus dessert, perhaps in hopes of sneaking a peak.

Actually, maybe they were just being nice. Feel free to create your own narrative, I obviously do. And in the mouth of which gift horse would I look upon receiving Blackberries with Cream and Honey? No horse I tell you.

Come and be told what to eat.

Tea Building
56 Shoreditch High Street
E1 6JJ, UK

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