Where to eat and drink in London this week:
This week, its Bright in London Fields, Hackney – brilliant food and confident cooking in a simple, unpretentious setting – and a margarita-martini hybrid up The Shard.
Bright, London Fields
What happens when you combine ridiculously good wine bar P Franco in Clapton (one of 2017s restaurants of the year) with wine shop Noble Liquor?
Well, something very good, we discovered.
Nestled in Netil House in London Fields and run by the same team behind P Franco and Noble Liquor, Bright is a pretty minimalist joint with simple décor, menus and seating that lets the food and wine take centre stage.
On our visit we shot for some snacks to start – move over olives and almonds…the mackerel and shiso tempura (£8) and fried cheddar pastry (£6) were ridiculously good.
The tempura was generously filled while still being light and crispy and the pastries, well, these were cheesy balls of utter joy covered in floaty, finely grated cheddar and were inhaled in seconds.
Feeling that more snacks were needed the grilled chicken (£8) was ordered with yoghurt, lemon and garum. Succulent, crispy-skinned and again disappeared swiftly.
Next up were the bulls heart tomatoes with olives and marjoram (£9). The simple flavours let the extremely good tomatoes do the talking…less is more as they say.
These were joined by turbot cooked on the bone (£25), one hell of a succulent, meaty piece of fish.
Finished off with some shards of chocolate with sea salt and caraway (£4) – a bitter sweet end (in a good way) to a damn tasty night out – if, with a £98 bill for 3 starters, shared main and pudding and a £20 bottle of wine, a tad on the pricey side.
Margatinis at Aqua Shard Bar
There is much to love about Aqua Shard bar. Not only does it have views to to die for – its on the 31st floor of The Shard, after all – it also has some of the best cocktails in town, so its no surprise that despite the hefty prices (worth it for the panoramic view of the city) this place is a destination.
Its always busy and surprisingly not just with tourists.
Now – back to the cocktails and why we keep on coming back to Aqua Shard bar.
We love friendly and charismatic staff – its what elevates a place from being just another bar to somewhere to come back to time and time again.
Its about being made to feel like a local, no matter where you are. Bar manager Eduard Balan gets this – plus he is a talented and inventive barman who makes great drinks. Hes a story teller and he does so via his cocktails.
The invention of his we like best is the Margatini, which he tells us he was inspired to create based on the love we have for the margarita and the martini.
I wanted to create a cocktail that would be a fusion of two of the biggest consumed cocktails in the States – the margarita is the number one choice, followed by the martini. he said. He tells us that he wanted to maintain the essence of the margarita cocktail but with the influence of a martini.
So, inspired by pastry ingredients and their properties, he used agar agar to clarify the lime juice in order to get a clear, martini-style drink. I used, agave and orange flower water to emphasise the Cointreau orange taste, and finally the waqamomo peach as a substitute to the olive, he says. The result is a fusion of the two favourites, creating a transparent, unique cocktail I call the Marga-tini.
His excitement is contagious – so contagious in fact, that we had to have four just to make sure we knew exactly what he was talking about.
If you have time (or £) to explore Eduards cocktail list further, he does an interesting take on a Negroni and the bar has just started stocking bottled cocktails inspired by original Club cocktails, including one in mint and chocolate.
Aqua Shard bar is at The Shard. Visit aquashard.co.uk for more information.
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