Where: The Book Club, Shoreditch
With who: The Ginger Prince
How much: A neat, slightly clever breakfast / brunch menu (baked beans on toast make a tongue in cheek appearance), a slightly schizophrenic lunch and dinner service backing up some great cocktails and a good wine list. small plates for £3.50/£5, big (and I mean big) plates for less than a tenner. Very good value...
It's not clever to mock the afflicted. So I'll say little about the slightly too cool for school denizens of Shoreditch and Hoxton. Besides, The Ginger Prince and I had gone to an event hosted at The Book Club on Leonard Street and floppy haired kooks and early twenties hipsters come with the territory. The event was fun, if a little worthy, but I like what they're doing with the place. It hosts events (they have a most nights in a downstairs basement, tricked out as a Shoreditch standard, bare brick walls, exposed pipes and graffiti stickers. Upstairs is similar, with the addition of hipster art prints, posters for forthcoming rockabilly nights and a ping pong table. Chairs as stolen from local church halls and your grandmother's parlour.
That slight derision aside, I have to say I like it. I've been there a few times during the day for meetings and the space always feel welcoming. The big windows let the light stream in, it's comfortable and the slightly scatty staff get it right more often than not. For such a casual place, more bar than restaurant, they run a lot on their menu, and this is one of the few problems. It feels a little too try-hard. The lunch menu (served all afternoon) rolls from rustic soups and jacket potatoes to chicken schnitzel and monkfish. It all looks good, and there's not much you wouldn't want to eat, but I wouldn't try to construct a meal out of it.
Dinner gives you a selection of light (or not so light) plates. The Ginger Prince and I went for way too much without realising it. A plate of Muchos Nachos was indeed muchos, though the nachos themselves were homemade, feathery light and buttery sweet. The topping was adequate and for a tenner, a very good plate to share between two or three. The one that killed us was the duck rillette, it wasn't the half loaf of sourdough, or the large pot of homemade piccillili; sweet and crunchy with a snap of mustard, it was the soup bowl, mounded (way too) high with the subtly seasoned and gamey rillette. It wasn't the best I've had, the meat was a little too dry and the seasoning a little too subtle (with no other notes to cut through the rich meat), but it was huge. We got barely half way through the portion before admitting defeat. Half the size, twice the spice should be the chef's aim.