I hate going to Shoreditch. There, I said it, you can go ahead and crucify me but I’m not taking it back. It’s just not really my cup of tea. I’m not one of those ‘creative types’, I don’t have a thing for organic, fair trade, no one died in the making of this brew coffee because I don’t actually drink the stuff, and I most certainly do not have a beard. I’d rather not be a cool kid and continue rooting for Tooting any day, though I have heard our little part of London has be called the new Shoreditch once or twice!
Cliches aside, I hate traipsing over to hipsterville because getting from my ‘new’ Shoreditch to the current version is just a bit of a pain. The Overground and I are not exactly friends after the trials and tribulations of commuting to Hackney Central everyday, and I’m not overly fond of those big red vehicles either. This is why it pains me to hear of new restaurants opening there all the time; however, what really irks me is if they survive the opening hype and turn out to be quite good. Like Rök.
Being an Instagram addict I had seen all the mouthwatering shots of Rök’s Nordic smokehouse style dishes although being a little anti-Shoreditch meant I was skeptical. But still curious; enough to jump at the chance to pay them a visit when Alexandra suggested it as the spot for our dinner date… I can be so easily swayed by the hope of great food.
We didn’t book a table but I would recommend you do, the bar is an option but not a particularly comfortable one… I don’t mind sitting on a backless stool but I do appreciate having enough room for my legs under the bar so I don’t have to sit sideways and lean over a lot. Right, glad I got that off my chest, I’m a lot nicer about what we ate, and the service. Our waitress was lovely, and I liked that she was very thorough when explaining the menu, but I’m grateful it was a short menu.
We both started with one of their nduja scotch quails eggs which still had sufficiently oozy yolks and a fantastic smokey spice kick from the nduja, a kind of chorizo paste type thing which I am really loving since devouring a whole block of it recently. They also serve it with their scallops which I was very tempted by but held back from as they were £6 a pop – another time perhaps.
The rest of our dishes arrived soon after; from the meats we opted for the lamb with monks beard puree, and went for all but one of the vegetable sides. The lamb was perfectly pink and tender as expected, but in a rare turn of events for me, I thought the vegetable dishes stole the show. Well the broccoli and cauliflower did; the burnt sweet potato with horseradish creme fraiche was a bit more ho-hum but that’s still fairly high praise considering I’m not a fan of them.
I really do love broccoli and cauliflower, no really, I do… I’d eat one or both everyday if a certain someone let me so the charred broccoli salad with pumpkin seeds, toasted almonds, sesame seeds and quinoa, along with the cauliflower cheese with beef dust and almonds, were dishes that really screamed out to me. Neither disappointed – the cauliflower smothered with creamy cheese sauce was so comforting while on the opposite end of the spectrum the nutty broccoli salad felt a little healthy?! I blame the quinoa and its superfood connotations.
We could have stopped there but it seemed silly given we still had plenty to yarn about and there were only two desserts on the menu which made ordering rather easy – one of each thanks. I thought I would love the birch and chocolate pudding with charcoal beetroot icecream but I didn’t; the pudding itself was nice but for me, completely overpowered by the beetroot. The poached pear however, I really liked; the pear itself was perfectly cooked through but still had bite and I even surprised myself again by how much I liked the cardamon custard – definitely a dish worthy of a recreation attempt at home!
I hate to admit it but Rök won me over; Shoreditch – 1, Connie – 0. I thought the dishes were well conceived and well executed, which in the age of over the top and bizarre flavour combinations, is not an achievement to be sneezed at! The restaurant itself had a pleasantly busy buzz and the staff were friendly and helpful… worth dragging myself all the way there for. But if they’d like to open a branch in ‘new’ Shoreditch, I’d be very much obliged.
Are you going to crucify me for being unreasonable about going to Shoreditch? Or shall we just talk about the food at Rök? Or both.