You are not always sure of what you are eating in Chriskitch, a new restaurant tucked behind Hoxton Square, but as I learnt, it pays to put your trust in the chef.
Surprising combinations are the order of the day here (BBQ duck ravioli and quinoa popsicle anyone?) all of which inspired by the worldly travels of the restaurant’s chef Chris Honor.
The starter of champagne-poached oyster, truffle oil, caviar and scrambled eggs struck me as something a child would dream up, asked what grown-ups eat.
But there is nothing childish about this starter, which bursts with rich truffle and sea flavours. It is beautifully presented – just like everything else on the menu – in an oyster shell propped up by sorbet, on a bed of ornamental seaweed.
Other weird and wonderful delights pop up around the starters – cheese popsicles, crisped rye bread… even powdered white truffle on a teaspoon to cleanse the palate.
It is the juicy kale rolls that steal the warm-up show, however, which were much more lively than they sound, bursting with south east Asian flavours of basil seeds and fresh herbs. These complimentary bites are welcome in a menu that veers towards the pricey, with mains averaging at around £19.
And with the mains come flavours of the Middle East: the signature blackened lamb dish is enclosed in succulent aubergine strips, topped with salty feta and with the sweet hint of date chutney.
Moving on to Mediterranean climes is the salmon: crispy skin, succulent and flaking apart underneath. Somehow this dish smacks of the sea even more than expected, perhaps due to deep notes of anchovy. Underneath is bone marrow and a bacon and endive tart – though I’m not sure exactly which part is which. What I can vouch for, though, is its deliciousness.
For dessert we forego the recommended chocolate pudding, opting instead for the picture-pretty crème brûlée. It combines all the great things about a crème brûlée – a rich and smooth vanilla flavour with a crispy top – yet is even more delectable thanks to the fresh fruit flavours of thin candied lemon slices and fresh raspberries.
A poached pear poked through a mysterious round pastry crisp, served with a smear of salted caramel sauce, vanilla cream and ‘activated’ walnuts – which, yes, really did taste nuttier than usual.
At Chriskitch you pay more than your usual Hackney joint, but the menu takes you far beyond this borough.
5 Hoxton Market, N1 6HG