151-157 City Rd, Hoxton, London EC1V 1JH www.platecatering.co.uk
In the Space Age perspective building that I’ve often wondered about by London’s Old Street – the one with purposed diagonal windows that befuddle your logic (cruelly located opposite Moorfields Eye Hospital), is the restaurant Plate.
And similarly, Plate’s food contorts the taste buds, tying them into pussy bows in your mouth, although its constituent parts are actually quite delicious.
The official launch of Plate this summer in London’s Hoxton marks an extended soft launch period of Arnaud Stevens’ first restaurant: Plate in Shoreditch. Owner and Chef Director Arnaud has previously worked with Pierre Koffmann, Gordon Ramsay, Jason Atherton and Richard Corrigan.
The fish and vegetable-biased restaurant also does catering and has a bakery, working like a concession within the hotel M by Montcalm. It does still have the whiff of a hotel restaurant with its grey marble shades, greyer felt chairs and slightly corporate decor to suit its City location.
There was also, the evening we visited, a confusion of music with jazz upstairs battling with Abba’s Dancing Queen spiralling up to the mezzanine restaurant. But the ambience picked up after 9pm.
Arnaud’s dual French and English heritage is very much in evidence gastronomically. Of the flight of breads which included Marmite brioche and sourdough, wild mushroom brioche was my favourite – gentle yet head-butty.
The breads came with ‘butters’ which were more like mousses of churned plain, onion and balsamic butter – the onion was particularly good. A’s pea soup was super, very subtle with pea shoots and a quail’s egg quivering delicately at the bottom of a little reservoir bowl.
There was a very good salad of Heritage tomatoes, half of which were smoked in Eucalyptus leaf with a lemon ricotta in homemade olive oil, a vibrant green hue.
The flavours were balanced perfectly but, perhaps it’s just me, I always think of pillow salad bags when I see radicchio lettuce, despite its bitterness being right.
The menu changes seasonally, this is the spring menu, “because we don’t get a summer in England” says our waiter Ruben.
My main of baby violet artichoke with praline ricotta, shallot and parsley oil was intriguing. A lot of thought had obviously gone into this dish with again, sweet, bitter and salt well balanced with texture, yet it would have been better as a dessert I felt.
The praline ricotta overpowered the dish – an earthy medley of violets, mosses and creams.
Again, A’s Chilton farm rump of lamb with tomato fondue, anchovy (in a cream), basil dressing and charred gem lettuce had beautiful constituent parts which didn’t necessarily need each other. The lamb was cooked perfectly and tasted excellent so it was a shame to have pesto already masking its flavour.
Dessert was another interesting palate – banana, buckwheat speculoos with yoghurt and honeycomb. I could have done without the fried banana but the speculoos – a wafer-thin meringue with honey rather than another contortion of the lav – was lovely, as was the homemade honeycomb. Similarly good were the in-house espresso and toasted almond ice-creams.
Arnaud has said: Ã¢â‚¬Å“My aim is to grow the Plate brand into a leading restaurant, bakery and caterer known for excellence in all areas through a committed attitude, leading creativity and passion.” Those traits are definitely there; “all areas” just need a bit of gelling together.