Michelin Starred Leroy Shoreditch in East London is Making a Comeback

Not so very long ago, a restaurant called Ellory closed down in east London, while almost simultaneously another named Leroy opened up just down the road. This was no coincidence; the team behind the former had to close their Michelin-starred doors because the building they were in had been sold. So they found a new venue, rearranged the letters and the furniture a little and opened up as the latter.

In the interests of continuity, however, just a few months later they had reclaimed their Michelin star, but did so in the charming, unassuming manner that had won them rave reviews and loyal customers in the first place.

The original restaurant was opened in 2015 by a team including Matthew Young, of Mayfields fame. They practised a policy of less-is-more, simple dining, with an emphasis on low-key thrills rather than in-your-face theatrics.

A relaxed dining experience

That ethos has been transposed directly to Leroy with owner Ed Thaw and head chef Simon Shand. In her review for The Guardian, Grace Dent described Leroy as a “dark, noisy, naughty wine bar with a pleasing menu… where no one can tell that I’ve kicked off my shoes”. Punters and reviewers alike often celebrate how the restaurant carries with it the DNA of the Shoreditch of two decades ago – unpretentious, experimental and just a bit debauched.

An early evening visit on a summer’s afternoon offers a less rowdy experience than Dent describes, however. Bathed in soft evening light, with the music still low, dining at Leroy is a relaxed experience. The interior is restrained without being spartan, and the staff are friendly but in no way overbearing. They offer hints and tips, and as much information as you could possibly want to know about the wine, down to the middle names of the vintners, if you so desire. But they can also breeze over the top of it all with just the headlines if you aren’t enologically inclined.

Of course, plenty of people do come to Leroy for its wine list, which is predominantly European and has been closely curated – an unsurprising fact considering the ownership is largely comprised of sommeliers. The list changes with the seasons, so there are always plenty of options to compliment whatever you are eating, and for those who prefer grain to grape, there is a good selection of craft beers and cocktails on offer, too.

Understated genius

The food though – this is what really takes the breath away. The menu is constantly shifting and evolving, so what this reviewer experienced will offer a snapshot of what can come out of the kitchen rather than what always does. For us at least, a starter of devilled eggs gets things off to a promising opening, with its ice cream cone of piped mustardy mayo.

Next comes an early highlight that showcases Leroy’s understated genius: a salad of Italian beans, gorgonzola, peaches and almonds. Simplicity itself, but appetite-whettingly moreish.

Alongside it, gnudi bathed in a roasted tomato sauce and topped with pine nuts is an unctuous mix whose components bring out the best in one another, sweet from the tomatoes, rich cream from the gnudi and buttery nuttiness from the pine nuts.

Two fish dishes next: a smoked eel caesar salad, topped with crispy chicken skin, and then another showstopper: a slice of wild trout served with a fried oyster and tartare sauce. This was the hardest dish to share, partly because it isn’t easy to subdivide an oyster and partly because my dining partner and I both wanted the whole darn thing to ourselves.

Evidently distrustful of one another’s companionate leanings, we ordered a dessert each – he, the peach melba, me, a dish of apricot (presented both stewed and as a sorbet) sitting on a bed of white chocolate and topped with almonds.

Accompanying wines that we adored included the Antiphon Tetramythos Peloponnese, a juicy red made from native Greek grapes; the Vigneti Tardis, a brilliant natural wine from Cilento in Campania; a beautifully vibrant La Cantarada de Las Mozas, which felt like a bit of a departure from the more classic styles of Rioja, but a welcome one; and a wonderfully fresh Plaisance Penavayre – a refreshing rosé with a surprising level of depth.

Two madeleines finish the meal, and us, off. Ellroy is dead, long live Leroy.

Leroy Restaurant Shoreditch, 18 Phipp Street, London; leroyshoreditch.com

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