Dec 4 2013

Hoi Polloi

Hoi Polloi is a sort of British/ European, but very trendy, restaurant in the American Ace Hotel in Shoreditch (the hotel’s first venture outside of the US). Ace Hotel is located on Shoreditch High Street and the entrance to Hoi Polloi restaurant is through a flower shop, Hattie Fox's That Flower Shop, which is unusual, cool and matches the Shoreditch vibe. Hoi Polloi actually is an expression from Greek that means “the many” or “the majority”, and in English it means the working class, the masses or common people. Pablo Flack and David Waddington are the owners and they already have two other trendy restaurants Bistrotheque and Shrimpy's, and a few other pop-ups.
I had a lunch booking for Wednesday (although you can come here for breakfast, lunch and dinner and this place is open late) and I had booked it for 6 people, but there were actually 8 of us having lunch in the end, as more people than I expected arrived. The waiters were not that helpful in accommodating this even though the room was empty when we arrived at 12.00 as they said they don’t have a big enough table and they don’t accept reservations for groups larger than 6. In the end we had to squeeze around a table, which was absolutely manageable. The décor is very trendy, like it should be in Shoreditch, the clientele (when they started arriving later at around 1/2pm) is young and the waiters are cool with beards and relaxed Shoreditch attitude.  The restaurant is big, spacious and has high ceilings.

The menu was printed on brown, recycled paper but I was surprised to see that they had a very small selection of dishes, only 4 snacks, 4 starters and 4 main courses on the menu (and they did not have one of the main courses – chicken – so only actually 3 main courses). This small selection reminds me of  when you go to a restaurant with a large group and they limit the choice and I don’t think this is how a menu should be in a restaurant.  There is nothing wrong with serving a few dishes but serving them well but to only have 3 main courses is definitely way less than I have seen anywhere else. Starters range from  £6 to  £13 and main courses from  £13.50 to £18. The one advantage of this small menu though was that we actually managed to order every single starter and main course from the menu, so you can see the whole range below in the pictures.

Before ordering starters and main courses we ordered 3 out of their 4 snacks, “puffy scratchings, green sauce”, “pickled onion rings, salt cod paste” and  “chickpea fritters, tarragon yoghurt”. As you can see from the names all of them were quite fattening snacks, not healthy ones, and the only one that I sort of liked was the chickpea fritter starter. The puffy scratchings and the pickled onion rings were sort of cool on paper but were not very nice and not sure why anyone would want to snack on these. The sauces that went with the snacks were nice but the actual snacks a bit too flavourless and strange.

As my starter I ordered the “fennel & orange salad”, and it was huge. It was the biggest starter out of all and I sort of liked it, although I think I do a better fennel and orange salad at home. You can see the other 3 courses that my friends ordered which were “turnip & horseradish soup, stringy beef” (which was served to Mubi who does not eat beef and she had asked for the soup to be brought without beef which they ignored), “dressed curried mackerel, seeded cracker” (which was very salty, almost too salty) and “crab salad, radish, toast”. Will quite liked the crab dish and he liked the fact the brown meat was not so strong and it was a light desert and there was plenty of food. On average though everyone in general seemed to enjoy the food.
There were only three main courses to choose from, as I said, and most of us went for “pressed lamb, Jerusalem artichoke, radish, Madeira”. I personally did not like it, I was not keen on the pressed lamb, I much rather would have enjoyed a piece of lamb and the whole sauce and flavor was too strong and overpowering in the wrong sort of taste for me. But this is personal as the other people that had the lamb liked it much more than I did. I got similar positive comments about “wild mushroom, artichoke, potato dumplings” and  “plaice, fennel, brown crab, beans” main courses. We also ordered two sides, a side of “lettuce, hazelnuts and salad cream” and “beef-dripping chips”. The lettuce once again I was not particularly keen on, I just thought it tasted a bit strange with the hazelnuts but the chips were good and crunchy around the fluffy potato.

I had a good not a great lunch at Hoi Polloi. I liked the Shoreditch vibe and the sort of semi-creative menu but for me the restaurant was too big to be totally cool and trendy and the food was good and there were some good dishes but some did not taste as nice.

Date: 04/ 12/ 13
Location: Shoreditch
Price for 8 people, no alcohol and service charge: £327.38

Hoi Polloi at The Ace Hotel on Urbanspoon

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Hoi Polloi
100 Shoreditch High Street E1 6JQ
United Kingdom
Hoi Polloi Reviewed by Hungry Bee Maija on . Rating: 3