Oct 19 2012

North Road

I had huge expectations for this place, as I had just been to Noma and my friend Ian was telling me this place does European food with a Scandinavian twist, so I thought it would be a bit like Noma, but it was not. The restaurant was opened in 2010 and is called North Road because the historic Great North Road began its course at Smithfield (which is where the restaurant is located) in Pre-Roman times, heading North, and the name should imply to you English food with a Northern twist I guess. The main chef who generated a lot of excitement was Christoffer Hruskova (who is Danish and headed some other restaurants in London before opening North Road, and hence another reason why some people would compare this to the Danish Noma) but he left this summer, but still the restaurant maintains 1 Michelin star. Four of us went there for dinner on a Friday evening and the place was totally empty and during the whole evening only one or two other tables were occupied which is a bit sad to see in a restaurant. This also meant there was a lot of attention on us from the staff, which meant they were coming up to us a lot, which interrupted our conversations somewhat and also hurried us slightly (we had to tell them 2x we were not ready to order yet). This also meant that the atmosphere was not as great as it could have been, as the place felt a bit soulless and stiff, not helped by the spread out tables and big space. When we first arrived the waiter brought us 4 different amuse bouche things including pickled quails eggs which had a very intriguing pink colour and crispy pork skins, as well as filled potatoes and a cracker type amuse bouche, and I did enjoy these amuse bouche more than I enjoyed the food that followed and though they were extremely creative and nice. Half of us chose the “Scottish scallops with carrot, sea buckthorn & buttermilk” as a starter and the presentation of this dish with 2 different presentations of the carrot on the scallop was brilliant.  The people that had it thoroughly enjoyed it. I had the “raw and pickled vegetables” which included paper-thin courgette, beetroot and the dish was decorated with flowers and also some very interesting looking herbs, I am sure some of them you can find next to a road, and I always find it so funny how high end restaurants sometimes serve you things you would most definitely shy away if you saw in real life in the nature (my boyfriend was making fun of me the other day on our holiday when we were swimming next to some seaweed that I tried to avoid and called disgusting, and he was saying if Noma served it to me and charged big money I would be thinking how nice it is). I thought this dish was beautifully presented, it reminded me a bit of the dishes in Pollen Street Social, but the taste was not that memorable or interesting. Each of us chose a different main course and Ian had the “Norfolk venison with smoked bone marrow with Beetroot in textures and wild sorrel”, which looked incredible on the plate with the deep red beetroot matching the venison so well, and he seemed to like it but was not over the top about this. Santa had the “Herefordshire quail with wild mushrooms, Flowers and wild herbs” and she really enjoyed it. I had the “Cornish monkfish and bakskuld (dried fish which is what Scandinavians like, and one of the few slight hints towards Scandinavian food) with sea vegetables and seaweed, and it left me totally unimpressed and I left quite a bit of it on the plate as I did not think it was that tasty and I usually love monkfish. My boyfriend had turbot with vegetables and whilst he finished it, he did not think it was an amazing fish dish, and it was just plain. My boyfriend chose a desert at the end that had strawberries and strawberry sorbet as well as strawberry marshmallows, which was lovely and bright on the plate and looked very appetising and I especially loved the little marshmallows, and Ian chose a desert with “hay and sea buckthorn and hazelnuts” which looked interesting. Santa had “Foamy caramel Sponge with milk ice cream”. What I especially loved about North Road was the fairy floss they brought us with some other petit fours at the end of the meal. It was super cool, presented in a tree and cool to eat. Loved this extravagant and interesting desert. The rest of the petit fours were also good and pretty. I can see how North Road is trying really hard, they present the dishes well and they also use interesting ingredients like weird flowers and leaves which top restaurants do, but despite this the restaurant is quite forgetful as the taste is not amazing. I am sure if I mentioned this restaurant to my boyfriend a few months after the meal he would have zero recollection of this place. None of the food in terms of how it tasted really made me go wow, or even close and it is so sad when a restaurant puts so much effort into the food, which you can see, but just fails to deliver on the taste front. An extra m goes to this place due to the effort and presentation, otherwise it would have been MMM. Also I did not really feel that much Scandinavian influence and it felt like a European restaurant.

Date: 19/10/12
Price for 4 people with 2 bottles of wine and service charge: £310
Location: Smithfield

North Road on Urbanspoon

Maija rated: 



North Road
St John St EC1M 4AN
United Kingdom
North Road Reviewed by Hungry Bee Maija on . Rating: 3.5