Harden's survey result
“Notwithstanding the hipster canteen vibe, this is the real thing!”. James Lowe’s “brilliantly executed”, seasonal British small plates – “fresh and light, yet sturdy and filling when required” (and often “using a wood-fired oven to give that extra tang of flavour”) – are complemented by “delicious bread” and “a proper list of natural wines”, and have rightly won renown for his venerated foodie champion: a light-filled space at the foot of Shoreditch’s iconic Tea Building. Its ratings are not quite as beyond-stellar as when the venue first opened, however, and it’s no criticism to say that its No. 2 ranking in the UK according to the World’s 50 Best has less to do with its “sublime” cooking, and more to do with the in-crowd criteria of the fooderati who vote for it. Top Tip – “the Lyle’s Guest Chef Series programme is great”.
“Don’t be put off by the hipster canteen vibe” say fans of James Lowe’s venerated Shoreditch foodie-mecca, offering “always-original” small plates and “a small but really interesting wine list”. But ratings here no longer scale the absolute pinnacles they once did, dragged down by a minority who find the place “too impressed by itself” for an achievement level that’s good, but no more.
“A pioneer in the new world of London restaurants and the UK scene generally” – James Lowe’s “so-very-trendy Shoreditch fixture” is much more than a “casual” hipster haven, and for most reporters his “always surprising, frequently stunning” cuisine, “with incredible intensity of flavours” makes it a “five-star all-round experience”. Ratings here came off the boil a tad this year however, with reservations creeping in regarding “off-hand service”, the “very, very stark setting” and some meals that were “clever, but lacked wow-factor”.
“James Lowe and the team continue to inspire” at this “continually excellent”, “hipster-vibe” Shoreditch venue, whose menu “is designed with simplicity at heart, yet refined with complexity of flavour”: “I was a bit sceptical about the set 5-course dinner but my god, was I proved wrong! Incredible cooking and great value for money!”
Lyle's Restaurant Diner Reviews
"A place for open-minded diners, unique dishes such as the amazing mangalitsa but sometimes too lazy, like for a courgette&curd cold soup that you can find even in a standard pre-theatre menu. Service a bit below par, waiters seem uninterested in establishing a rapport with the customer."
"Interesting wines and small plates"
|Wine per bottle||£27.00|
Uncompromising but welcoming, a light and bright operation in the 'School of St John', offering an interesting and evolving menu at prices which encourage experimentation.
James Lowe is part of a diaspora of former Young Turks - a group of ex-pop-up chefs which also includes Isaac McHale, now of the esteemed Clove Club, which is located not far from Lyle's, in Shoreditch's old town hall.
Whereas the Clove Club is a quality operation that comes at West End prices, however, Lyle's is a quality operation which seems something of a bargain, given the level of skill and care on display. Even the multi-course no-choice set dinner menu is a relatively reasonable £39, and our modest lunch for two, with a glass of wine each, weighed in at just over £50.
Shoreditch restaurants nowadays all seem to offer food that's either breathtakingly obvious (chicken bits anyone?) or obscure: old-fashioned middle-of-the-road rarely gets a look in. So at Lyle's, for example, the shortish lunch menu, changing daily, may include such delights as 'Blood Cake & Pickled Chicory': take Aunt Mathilda elsewhere, as this is cooking decidedly in the School of St John.
The uncompromising setting is in keeping, but it is light and airy and softened by the undoubted charm of the staff, who are efficient too. Many of the dishes come with fashionable floral highlights which (so far as we know) have not yet been adopted in St John Street. Nasturtium flowers, we're beginning to think, are the New Black.
In fact, all the dishes here - whether florally enhanced or not - are notably nice to look at. Perhaps that's no surprise with a dish like 'Chegworth (Kent) Salad Leaves', but 'Raw Beef and Mussels' (a sort of roughly chopped tartare with the seafood turned into an emulsion) was surprisingly attractive too. We also enjoyed our very fresh 'Peas & Ticklemore (goat's cheese)', despite the fact that almost nothing - including cooking - had seemingly been done to any of the ingredients.
Surprise hit? 'Leeks, Turbot Roe (think taramosalata) & (ground) Hazelnuts'.
Surprise miss? This is one of those places where they introduce the coffee beans by name and ceremoniously serve the resulting brew in a glass carafe. Just us, or do the results of these venerated brews never quite live up?
The Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High Street, London, E1 6JJ
|Number of Diners:|
|Monday||12 pm-2:30 pm, 6 pm-10 pm|
|Tuesday||12 pm-2:30 pm, 6 pm-10 pm|
|Wednesday||12 pm-2:30 pm, 6 pm-10 pm|
|Thursday||12 pm-2:30 pm, 6 pm-10 pm|
|Friday||12 pm-2:30 pm, 6 pm-10 pm|
|Saturday||12 pm-2:30 pm, 6 pm-10 pm|