In the days of my father’s National Service, recruits only needed to know one thing: ‘If it moves, salute it. It if doesn’t, whitewash it’. Perhaps Shaun Clarkson – designer and co-proprietor of this new gastropub – has military blood, because he seems to have taken the second part of this advice to heart. Walls, floors, upholstery – in fact pretty much all aspects of this new establishment are a symphony in white.
How well this ethereal colour-scheme will hold up in grungy Hoxton, only time will tell, but – initially at least – the place certainly makes a relaxing place to hang out in. Considering it is not even in ‘prime’ Hoxton, it was also notably busy the lunchtime I visited.
Part of the attraction is the short menu, whose reasonable prices reflect the fact that this place is still basically a pub. So while a starter of creamy onion and cider soup was keenly priced (at just £3.50), it was sufficiently substantial and tasty that – with its accompanying white bread – it would pass as a light meal. An even more natural choice for the one-course luncher would have been the salmon fishcake with poached egg and spinach (£8). It was one of the best versions of this dish your reviewer has had for some time. Its salmon content – obvious to both the eye and the tastebuds – was far removed from the fried mush too often passed of as a fishcake. Pudding was a bit of a disappointment, but this may have been more a matter of personal taste than of quality.
Staff are too often the Achilles heel of gastropubs, but that is certainly not the case here. Amiable service is central to the appeal of this quality newcomer, which deserves to succeed.