Dinner, London

Blixen, Old Spitalfields

The 30th of the month arrived; 23 months into our relationship and the traditional anniversary was upon us. We decided to follow up on the recommendation from a friend and booked a table at Blixen on Spitalfields market.

Blixen is located on the South side of Spitalfields market on Brushfield Street. This is an area of London which has changed a lot over the last 10 years, the market has been redeveloped on all sides, with new buildings to the West and the inclusion of restaurants inside the old market building itself. The outer shops are now completely gentrified and certainly not the place to find a bargain. However, new life has been breathed into Spitalfields and there is still a large market which seems very popular. I hope that long-term residents of the area Gilbert & George and the other artists who frequented The Golden Heart are not too saddened by what they see. I think Spitalfields still has enough differentiation to make it interesting and good things can come from regeneration – Blixen being one.

Banking on it

Open the doors to Blixen, an independent situated in a former bank and surrounded by the standard chain restaurants, and you will be surprised by the space here. This restaurant is a lot larger than it first appears from the outside with four distinct zones. On the ground floor at the rear is the conservatory, where a labyrinth of planting awaits for that garden feel all year round. At the front, beyond the kitchen is the European Grand Café style horseshoe and finally downstairs there is private dining in The Safe (well if you have one, why not use it?) plus a bar that is run in partnership with Max and Noel Venning.

They seated us in the cosy horseshoe and even though Blixen has a buzzy vibe there was no problem hearing each other. The welcome is friendly and continued with our enthusiastic waitress. The menu at Blixen is well balanced with options for all tastes. For starters ‘A’ went for the burrata, toasted hazelnut & sharon fruit with crispbread (£9) and I decided on one of new dishes: the celeriac & black truffle mousse, pomegranate & walnut salsa (£8). ‘A’ loved her’s “burrata is a wonderful thing” she was heard to say. Mine was less successful as the truffle overpowered the other flavours but as the staff take a real interest in your eating experience, our lovely waitress promised to let the chief know.

On to our mains. ‘A’ decided on another vegetarian option, chickpea & celeriac cake, butternut squash, chicory & chestnut (£14.50). The waiter who presented this dish to ‘A’ did jokingly say “I hope you are hungry” and with two portions of cake on a bed of squash puree he was right, not helped by ‘A’s’ choice of side, cauliflower cheese fingers. The dishes look really amazing, with colours working harmoniously on the plate, so too with the flavours – a tip for future diners, make sure you have a little of everything on your fork. I picked the Cajun-spiced monkfish, truffled couscous risotto, kale & red salsa (£19.50), another of their new dishes, this was much better with an agreeable balance of flavours and the monkfish was beautifully cooked.

After a rest, we ventured on to the pudding menu. Another good selection, however after the two previous courses we were both looking for something light. ‘A’ went for a classic, Affogato; vanilla & brownie ice cream, spiked espresso (£5.50), which did not disappoint. It looked amazing in its little bowl and came with a good strong espresso – very important. Mine was a joy to behold, confit of pineapple, chilli rum cream, crumb, orange sorbet (£7). This took my breath away, literally. Learn from me and don’t have the chilli cream on its own; combined with the other components it is perfect – wow!

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Recommendation

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Blixen and would be delighted to return, possibly with a guest or two in tow. The menu is a work in progress, which promises new delights to come.

Loo Review (PMC Rating): ★★★★★ Excellent with a twist.

Blixen, 65A Brushfield St, London E1 6AA

Friday, 30th November 2018

 

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