When London Overground opened in East London few years back, no one mentioned that increasing the area’s food & drink scene via letting out railway arches was one of the main intentions. Well, OK that’s probably because it wasn’t. But it’s happened anyway. We’ve already seen British restaurant Beagle, noodle bar Tonkotsu East and Hackney Brewery all take space under the tracks between Hoxton and Haggerston, and the latest launch is this restaurant attached to workout and rehearsal space Trip Studio, nestled beneath the lines out of Haggerston.
While an all-glass frontage lets the light in, little else has been done to the Arch that holds Trip Kitchen. Bare brick walls, industrial hanging lights, metal-legged chairs reminiscent of school, and desk-sized square wooden tables give the room a feel somewhere between rough and ready East London artsy and an exam hall. On our mid-week visit, the underpopulated restaurant wasn’t all that much louder than an exam hall, either. Though given it’s been open little over a month, maybe people just haven’t found it yet, as it really should be busy.
Turkish-Cypriot chef Selin Kiazim heads up the kitchen, cooking modern Middle Eastern-inspired food with many an international influence. It’s a style that makes sense given not only her heritage and a well-travelled background, but especially her recent time working with Peter Gordon. The man behind The Providores in Marylebone and Kopapa in Covent Garden, as well as restaurants in Australia and Istanbul, Gordon is known as the father of fusion food, and famed for his bright, bold flavours.
The menu is split between snacks, small plates and large plates, all served to share and arriving as they’re ready. From the snacks list we try beef kofte, which are served as piled-up meatballs in a metal flowerpot; they are juicy and well-seasoned, a little like meaty falafel; they’re also good value at £4.50. Another dish of muhammara on toast is a similar success; this slightly spicy, very tangy red pepper dip could be considered a Middle Eastern take on pan con tomate, and we get a generous plateful (complete with a fair bit of tongue tingling) for no more than £2. We haven’t paid that little for a dish in quite a while.
Pomegranate-glazed crispy lamb breast with yoghurt from the small plates section comes served in a deep bowl, where the sweet, tender meat is unceremoniously vilified by a rather unattractive puddle of slightly solidified, curdled yoghurt that it sits in. We’re not sure if the curdling is intentional or not, and given the acidic taste of said monstrosity actually contrasts the meat and its marinade pretty well, perhaps we’re being a bit harsh. We’re certainly not won over, though. Another dish of soft steamed clams in a vibrant green pesto of chilli, spring onions and pistachios fares much better; while a grilled haloumi served with a bold chilli-tomato jam is a salty, sweet and spicy flavour hit. The small plates don’t deviate far from the £9 mark.
Our largest plate of garlic roast chicken emerges as a highlight, and still good value £13. The all-too-often bland or dry breast meat is among the most moist we’ve tried, oozing richly seasoned, garlicky juices as we cut into it. Crispy skin is an added treat.
A short selection of wines and classic cocktails ensure the food is well washed down but are no reason to visit in themselves. Dessert gives all the reason we need, though. It comes as a final exotic flourish in the form of a blood orange & white chocolate ganache with poached pear, filo shards and coriander cress, presented like a spilled treasure trove of Ottoman jewels with bright colours, contrasting flavours and a wealth of textures scattered beautifully across the plate.
The dessert isn’t just an intoxicating dish in its own right, but the perfect way to end to a meal of taste sensations that is already luring us back for more.
And we’ve almost forgotten about that yoghurt.
Trip Kitchen is at TripSpace Studios, 339-340 Acton Mews, E8 4EA.
Disclaimer: We review anonymously and pay for all our meals/drinks.