Oh Shoreditch, the birth land of the hipster, the home of graffiti clad walls, kebab splattered pavements, deconstructed dinners served on anything but plates, (because plates are so 2013 didn't you know) and the place where anything liquid has to be served in a kilner jar or it just simply doesn't count as a drink. What was once the Kray Twins old stomping ground and previously a place to be avoided at all costs, fast forward 40 years and voila! Shoreditch is arguably one of London's most popular and talked-about districts.
Almost absent of chains, with not a Prezzo or Nandos in sight, Shoreditch offers a unique and pretty god-dam reputable dining experience, with restaurants way worth venturing out into the East end for.
After working in Shoreditch for just over a year, it's fair to say that I've eaten my way around a fair few of the restaurants this East-end joint has to offer and I can honestly say that I have never once been disappointed with a meal. So here are my top picks for where you absolutely must dine if you're ever in the area...
Flat Iron77 Curtain Road, EC2A 3BS
£10...add another £2.50 to the equation and you've got yourself a divine steak and chips for a mere £12.50. (Are you sold yet?) Flat iron is the epitome of "do one thing and do it well" with a menu solely consisting of the Flat Iron Steak and the choice of 5 delicious sides and with a steak this cheap and good, it's not exactly difficult to understand why people queue down the road for a slice of the action.
Red's True BBQ
54-56 Great Eastern Street, EC2A 3QR
There's no other place to start with Red's True BBQ than to divert your attention straight to the fact that this American joint sent from the Angels serves none other than (drumroll please...) a donut burger. Yes, I repeat, a donut burger...a juicy meaty burger nestled in-between two sweet glazed donuts, so it's needless to say that this is certainly no place to come if you're counting the calories, as you sure won't find any trace of a 'Skinny Burger' here. What you can expect, is a large meaty menu, offering everything from brisket to pulled pork, to Mac-N-cheese balls, and for the bigger eaters out there, barbecue trays with an array of smoked meats to tuck into. It gets very busy very quickly, so be prepared to wait for a table, but the bar area downstairs makes the waiting a whole lot better. Just please, for the love of god, DO NOT WEAR JEANS.
134-136 Curtain Road, EC2A 3AR
With a company ethos based on three B's: Blues, Barbecue and Bourbon, The Blues Kitchen truly offers the best of American barbecue, with it's menu heavily focused on smoked meats and American sides, with the odd outrageous delicacy such as their Crab Donuts thrown into the mix to jazz things up a little. It's simple but reputable menu is a menu not to be ignored and to assist in washing all this flavoursome food down, The Blues Kitchen also has one of the most eclectic and impressive bars this side of London, offering an array of bourbon whisky's to choose from and a seriously impressive bourbon based cocktail menu. Yes, bourbon based Espresso Martini's are a thing here. A trip to The Blues Kitchen is a night out in itself and certainly not a place to dine and dash. It's impressive decor and comfortable leather booths along with their ever-growing bar menu will leave you wanting to hang around for as long as they'll have you, or until the Bourbon gets to you. You've been warned...
32, Rivington Street, EC2A 3LX
7 Boundary Street, E2 7JE
Sadly I am one of those odd few who (please don't hate me) just do not enjoy Indian cuisine. An absolute wimp when it comes to spice and unable to handle even a lemon and herb nandos (yup, it's pretty bad), the tastes and flavours of Indian cuisine are just simply not for me and are wasted on my seemingly bland taste pallet. So, although I myself have never been to Dishoom, there's barely a day that goes by where I don't hear somebody raving about this place. This Shoreditch branch offers Bombay cafe-style dishes all at ultra-reasonable prices. Unable to take reservations, people don't queue endlessly for just any Indian food and Dishoom offers you a more upmarket upgrade from your local Friday night curry house, without the accompanying hefty price tag. Set in an industrial setting, Dishoom have absolutely nailed their decor and offer a setting bursting with rich culture, all accompanied by their award winning dishes.
81 Great Eastern Street, EC2A 3HU
Owned by none other than the Soho House Group, The Hoxton Grill is Shoreditch's absolute go-to for good old-fashioned comfort food. Set in a (can't believe I'm saying this word) 'trendy' traditional diner setting, with it's red leather booths and American-influenced menu, the Hoxton Grill is not just any old grill, as the place has been completely 'Shoreditched', with it's exposed brickwork and pipes creating a unique, industrial vibe about the restaurant. The menu is uncomplicated, reasonably priced and it's no-nonsense food means there's something for everybody at this joint. When the food's this good, there really is no need for an overcomplicated menu, as the Hoxton demonstrates perfectly. I strongly recommend either the hanger steak or the mac-n-cheese. You can thank me later...
56 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6JJ
This industrial pizzeria serves up what many claim to be "the best pizzas in town". I'm all up for throwing that title out there too, except Franco Manca forever has my heart, so sadly Pizza East you haven't quite stolen that title at this stage. This beautifully decorated joint offers up some of the most creatively topped pizzas I have ever seen, with the mere mention of a pepperoni pizza enough to have Pizza East cowering in fear. In place of the more traditional, simple pizzas, on this menu you can expect to see everything from black truffle, to veal meatballs, to broccoli! And what about the cheese do I hear you ask? well....we're not dealing with any ol' mozzarella cheese here, we're talking talgiio cheese and scamorza cheese (nope, I haven't heard of them either), but who cares? they're bloody divine and these unique and high-quality ingredients are what truly makes these pizzas so special and so highly talked about.
And there we have it, those are my top restaurant picks for if you are ever dining in Shoreditch one evening. Let me know if you have visited any of these restaurants and what you thought of them. I would absolutely love to hear any other recommendations for me to try!