Category: Â Bistro (Â£Â£)Â
The Ten Bells is a lively pub in Commercial Street opposite Spitalfields Market which is infamous for its association with Jack the Ripper and, on a less grisly note, famous for its food. Â Last year, the room above the pub had been taken overÂ byÂ The Young TurksÂ &Â The Clove ClubÂ who created a much raved about andÂ uniformlyÂ loved pop up restaurant. Â I missed out on their months long stint which finished some time last autumn and was now happy to learn thatÂ Isaac McHale from the Young Turks andÂ Giorgio Ravelli (formerly cooking a The Ledbury) are back Upstairs at the 10 Bells, this time with a permanent restaurant.
The menu is short and sweet, fairly priced (starters around 6 pounds and mains around 15) and I basically wanted everything. Â Portions are small, so it is worthwhile going for one of the snacks. Â We went straight to the starters and left the restaurant still a little hungry.
The Salad of Tomatoes, Shiso & Iced Goats Milk (5.5) was a picture of a dish, with stunning colours and beautiful presentation. Â It tasted as good as it looked. Â Several different varieties of perfectly ripe and aromatic tomatoes, all tasting slightly different came with goat’s cheese ice crystals and warm and crispy bread crumbs. I adored the combination of not only the flavours but also the different textures and temperatures. Â An occasional shiso leaf added an oriental touch. Â I did not even get one bite of theÂ Poached Egg, Fonduta & Gherkin (6.2) which probably speaks for the dish.
Like always in the summer, I love vegetables and purely vegetarian dishes, so I decided to try the only mains veggie option on the menu,Â King Oyster Mushrooms, Peas & Malted Rye (14.5). Â This was the only dish which was not fully successful. Â Even though the oyster mushrooms were beautifully cooked and the peas and pea shoots were as fresh as they come, I did not get the far too sour pickled onion and was also not entirely convinced by the malted rye. Â Also, although advertised as a main course, it was more a starter sized portion and left me unsatisfied. Â Brilliant on the contrary was theÂ Smoked Pork Belly, Radishes & Oat Groats (16.5). Â I am not the biggest fan of pork usually, so imagine how good a pork belly must be to leave me in utter enthusiasm. Â I am one of these people (and you can sneer at me for this) who usually cuts off the fat but not at the Ten Bells where I savoured every little piece ofÂ adiposeÂ tissue.
In the spirit of the Wimbledon week, I chose the Ten Bell’s interpretation of strawberries and cream,Â Strawberry Tart, White Chocolate & Elderflower Ice Cream (6.2). Â This was a lovely and light finish to the meal: 2 crispy layers of filo pastry were filled with lightly whipped white chocolate cream and topped with sun-ripened (at least they tasted sun-ripened, even though Â they realisticallyÂ can’t have seen much sun) English strawberries. Â This all was made perfect by a generous helping of creamy elderflower ice cream on top.
The food at Upstairs at the Ten Bells is inventive and unique without losing the comfort factor, and this is often a balance restaurants don’t pull of very well. Â Most importantly, it is affordable and very good value for money. Â I also liked the relaxed atmosphere also helped by the fact that the waiters appeared to enjoy themselves sharing some good-looking Bloody Mary while still serving us well – what can I say, I will be back!
- Food: 8/10
- Service: 8/10
- Ambiance: 8/10
- Value for Money: 8/10
- Chances of Returning: 90%
- Verdict:Â Beautiful creative cooking without breaking the bank
Â There are some more people who very much enjoyed the ‘new’ Upstairs at the 10 Bells: The Skinny Bib, Hollow LegsÂ and Rocket and Squash.
84 Commercial Street