London Fields is West End’s shiny new gastropub, run by a gun team of professionals. But does it stack up?
There are some venues that you really want to like. For me, London Fields is one of them. There’s a crack team behind the venue, owned by seasoned pros Tom Sanceau, Bonnie Shearston and Jason White. The fitout is gorgeous – all high ceilings, industrial walls and clever, cool little details.
If it’s busy, you might struggle to hear your dining companion, but hey, it’s a pub.
The wine list, curated by former e’cco sommelier Alan Hunter, has local pours (Ravenscroft Verdelho and Golden Grove tempranillo) by the glass, as well as a few interesting international wines and easy-to-drink craft beers on tap.
So we have an all-star team, a lovely fitout and great drinks, but three visits in, it’s just not grabbing me. It’s never a good sign when your waiter starts by listing what dishes on the menu are unavailable that evening. Worse, when it happens on two out of the three visits.
The menu reads well and the dishes have potential, but the execution (and consistency) needs tweaking.
On one visit the food was overseasoned; on a second, it was underseasoned.
Some of the dishes are fine – clams ($18) with parsley and nduja are sufficiently fresh and spicy, with grilled bread to mop up the broth and a good hit of heat from the nduja oil; and bone marrow ($15) is properly cooked and topped with crunchy strands of onion. The updated side salad – grilled cucumber with radicchio and pickled red onion ($13) – does what it says on the box.
Smoked kingfish (pictured) is one of the prettier dishes, served cold with mustard leaf and more of those pickled onion curls, but overpriced at $24. Oversized sweetbreads ($26) were gelatinous in the centre and needed a punchier partner than the pea and broad bean garnish. Treat offal badly and you can put a person off for life.
Two of the desserts were unavailable, leaving us with the olive oil cake with lemon and whipped ricotta, or a roast banana number (both $15). The latter came on a slick of rosemary-infused honey, with quenelles of chocolate hazelnut ganache and roast nuts. The cloying sweetness limited me to a few bites, but a dedicated sugar fiend might love it.
I’m curious to try the bar menu, which holds more promise of proper pub fare, with a wagyu cheeseburger, lamb ribs and battered chips.
As for the rest of it, London Fields makes a great bar, but it has a way to go as a gastropub.