GRACE AND FLAVOUR
Grace Dent would like to Stay Another Day at Eat 17
Some restaurants I can never go back to, usually due to ‘issues surrounding speaking the truth’. These are typically truths that chefs and front-of-house staff are aware of, yet are still incensed that this scraggly haired chancer has dared to speak of. Other venues I return to three times in two weeks, simply because I’m hungry, or in need of solace, or simply because, as the 1980s Irish pop star Feargal Sharkey once almost said, ‘A good burrata, these days, is hard to find.’ I have had so many atrocious dinners in London that once I discover a new dining spot that cocoons me, feeds me and loves me (via food) I’ll sneak in time and again, often ordering the exact same meal. Why change? Why break the spell?
I have homing-pigeon tendencies right now to Lardo in Hackney, St John’s Tavern in Archway, Café Murano in Piccadilly, Barrafina on Frith Street, Leyton Technical in E10 and my latest find, the new Eat 17 restaurant in Hackney. Three times in a fortnight I’ve washed up there when the fridge was empty for a kingly side order of my new death-row request, its tempura soy pomegranate broccoli. Or ‘broccoli gone bad’, as I’m terming it. Small, delicious florets of the vegetable coated in a sticky soy and pomegranate molasses, coated in a batter and deep-fried. Satan’s broccoli. Not remotely one of your five a day. Probably minus one of your five a day. Vegetable negative equity. There’s some great comfort food being served up by the family team at Eat 17. In fact, I’m slightly resentful to be writing this column when I could be there eating the broccoli right now. Or demolishing the soft buttermilk chicken burger with Moroccan coleslaw on a brioche bun (right). Or the chips that are real ‘memories of home’ chunky potato chips with a paprika sprinkling. I’m also a fan of Eat 17’s humble yet excellent smokedham croquettes, and the soothing plates of rump beef with heavenly mash, whipped rosemary butter and a brioche crumb. There’s also a decent brownie with delicate pistachio ice cream, drizzled with a sugar-shock of passionfruit purée. To date I’ve found no bum notes on the menu. Plus the service is warm and generous-spirited. This must be a hard thing to do as so many other venues fall flat.