Herdwick Lamb with Sweetbread. Stone & Hay Ice Cream. Just two unique items on the tasting menu at Christoffer Hruskova's North Road Restaurant. Discover how Great British Chefs blogger Chris Osburn concluded it was “a mash up of head-to-tail phenomenon St John Bar and Restaurant and Copenhagen’s Noma”.
Blog post & photography by Chris Osburn
Clean. That’s the word, the concept, the feeling that kept coming to mind during my epically epicurean journey along North Road ’s seven course tasting menu. The other recurring thought I had while dining my way through this seven course scenic feast was that eating at North Road was a whole lot of fun.
So, at the end my meal, with the honour of sitting at the bar for a quick chat with chef Christoffer Hruskova, how did he sum up the food that comes from his kitchen? Clean. And how does Christoffer hope guests think of his restaurant? … As a place to come to have fun.
With the guiding light of one Michelin Star shining as a beacon of high standards, creating plates that are as playful as they are elegant is taken extremely seriously by Hruskova and his kitchen crew.
North Road is a relatively recent addition to the Clerkenwell club of upscale dining establishments. Located on St John Street, its name harkens the pre-Roman past when this very same thoroughfare marked the southern extent of the Great North Road trading route between London and Edinburgh. Acknowledging the essence and origins of its setting and intimating the breadth of Britain as a source of inspiration, Danish chef Hruskova offers modern Nordic cuisine masterfully made with British ingredients.
Think of this restaurant as a mash up of head-to-tail phenom St John Bar and Restaurant (which coincidentally is just across the street) and Copenhagen’s Noma. Nice mix! And Hruskova does it right.
From surprise ‘snacks’ that come to the table smoking and to be eaten by hand to the petit fours presented as a potted plant (and again to be enjoyed without utensils), North Road adheres to haute cuisine protocol while finding loopholes that allow fine dining to be more relaxed and inventive. The North Road folks work hard to reward customers with an experience that’s different and more exciting than usual. Heck, the caramelised butter served along with the cloth bags full of freshly baked spelt and rye muffins yielded reason alone for me to want to revisit North Road. And that was before my first course even made its way to the table.
But then those courses did start rolling out. And one after one, I was wowed. Highlights? Hmmm … if I had to mention just one dish, I’d had to go with native lobster and buttermilk served with cucumber and nasturtium: a taste of midsummer, of green, of the rural English countryside.
However, you know what? I don’t have to mention just one dish. So … Herdwick lamb and sweetbread with sea lettuce, sea kale and coastal herbs was tender and savoury with a springy brine taste. And ‘stone and hay’ ice cream (yet another hands-on dish with no spoons provided) was a romp of a fresh and flavourful dessert that’s best tried for yourself.
If I’ve made North Road sound like some kind of wacky food circus, it’s not. Servers were enthusiastic and friendly during my visit, but held an air of formality and did what they were supposed to do … and then got out of my hair. There was no clowning around. The dining room – pure Danish design – affirmed that ‘clean’ feeling I mentioned earlier. North Road is worth remembering for special occasions. Rest assured, you can have a romantic dinner for two here or a family meal round a big table. And I can’t think of another fancy restaurant in town better for a break-the-ice sort of situation.
Chef Hruskova told me that he want his restaurant to be an ‘exciting’ and ‘not stuffy’ place to enjoy dining out. He has succeeded.
North Road is located at 69-73 St John Street, EC1M 4AN. The seven course tasting menu costs £67 (there’s a five course menu for £60). A serving of British artisan cheeses may be added for £12.
Visit the restaurant online at www.northroadrestaurant.co.uk.
Blog post & photography by Chris Osburn