European brasseries are all the rage and new to Spitalfields is Blixen, a welcome relief from the mostly chain-run eating places in the market building. Set in an old bank, it is light and airy on the ground floor with a promise of outdoor tables for summer and a moodier downstairs cocktail bar for evenings. You can eat (and drink) here all day and well into the night. Sit at a bar overlooking the kitchen and watch the chefs, in a booth on the main floor or on a raised plant-filled platform tucked in the corner that looks like a wedge of colonial Singapore.
Blixen has a lovely feel to it, relaxed yet buzzy and the menu with brasserie classics with a British twist such as white onion soup with cauliflower rarebit and souped up dishes like Croque Madame made with raclette and duck egg suit it perfectly. A starter of squid, chorizo & chickpea stew was loaded with a healthy dollop of saffron ailoli and crumbed ox tongue looks like non-threatening crisp, meaty nuggets beside their accompanying celeriac remoulade. Main course sea bream is served with good quality creamy white beans, broccolini and hazelnuts and crispy pork, a melting slap of belly meat with a crunchy roof of crackling with fried spaetzle, quince puree and kale.
Puddings include a nicely bright green pistachio ice cream with lovely crunchy sugared pistachios and lemon shortbread and a crème brulee with prunes. If you are not drinking try a house soda; both the cranberry and vanilla and lemon, raspberry and dill were excellent. Cocktails do just as well before or after a meal, the Ferule Mule mixes citrus vodka with lemon thyme, ginger and fennel bitters and there is a selection of local beers from Hackney, Bermondsey and Bow.