St Leonards in a nutshell:
A new, maverick fire-and-ice restaurant from Jackson Boxer and Andrew Clarke, of Brunswick House, in the heart of Shoreditch.
Between chef-patrons Jackson and Andrew there’s quite the glittery culinary CV, having worked for Margot Henderson, at The Salt Yard, The Square and St John, amongst others. But their latest project together is unlike anything either have done before.
What’s the vibe?
A far cry from the grandeur and antiquity of Vauxhall’s Brunswick House, St Leonard’s is a vast and underdressed space in the grungy end of Shoreditch. Living trees add a bit of colour to the sparse, concrete-chic decor – wooden tables adorned only with cutlery, crudely pressed linen napkins, and tortoiseshell tealight holders. Funky, industrial chain lights cast pretty shadows.
What’s the food like at St Leonards?
Expect flavours and combinations here that you won’t have tried before and a lot of love for pork. There’s a dramatic, large, log-fuelled open fire which produces small plates of flame-scorched margarita onions, with a tuna bone (yes, you read right) caramel (sweet, umami, sticky) and specials such as Swaledale lamb leg, slow roasted and rosy, with Vesuvio tomatoes and anchovies.
There’s also a raw ice bar where oysters come natural, dressed or, with help from the hearth, flamed. Ours come warm from the fire with a lardo crumb – every bit as mind blowing as you might imagine – but still not as good as the single cherrystone clam. It’s worth its eye-watering £9 price tag – sweet, chubby and drinking in its szechuan oil dressing and fine dice of coriander stalks.
There’s plenty more worth ordering. Smoked eel and foie gras custard with pork rind is like the punk sister to an elegant and restrained chawanmushi (a Japanese savoury egg custard). Sides, too, shouldn’t be shunned. Hispi cabbage – uncontested king brassica – is crowned with more pork fat and an XO crumb. Sprouting broccoli is slathered in delicious, dainty scraps of ham knuckle and aggressive smoked chilli.
And the drinks?
Bitter is the theme when it comes to apertifs – Cynar and Kamm & Sons spritzes, and Suze, get star billing, alongside sherry and vermouth. The wine list is well annotated with full tasting notes, which make navigating the lesser-known bottles a dream.
olive tip: Desserts are no less ballsy, so don’t skip, even if you don’t think you have a sweet tooth: the salted caramel and East India sherry tart with cardamom ice cream is the best thing on the menu. And, trust us, it’s got a lot of competition.
And the brunch?
Snack on next-level cheese toasties, where slithers of sourdough sandwich comte cheese, with a side of sweet-yet-punchy leek-top kimchi. Bacon and eggs come reinvented, with blushing-pink slices of bavette steak and a crisp fried egg lifted with sweet corno peppers. If that doesn’t fill you up, order a side of generously peppered fries. Savoury is the way to go, but if you want something sweet, go for grilled brioche with a dollop of funky farmyard ricotta and gently stewed rhubarb.
Blood marys come laced with beef stock and forest salt for a heady umami kick, but if you fancy something booze-free, the house-smoked mule pairs lemon juice with ginger ale and smoked clementine for a zesty start to the day.
70 St Leonard Street, Shoreditch, London EC2A 4QX