Soho’s 10 Greek Street comes to Shoreditch
Update 11/01/18 – this restaurant has now closed.
The originally-named 8 Hoxton Square is the sister restaurant of 10 Greek Street, one of my favourite restaurants of 2012. This was reason enough to get me very excited about eating there, so I dragged Templeton Peck, Vicious Alabaster, Socialist Worker and The Squinting Brummie along for the ride. As with 10 Greek Street, its menu changes regularly and draws influences both from Britain and abroad giving it an eclectic feel.
It’s easy to overlook the free bread basket for the table, but that would mean missing out on some delicious carbs. Some slices tasted of fennel, while others were walnutty and others dotted with chunks of sweet, caramelised onions. Vicious Alabaster and I fought over every last crumb.
The Squinting Brummie opted for a series of small, light and simple dishes. The charcuterie board was a petite, but well-chosen selection with the small flecks fruity of ham (sadly out of focus in the background of the photo below) and the dense, lightly salty slices of speck-like ham standing out.
The Brummie’s burrata wasn’t the best I’ve ever tasted, but it was still pleasing with its cool milkiness and clean after-taste.
Monte Enebro is a Spanish goat’s cheese and here it’s been briefly fried in a thin, light batter. The crisp, dainty, oil-free batter allowed the gentle earthiness of the cheese to shine through which was complimented well by the sweetness of the surprisingly fruity beetroot cubes. They were so sweet and fruity, I initially mistook them for quince.
Vicious Alabaster clearly likes eating things with tentacles. I didn’t quite share her enthusiasm for the fried baby squid, but it’s certainly better executed than other versions of the same dish elsewhere – the little cthulhus had a salty fresh zing and were coated in crisp, oil-free batter.
Both Vicious Alabaster and Socialist Worker went for the grilled octopus served with risotto nero. Although Alabaster was a little disappointed with the chunk of octopus, I thought it was good enough – reasonably firm with a salty, sprightly zing to it. The tender medium-grained risotto had a reasonably strong tang to it, presumably due to the presence of squid ink, but the chilli and sea purslane added little. This risotto wasn’t quite the bold selection of flavours it should’ve been, but it was good enough.
Predictably, Socialist Worker ordered a side of fries. They were crisp and not too oily, but were too bitty for my liking. Give me proper chips any day of the week.
Both Templeton Peck and I had toast topped with duck egg and anchovy. The toast was nothing to write home about, nor was the spread of mildly salty anchovy smeared on top. The gently boiled duck egg was runny and reasonably rich, but otherwise this dish was rather disappointing.
Templeton Peck chowed down on a whole lemon sole served with baby fennel and artichokes. Peck was very pleased with it – the mildly zesty veg went well with the light, milky flesh of the fish.
Gorgonzola custard sounds bizarre, but I loved it. The light, fluffy texture really did resemble the consistency of custard, but it had the unmistakable blue cheese tang of gorgonzola. The cheesy bread stick turned out to be the best way of spooning this delectable dish into my gaping gob.
Like some of the other dishes on the menu, the clams, chorizo and prawns in Fino is available in both a small and a large size. The large portion doesn’t embiggen the small, bitty clams. The chorizo was also a little disappointing – at best, it was mildly fatty. The prawns were fresh though, while the thin Fino-based sauce was lip-smackingly good with a lightly spicy, slightly sour and acidic taste to it. It almost makes up for the limp clams and chorizo.
It was a similar story with the sea bass. The fish itself was okay at best, with a mild saltiness to it. This was enhanced though by the tangy, rich olive taste of the tapenade, while the nutty crunch of pine nuts and the sweet raisins provided a pleasing, flavoursome contrast. The accompanying romanesco was well chosen, with its light cauliflower taste not getting in the way of the richly dressed fish.
Socialist Worker and Templeton Peck skipped dessert, but the Squinting Brummie went straight for the chocolate and salted caramel tart. The dense, dark chocolate was pleasing, but the salted caramel was disappointingly muted.
Vicious Alabaster had never tried posset before and liked its moderately thick, creamy consistency. It was mildly zesty, but it was overwhelmed both in volume and flavour by the tart rhubarb jelly layered on top.
I had my eyes for only one dessert – the slice of polenta cake. There was far too much going on though. It was mildly sweet and nutty with a chewy edge and complimented well by the sweet, slightly acidic flavour of the thin marsala-based sauce. All of this was enhanced further when taken with the moderately treacle-ish prunes or the creamy mascarpone, but not both. Attempting to nom it all in one gulp proved to be a conflicting melange of flavours and textures.
It’s early days, but so far the food at 8 Hoxton Square just isn’t as good as it is at 10 Greek Street. It lacks the finessed balanced of fine textures and bold, satisfying flavours that made the Soho restaurant so enjoyable. I expect the kitchen to improve substantially, but for now it’s merely an okay place to eat rather than a must-visit destination. Even so, I’d much rather eat here again than at the neighbouring Red Dog Saloon.
Name: 8 Hoxton Square
Address: 8 Hoxton Square, London N1 6NU
Phone: 020 7729 4232
Opening Hours: Monday-Friday noon-15.00 and 18.00-22.30. Saturday 10.00-12.30, 13.00-15.00 and 18.00-22.30. Sunday 10.00-12.30 and 13.00-16.00.
Reservations: highly recommended.
Average cost for one person including service and drinks when shared between five: £33 approx.