Sitting within the former art deco Dalston cinema on the once gritty stretch of Kingsland Road, EartH Kitchen (the name stands for Evolutionary arts Hackney) is the new venture by the former executive chef of St. JOHN, Chris Gillard and Auro Foxcroft, founder of cultural hub, Village Underground.

The new live music and art space is dramatic in both style and size. The restaurant, which lies beneath tiered seating, is a cavernous space (150 seats for diners) stylishly fitted with bold lighting, large prints of upcoming shows, pastel pink walls and uber trendy wooden furniture. It’s Scandi chic in N16. But you don’t come here to wistfully hope to recreate this sort of decor in your own front room, you come here to eat, and eat you shall.

With 15 years under Chris’ belt working at St John, it’s no surprise meat plays a large role on the menu. A restaurant which built its steadfast reputation on utilising lesser known cuts, at EartH Kitchen, pig’s cheek, ox heart and pigeon all make an appearance. Chris has also created a number of veg-led dishes, using the best available ingredients in line with the changing seasons. The menu is a departure from modern British cooking, and instead features a friendly whack of European influences. EartH Kitchen understands the beauty of minimal ingredients while still banging out harmonious plates of well-balanced grub.

A recent lunch began with doorstop slices of homemade focaccia and olive oil. Cloaked in a heavy hand of salt, the bread was a simple crowd-pleaser. The crispy pig’s cheek (£7) featured gloriously salty and crunchy hunks of pig’s cheeks hiding beneath well-dressed watercress and slivers of pickled onion. It was a textual masterpiece; soft onions, shards of fried sourdough and pungent hot, peppery leaves. Elsewhere, the tiny flavour-packed brown shrimp scattered across ribbons of kohlrabi, fennel and cucumber (£7.50) didn’t put a foot wrong. Light and refreshing, the spring starter was executed with aplomb.

 

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Mains were hearty and wholesome. Hake (£17.50) came grilled, with the soft, iron-grey skin falling with ease away from the bone. Presented on a bed of green beans, fennel and a tangy aioli, the dish boasted simple ingredients with exemplary execution. The roast chicken (£16.50), was cooked with excellence and flair, with crispy skin and a hint of lemon. Served with harissa carrots, kale and roast potatoes that were gorgeously golden-brown, with a crispy exterior and the welcoming sight of a fluffy interior. A mark of a good spud.

In our gluttonous excitement we ordered two desserts: chocolate terrine (£7.50) and banana and chocolate cake with bacon and cream (£6.50). It seemed the waiter had excellent taste after recommending the latter because it was ‘a bit more out there’. The banana and chocolate cake was incredible; two slabs of densely moreish cake served with a dollop of cream, and, a left field arrival of three slices of candied bacon. The cake would have been great regardless of its meaty acquaintance. The chocolate terrine was a pavement slab of utter joy; incredibly rich, this soul satisfying pudding was finished with a layer of brittle to add some much needed crunch to the pudding.

Stylish eating has arrived in Dalston. A cornucopia of flavours and the finest British produce, EartH Kitchen stole my heart, and I’m pretty sure it’ll steal yours too.

EartH Kitchen can be found at 13 Stoke Newington Road, London, N16 8BH.

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