Restaurant review

Restaurant Review: Leroy Shoreditch, London, One Michelin Star

Not so long ago a restaurant called Ellory closed in east London, while almost simultaneously another called Leroy opened just down the road. It was no coincidence; the team behind the first had to close its star-studded doors because the building it was in had been sold. So they found a new place, rearranged the letters and furniture a bit and opened like this.

In the interest of continuity, however, a few months later they had their michelin star, but did it in the charming, modest way that had won them rave reviews and loyal customers in the first place.

The original restaurant was opened in 2015 by former River Cafe sommelier Jack Lewens and Mayfields’ Matthew Young. They practiced a simple dining policy, less is more, emphasizing thrills rather than face-to-face theatre.

A casual dining experience

This philosophy was transposed directly to Leroy. In his review for The Guardian, Grace Dent described Leroy as a “dark, loud, naughty wine bar with a nice menu…where no one can tell I took my shoes off”. Punters and critics alike often celebrate how the restaurant carries with it the DNA of the Shoreditch of two decades ago – unpretentious, experimental and just a little bawdy.

An early evening visit on a summer afternoon, however, offers a less rowdy experience than that described by Dent. Bathed in the soft evening light, with the music still low, dining at Leroy’s is a relaxed experience. The interior is understated without being spartan and the staff are friendly but by no means intrusive. They offer advice and tips, and as much information as you could want to know about wine, right down to the winemakers’ first names, if you want. But they can also skim it all off with just the headlines if you’re not wine-inclined.

Of course, many people come to Leroy for its wine list, which is predominantly European and has been carefully curated — an unsurprising fact given that the property is largely staffed by sommeliers. The list changes with the seasons, so there are always plenty of options to go with whatever you eat, and for those who prefer grain over grapes, there’s also a good selection of craft beers and cocktails.

Gnudi with roasted tomatoes and pine nuts

quiet genius

The food though – that’s what really takes your breath away. The menu is constantly changing and evolving, so what this reviewer experienced will offer insight into what can come out of the kitchen rather than what always comes out. For us at least, an entrée of deviled eggs kicks off a promising opening, with its mustard mayonnaise ice cream cone.

Then comes a first highlight that highlights the discreet genius of Leroy: a salad of Italian beans, gorgonzola, peaches and almonds. Simplicity itself, but more greedy.

Alongside it, the gnudi bathed in a roasted tomato sauce and garnished with pine nuts is a smooth mixture whose components bring out the best in each other, the sweetness of the tomatoes, the rich cream of the gnudi and the hazelnut buttered pine nuts.

Two fish dishes followed: a Caesar salad with smoked eel, garnished with crispy chicken skin, then another favourite: a slice of wild trout served with a fried oyster and tartar sauce. This was the hardest dish to share, partly because it’s not easy to subdivide an oyster and partly because my dining partner and I wanted it all to ourselves.

The interior at Leroy is sober without being spartan

Visibly suspicious of each other, we ordered a dessert each – him the peach melba, me an apricot dish (presented in both compote and sorbet) sitting on a bed of white chocolate and garnished almonds.

Pairing wines we loved included the Antiphon Tetramythos Peloponnese, a juicy red made from native Greek grapes; the Vigneti Tardis, a brilliant natural wine from Cilento in Campania; a beautifully vibrant Cantarada de Las Mozas, which felt a bit like a break from the more classic Rioja styles, but welcome; and a wonderfully fresh Plaisance Penavayre – a refreshing rosé with surprising depth.

Two madeleines finish the meal, and we are off. Ellroy is dead, long live Leroy.

Restaurant Leroy Shoreditch, 18 Phipp Street, London;