Not for the first time, and certainly not the last, today's lunch came from Ruby, a first rate cafe-cum-take-away a couple of minutes' walk from the office. Liver and bacon salad, since you ask, punchily seasoned and freshly prepared as I waited in the perfect spot by the door: behind me autumn freshness, in front a massive range and a chargrill, both being thoroughly put through their paces during the lunch-hour rush. And bloody lovely it was too; with places like Ruby round the corner the tricksy brief of a low-carb lunch regime that combines quality and variety becomes that much easier. Weirdly, though, they don't sell curry.
I mention this, more or less in passing, because Ruby is the third business to occupy the cute little spot next to Cantaloupe since I've been working in Hoxton. The last incumbent was called - I think - ktchn, and before that there was a place run by Eyre Brothers. I never went to either, in ktchn's case probably because I was snffy about the name; why I never went to the Eyre Brothers incarnation is less clear - maybe I thought I couldn't afford it, maybe I was too in thrall to those enormous chicken escalope baps I used to get from the place on the corner of square (back then, I thought carbs were my friends...). But whatever the reason, it somehow extended to the grown-up restaurant the brothers eponymously ran over the other side of Great Eastern Street. Fortunately, though, this careless oversight was remedied in an impromptu meal at Eyre Brothers proper last Thursday night.
I confess I was suffering the tail-end of quite a sporty hangover that night, so don't take everything as gospel, but I thought Eyre Brothers was really, really good.
A cheeky glass of Manzanilla took the edge off the discomfort, and I surveyed the room through sleepy eyes: dark wood partitions breaking up the room cosily, a big long bar and kitchen open to the dining area, the beautiful people roped in as waiting staff.... so far so good. And it's also been open long enough for those dark wood furnishings not to betray any of the chill starkness they probably had when it opened. See how I justify my long absence...
From a heavily Iberian menu I started off with razor clams and chorizo. A tiny hint of the grittiness you sometime get from razors, but thankfully none of the toughness that comes with overcooking. The chorizo added a subtle heat to the sherry-based liquor and made for a very satisfying autumn dish. To follow I had the signature fillet of iberico pork, cooked daringly on the rare side of the advertised medium rare. Lovely meat it was too, with hints of smoked paprika (the smell of which permeates the restaurant pleasantly). Rather too many potatoes for my needs, perhaps, but that's a cross I've made for myself so I can't really complain.
Antonia enjoyed her revuelto (scrambled eggs with truffles and some surprisingly meaty wild mushrooms), a tasty lentil side-dish and a Caesar-ish lettuce salad. And we both enjoyed the inevitable bottle of Rioja from a list that seems to cover all corners of Spain and Portugal, and is fortunately itself covered with tasting notes.
So that's another most enjoyably ticked off the list of mysteriously unvisited restaurants. Next stop: The River Cafe, presumably...
Eyre Brothers, 70 Leonard Street, EC2A 4QX. 020 7613 5346