The last time I ate Upstairs at The Ten Bells chefs James Lowe and Isaac McHale were manning the stoves – see here.
Since then, James has moved on to various other “pop ups” and projects whilst he “tries to open a restaurant” (a matter of looking for the ‘right one’, I assume) and Isaac has gone on to open the The Clove Club at Shoreditch Town Hall with Daniel Willis and Johnny Smith.
Cooking duties at the Ten Bells now fall to Chef Giorgio Ravelli. A chef who’s CV includes stints at The Ledbury, the Michelin starred La Table d'Edgard in Switzerland, VAU in Berlin and as a stagiaire at Noma.
We visited on a sunny Sunday lunchtime in July. That weekend we had visited both Michelin starred and some super swanky restaurants but it was this meal, upstairs in an unlikely room above this historic hipster pub that delighted us the most.
With décor that straddles the void somewhere between shebeen and my nan’s dining room, the overall effect could be described as shabby chic on crack – I love it!
As the two chaps from Maisie Broadhead’s “Nipple Pinch” keep watch, the service is relaxed, friendly and knowledgeable from staff that are passionate about what they do and what they offer.
We started with a selection of ‘snacks’ before choosing from the small but perfectly balanced a la carte. The Sourdough was up there with the best and the joys of the signature Buttermilk Fried Chicken & Pine Salt are well known but it was the Razor Clam & Grapefruit Sauce Vierge that I enjoyed the most, a bargain at just £3!
Sourdough & Butter
Buttermilk Fried Chicken & Pine Salt
Razor Clam & Grapefruit Sauce Vierge
Mustard Cured Beef, Cows Curd, Flax Seeds & Granny Smith
Broad Bean Falafel, Goats Curd & Sumac
My Lamb Sweetbread starter was the dish of the day for me. The sweetbreads were deliciously plump and perfectly cooked but it was the delightfully sharp pickled onions and caper sauce that really tickled my taste buds. My wife was very happy with her Mackerel dish.
Lamb Sweetbreads, Pickled Onions & Charcuterie Sauce
Cured & Smoked Mackerel, Pink Melon, Pickled Cucumber & Speck
The mains were good too (but the starters had the edge). I opted for the Charred Leek dish; my wife the Lamb Saddle. Hers was the stronger dish – full of sunny Mediterranean flavours with the surprise addition of artichoke; always a favourite ingredient.
Charred Leeks, Baby Beets, Oat Groats & Nasturtium
Lamb Saddle, Cockles, Confit Tomatoes & Laverbread
A refreshing pre dessert:
Hendricks Gin, Cucumber Sorbet & Lime
For dessert, we were back in the game! Beautiful looking dishes – wonderful flavours and textures. The ‘tempura’ raspberry on mine was a revelation!
Chocolate Mousse, Coffee Crumbs & Raspberries
Strawberries, Jersey Cream, Jelly & Poppy Seed Cake