NOTE: THIS RESTAURANT WILL NOT REOPEN AFTER LOCKDOWN.
There’s no shortage of restaurants in the hipster mecca of Shoreditch, but hop over to Hoxton Square to The Frog Hoxton for something really special.
The restaurant, which opened in July 2018, is one of three establishments under the same roof (although technically on different streets), owned by 31-year old Masterchef finalist Adam Handling.
Adam has had a busy few years, having opened the eminently successful Frog by Adam Handling in Covent Garden September 2017, followed shortly by drinks venue Eve Bar.
Just like its Covent Garden counterpart, The Frog Hoxton is all about fine dining in a casual atmosphere. The first thing you notice as you take a seat is the bold graffiti-style mural that covers the wall. A long, open kitchen spans the back wall so you can see the hustle and bustle first hand.
Apart from the brightly coloured mural, the décor is fairly minimalist. The bright, open space is dotted with wooden tables and chairs, with large metal lamps hanging from the ceiling that provides a warm, yellow glow.
The menu at The Frog Hoxton is seasonal and importantly, sustainable. Adam is conscious of food waste and has come up with a creative menu that utilises food that is often discarded, such as vegetable peelings.
We visited the restaurant just before Christmas, and even the decorations were sustainably sourced – the Christmas lights were solar-powered and oranges leftover from the bar were dehydrated and used as part of the décor, along with discarded pine cones from Hoxton Square.
For lunch and dinner, you can choose from either the a la carte or tasting menu. We opted for the 7-course tasting menu, which costs a very reasonable £60 per person, with an additional £60 for wine pairings and £45 for beer pairings. The tasting menu is updated every two or three months to keep things interesting (and seasonal).
We started off our meal with an Adam Handling own-label English sparkling wine from West Sussex, accompanied by some delicious, prettily presented nibbles. I was a big fan of the heritage carrot light bites with roasted hazelnuts, which were made from carrot peelings.
One of the nibbles, the Kentucky fried king oyster mushroom, looked suspiciously like something you would find in a tree stump but was a mouthful of joy: light, well-spiced and crispy. It was originally part of the vegan tasting menu but proved such a hit that it has now become a firm favourite for all and sundry.
We then tucked into one of The Frog Hoxton’s signature dishes: rye sourdough bread with chicken butter and roasted chicken skin. It may sound a little our there, but trust us when we say that it’s a signature dish for a reason.
We also enjoyed a glass or two of Vola Vole organic “bee” wine. The vineyard creates their own bee pollen yeast to use during fermentation of the wine. This is yet another nod to Adam’s focus on sustainability.
For the tasting menu, each dish is presented by one of the chefs or servers, who explains its inspiration and ingredients. This is a lovely touch that made us feel so welcome and is testament to the teamwork and passion that goes into creating this menu.
Other highlights for me were the pork belly with cauliflower cooked three ways (floret, pickled cauliflower stalk and cauliflower kimchi), and the cheese doughnut, which positively oozed with mature cheddar and Parmesan.
One of the things we noticed throughout our meal was the beautiful colours and textures of each dish. The chefs here are artists, not only making the food look delicious, but also ensuring the plates and cutlery complemented each course.
We couldn’t help but sample the optional dessert menu, which included a colourful dish of hot milk cake with cranberry, and parsnip prepared three ways. I excited to discover this dish was presented with an extra helping of pizzas involving dry ice. The parsnip ice cream was sweet and tasty, although admittedly I was too full by this point to eat the crispy parsnip shell.
The Frog Hoxton is unpretentious and the waiters and waitresses were some of the friendliest I have encountered. The food is both beautiful to look at and delicious. There are few places in London you could experience a tasting menu of this quality for the price.
Opening hours: The Frog Hoxton is open Tuesday to Saturday from Midday to 2:30pm and 5:30pm to 10pm, and Sunday from 10am to 4pm. It is closed on Mondays.
Getting there: The address is The Frog Hoxton, 45-47 Hoxton Square, Shoreditch, London, N1 6PD. The nearest tube station is Old Street.