Opening at the end of 2018, LINO has been met with rave reviews with Jay Rayner even going so far as to say it epitomised 2018. It’s a collaboration between the Wright & Bell team (whose first site was The Kitty Hawk) and Richard Falk, formerly head chef at Clapham’s much-loved The Dairy – so stakes are high. Here he’s set out to make everything from scratch – bread, botanical infusions for cocktails, the lot. We arrived with suitably high expectations.
There’s no doubt that this is a gorgeous space (although sadly we couldn’t see any remaining lino from its former days as a lino and carpet warehouse) and the layout feels oh-so-modern. 12-foot high double doors open up onto the minimalist space, at the centre of which sits a clover-shaped, waxed tulipwood bar, which has been designed especially for the space. Around that pastel velvet armchairs and tables are dotted about for those wishing to eat but there were lots of drinkers propping up the bar the night we were there. The result is a relaxed one, with the impression that food will arrive when it arrives, you’re here for the night, so sit back, relax and dive straight into that wine list, via a couple of cocktails – make ours a barrel aged negroni, thanks.
As everyone before me has commented, a clear stand out dish is the sharp sauerkraut and montgomery cheddar croquettes which are delivered under a blanket of parmesan and atop a decadent truffle mayonnaise for dipping. You WILL fight for the third. Crispy oysters with wasabi mayo were pleasant enough but didn’t blow us away. Sadly our favourites are still from Hackney’s now deceased Carte Blanche.
However that was the only ‘meh’ note for the rest of the meal. Because what we really liked about this food was that you’d be eating a bite, and then you’d come across the swirl of sauce to make everything pop. Be it the black garlic and date glaze hidden under the beetroots or the shock of wild garlic in the black rice and courgette risotto. It’s food to make you sit up and take note.
Crowd pleasing burrata features on just about every menu in town and for good reason – people love it, even in its simplest form. It requires very little to win you over. As such we’ll often pass when checking out a new restaurant because once you’ve tried it once, you’ve tried it right? Wrong. It’s been reinvented here – creamy blobs of cheese are nestled in a lightly spicy nduja sauce with leafs of bitter, red-speckled castelfranco (also known as the edible rose). Pumpkin seeds, pine nuts and orange elevate it further. They bring us some of that homemade bread so we can wipe the bowl clean. As you can tell we gravitated towards a lot of the veggie dishes, so if you don’t eat meat you’ll be well catered for, however we also enjoyed a piece of Pollock, served on crushed new potatoes, salty samphire and Norwegian butter sauce.
A baked st cera was delivered to the table next to us with the most deliciously pungent waft making its way over to us – making us want to start the meal all over again.
Dessert is well worth sticking around for and despite my guest insisting she wasn’t having one, managed to devour the lot once succumbing to the first spoon. Try the warm chocolate mousse with milk ice cream and you’ll understand.
At the moment this funny little spot by Smithfield Market is a little tucked away and hard to find, but find it people should.