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Restaurant Review: Eastside Inn in Smithfields (or my last meal in London)

One of the best things about leaving London was that it gave me an excuse to meet up for expensive meals with great friends. Obviously as I was leaving London money was no object and I had to go to fancy places (I just didn’t tell Jen). Most of these meals I didn’t blog as sometimes you want to go to meal, not analyse, to give up on the critique and just let it wash over you.

So it was intended to be with Eastside Inn. It was just going to me and one of my best friends – Richey to those who know him well – and the camera was going to sit under the table. I even tweeted that I was going there before which would have been a big no no for my rule on anonymity as I know the owner is on twitter (that said he probably has better things to do than read my tweets).

We had originally intended to go to The Ledbury, or Launceston Place but they were full. And so was every over premiumed fancy ass Sunday lunch gastro-place. I sat there and agonised over where to go and for some strange reason Eastside Inn did not pop into my thoughts. Why?

Two bloggers I absolutely respect and rely on – LondonEater and Grubworm – have raved about the place. And I’ve ignored them. Then I met Mathilde Cuisine and she, a Frenchie, said it was her favourite French place in London. And on and on. The plaudits kept coming but didn’t sink in. Even more than that it is minutes from my flat. However, I finally made it there and what I now really don’t understand now is why they weren’t full. They weren’t even nearly full. They were walk in and get the premium space sitting outside not full.

And the reason I don’t understand why they weren’t booked out for Sundays and Sundays in advance is was that it was relaxed French brilliance. Sit back, enjoy, drink and eat whilst the food sits there in the background making you happy; and ocassionally waking you up from your comfort with its brilliance.  I don’t have much else to say really.  Eastside Inn was just so pretty and good I had to chime in with all the other bloggers and say “I love it too” and take some pictures.

So this is my last blogged meal in London and it is a French restaurant. And that means something I think. Maybe if The Ledbury had had a space that Sunday the end note would be different but at the moment I am in two minds about London. I think it is a brilliant food city. One of the best (and, of course, better than NY). But the food which makes me joyous to be there is rarely British. It is Lond-ish; an entirely different thing (think Turkish in Green Lanes, Korean in New Malden etc.). A city that welcomes with open arms immigration and the tastes and flavours it brings. Because god knows from someone who can just about remember what food was 20 years ago in London we needed it.

That said it was only when I started travelling that I really realised, well, London is good but… And as I write my final post on London in Hong Kong I hope to understand a bit more about the “but” over the coming two years.

Price – £50 a head
Eastside Inn on Urbanspoon

6 Comments

  1. The Grubworm

    Good write up of a fantastic place. It is odd that it wasn't full, but then it is on the fringe of the City. It's been packed on a Monday, empty on a Friday. Weird.

    What's not in doubt is the quality of cooking here. Whether it's bar snacks or Cote de Boeuf, equal love and attention go into the preparation. What they have got spot on is they're ingredients. They source the most superb stuff and second best just won't do. Then they do what they need to do to highlight this quality. It's almost like French style, underpinned by a respect for ingredients that is more Japanese or Italian.

    And i think it is entirely typical that your last meal was such a multicultural mishmash. It's what makes London a great place to live. What London doesn't have (yet) is a widespread and everyday love of great produce (reflected in the lack of the everyday excellence apparent in Spain, France etc). We're getting there, but are not anywhere close yet.

  2. Mr Noodles

    After having had a taste of the bar menu with Grubworm last night and reading this post, I'm definitely returning to the Eastside Inn for a full-on slap up meal.

  3. Tess

    Seeing Tom use the words "just so pretty" warmed my heart. I'm glad your last meal in London was so magical- beautiful photos, too! xo

  4. Tom

    Grubworm – I am fervent in my belief that London is not England and this not just because I am a Southerner. I think it is so different and interesting because of its immigration. That said maybe I should do a foodie trip of Birmingham when I get back.

    Produce is interesting. There has been a flowering of farmers markets but I get the feeling it is much of hte same stuff. I would be interested to see a growth in allotments etc. and the ability to buy that produce. Before I left I saw that people's supermarket in Lambs Conduit… I wander whether that will become anything. It wasn't much of anything when I visited.

    Noodles – I will definitely be revisiting when I get back. I did't mention this in the review but the deserts weren't up to the standard of the rest but I am excited to see what they can become. If they don't get a Michelin star I would be shocked. But maybe they shouldn't get one as they aren't staid… That said Yung Kee has one – hmmm.

    Tess – well I like camp writing : ). It was hard not to take good pictures as it was…. well just so pretty.

  5. Siany

    This is my favourite of your reviews.

    I've yet to go to Eastside Inn, but it's on my list. You've just bumped it right to the top. Gonna miss all your London reviews.

  6. Tom

    Siany – go for relaxed happiness and you won't be disappointed. You'll love it.

    And I promise I'll get back on the reviewing wagon in two years. BUT you just have to visit HK

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