Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Lardo, Hackney

Admittedly, Lardo isn't the easiest place to get to. Located down Richmond Road, a superior knowledge of the orange line that services East London all the way to West Croydon is helpful. We got a cab. 

Inside, the room is industrial-chic. Dimly lit with choice spotlights, the exposed brickwork made the room unmistakenly East London-cool. A mirrored, disco-ball pizza oven dominates one section of the room and a bar populated by diners on high stools oversaw the action. 

We had a table reserved - I know, RESERVED! - and we started off with some cured meats. Interestingly, no lardo was actually offered but instead some home-cured chorizo and loin of pork, garnished with thinly shaved fennel. The chorizo had a spicy kick and both dishes were good value at £4.50 per 25gr. Starters followed, and a fat bulbous burrata  was drizzled with olive oil. Pierced open, our forks scrabbled to scoop up its oozing centre. 

Arancini was crisp and well fried (possibly the choice starter of the night), its innards studded with ferociously spicy 'nduja. Vitello Tonnato was a dish that, when described, baffled everyone so of course it had to be ordered. Thinly sliced veal, poached until just pink was dressed with a sauce of smooth tuna mayonnaise and flecked with capers. It was pleasant enough to eat but I'm not sure I'm really down with the whole idea of the dish. Veal is a delicate flavour, and tuna isn't a shrinking violet - I know which flavour I'd prefer to taste more of. 

Goats cheese and courgette flower pizza was strewn with mint and only reinforced my thoughts that courgette flowers are just a pretty thing. It was one of my favourites of the pizzas though; the toppings were bright and light. 

A black anise pepperoni pizza was topped with rocket and was rich and meaty; when compared to our other two orders it seemed the most standard. Our wildcard was the clam pizza with garlic and chilli; it sounded interesting but I had no idea how it would go down. The clams arrived in their shells and the chilli kick was evident. Thankfully there was no sign of any cheese, and the garlic and parsley was pungent. A little on the salty side though. 
The dessert options were sparse, and I went for a grapefruit and Campari granita - a bitter, orangey bomb which was just what I needed after all that cheese and meat. 

At around £6 for starters and £9ish for pizzas, Lardo is a pretty perfect neighbourhood restaurant. The service was friendly, the atmosphere relaxed and buzzing without being overwhelmingly loud, sometimes a danger for dark industrial-esque places. While their pizzas aren't the best I've had in London - the bases were a little too shatter-crisp for my liking - I liked the inventive toppings. To be honest though I'd go back just to stick my face in another burrata. That stuff was pretty amazing. 

Richmond Road
London E8 3NJ 

Tel: 020 8985 2683


Chris Pople said...

Booked in here next week, looking forward to it even more now after this and Marina's review.

Share your thoughts on the Vitello Tonnato. I had it at Great Queen St once and wasn't convinced. Cold veal and tuna? Bit odd.

PDH said...

Veal and Tuna sauce is traditional innit but no actual LARDO? Is that right?

Mr Noodles said...

Food looks good and all, but I also find it odd there's no actual lardo. Is there any dish with lardo actually in it?

Anonymous said...

Vitello Tonnato is a classic... I am surprised it didn't hit the spot, or comes as a surprise to you. Cecconis does a very good version... You should try. You should love it.

Hollow Legs said...

Chris - I look forward to your take on it. Veal? tuna? veal? tuna? Hmm.

Paul Hart - I don't know? It wasn't on the menu though else I would have had it.

Mr Noodles - not that I saw.

Anon - Classic or not, I still find the concept odd. Veal? Covered in tuna mayo? Come on, that's a bit strange, no?

Anonymous said...

It is a classic and it is a bit odd but i reckon it works, had it at duck soup last week and it was great.

chloe said...

I loved it though haven't tried the pizzas. I plan to return to try their fantastic sounding brunch menu.

I too found it curious there was no actual lardo on the menu...

Ally Smith said...

Enjoyed the arancini when I went, but the pizzas were just not quite up to some of the other offerings nearby (Homeslice, for example).

The negronis are not to be missed, perfectly balanced!

Still though, no Lardo! Disappointed...

The Grubworm said...

You can reserve a table? Blimey, that's a bit anti-fashion, innit? ;)

It all sounds like the perfect sort of ginger-line neighbourhood resto to me, albeit with some interesting pizzas. I am very intrigued by the black anise pepperoni.

I have to say, i'd struggle to get past that burrata without ordering a second, it looks amazing. Sounds like it tasted pretty good too.

Tom said...

I've been reading the guys behind Lardo's blog for a while (it used to be called Fat Food Taxi - they drove across America eating the hell out of it) and have been really looking forward to hearing about their restaurant.

Glad to hear it is pretty awesome. Great.


Jonathan said...

The burrata looks incredible. And the clammy pizza looks mental - but very tasty if you avoid the shells. Very keen to try it out. And in particular tucking into their chorizo and cured goodies.

Graphic Foodie said...

Ah yes, Vitello Tonnato. On every 80s wedding menu in Italy :) However, cannot for the life of me get my head around shells on a pizza. Must have been a pain to eat.