Portuguese pig steals the spotlight: Shoreditch sophistication at Eyre Brothers
23:18 GMT, 17 May 2012
Approaching a hip restaurant in London's determinedly edgy Shoreditch, you'd be forgiven for expecting a jumble of distressed-look furniture and acres of trendy exposed brickwork.
But Eyre Brothers is proper old school – it's celebrating its tenth anniversary this year – and has no use for a try-hard, asymmetric hairstyle.
Instead, it's all shiny chestnut furniture and maroon leather banquettes, with an elegant bar sweeping the length of a wide cream wall.
Laid back style: Eyre Brothers is elegant and refreshingly unpretentious
Starring role: The tender Iberico pig, served medium rare, was as good as any high quality steak
It looks like a classy pub/restaurant with a dash of sophistication – as you might expect from chief chef David Eyre, one of the founders of the gastro movement.
His menu is as appealing as the buzzy atmosphere: authentic and indulgent Iberian food spanning Portugal and Spain, calculated to satisfy a voracious but discerning crowd.
A delicious spatchcocked quail (8) with new potatoes and mint was the perfect start. The plump bird comes marinated in sherry vinegar, raisins, pine nuts and lots of a wonderful olive oil that I could happily have licked off the plate, were it not for that pesky polished atmosphere I mentioned earlier.
The rare grilled beef fillet (10) was beautifully pink and, thankfully, garnished sparingly with fresh horseradish, shallot tarragon, caper vinaigrette and mustard leaves.
Star of the night, unsurprisingly, was an Eyre Brothers signature dish – the mouthwatering grilled fillet of acorn-fed Iberico pig (21).
Polished: The slick and cheerful atmosphere is ideal for a relaxed and delicious meal
The medium-rare meat was wonderfully tender, gently marinated with smoked paprika, garlic and thyme, its punchy flavour standing out as confidently as any top-quality steak. It hardly required its bed of patatas pobres – moreish thin-sliced potatoes with onions, garlic, green peppers and white wine.
The enormous Mozambique tiger prawns in piri-piri (12 each), similarly grilled on lumpwood charcoal, seemed like another unmissable choice. But while they looked spectacular, they were a little rubbery, with taste perhaps sacrificed somewhat for gigantic size.
A shrewder choice might be ordering one of the promising-sounding dishes that require a day's notice. After that fabulous Iberico fillet, I'm aching to try the whole suckling pig; and the paella Valenciana and Andalusian rabbit look equally tempting.
After two substantial courses and plenty of Spanish wine, honey ice cream (5) made an agreeably subtle dessert, with just a twist of sweet, sticky amber running through it.
The flourless orange and almond tart (6), on the other hand, was significantly more decadent (but worth it), a gorgeously squidgy slice with a fantastic texture created from a combination of ground and flaked nuts.
Dinner here is just as the ambiance indicates – tasty, unpretentious fun. If you're looking for artfully ripped jeans and gimmicky cocktails, head down the road, but if you want cool and classic, you've come to the right place.