68-80 Hanbury Street E1 5JL
020 3818 3241 / @jagorestaurant
AKA: Supergalactic sharing plates
The deal: If you've been walking around Brick Lane recently, chances are you'll have seen Jago before hearing about it. Looking like a space station designed by easyJet, the huge, airy and very orange restaurant is hard to miss. Inside, it's all '60s retro-futuristic perspex decor, which might seem at odds with its menu: European and Middle Eastern sharing plates. But it's been designed as part of a 'hangs' space for the creative hub and members club, Second Home, upstairs in the same building, so while there's a nod to a casual lunch canteen, it also makes it a cool spot for a big group meal in the evenings. Bonus: they also take reservations.
The food: Sharing is still caring, apparently, as we pooled most of our small dishes together so everybody got a bite of most of the offerings. Clutching on to a little aperitif from the well-rounded cocktail bar, we started off with some small bites - punchy home-pickled guindilla chillies (£3) with some rustic-style fennel salami and cornichons (£6). The kitchen hit their stride with a strong succession of salad and vegetable plates; the highlights being spiced roast cauliflower florets with a tahini and raisin dressing (£6) and a smokey-sweet aubergine dish with almonds and chilli (£7). On to the larger offerings and over-sized pillows of gnocchi were tossed in a fruity and tangy tomato and black olive sauce (£10.5), while a whole skate wing (£14) was a little fiddly to eat, but worth it for a the hit of lemon and chillies that still allowed its freshness to shine through. Onto meatier plates and the pork medallions with a parsley and garlic pesto (£10) were a favourite - juicy, tender and well seasoned and the onglet steak (£12), although a cheaper cut, was cooked well and served with a tangy tarragon butter.
The chef: Rosie Healey
The signature dish: It might be the dish of the moment everywhere else too, but the roast cauliflower really did it for us.
Damage to pocket: You know the drill, "we suggest two or three sharing plates per person", so with a few drinks it clocks up dinner at about £40 a head.
When to dine: Mid-week was pretty quiet and a good time to get a table, but Thursdays and Fridays evenings would be best for a lively dinner.
File under: Mid-week munches, Celebrate good times, Great with mates, Weekenders.