237 Lower Clapton Rd E5 8EG
020 7686 6080 rootdownlondon.com
AKA: Clapton's coolest new kitchen
The deal: We're slowly starting to see the wealth of great independent restaurants and bars edge up from lower Clapton to upper Clapton, and Rootdown (handily positioned next to the Clapton Hart) is another great example of this and a brilliant addition to the 'hood. It opened up around the beginning of April and manages to marry both a homely yet effortlessly cool vibe - the turntables and vinyl were out when we visited and we were loving the soundtrack to a laid-back dinner. Chef Ben Scales runs the place with his sister, Becca, at the front of house and this family affair is perhaps what gives this place the comforting edge over other restaurants in this area - you genuinely want to hang out, chat and get merry at the venue they've carefully curated.
The food: Being East London, the food is naturally all organic, sustainable and local where possible, which is always a good start. The dinner menu changes roughly every two weeks and covers off dishes with an Asian touch through to some Middle-Eastern inspired plates. Following the trend of many restaurants right now with a signature doughnut dish (the crab ones at Chiltern Firehouse, the ox cheek at Duck & Waffle or Ceviche's pumpkin balls) we started with Rootdown's smokey chickpea doughnuts (£6) which were almost falafel-like and served with a great roast garlic and Greek yoghurt dip. The perfect snack for a sundowner. We shared a triumph of a main dish for two - juicy pork chops caramelised with chilli jam, served with dreamy tahini-fried halloumi, tabbouleh, orange and fennel salad, labneh and rainbow chard. This would happily feed three people and is a bargain at £22 for the whole dish. Desserts are a little out-there, but who wouldn't love a sweet Yorkshire pudding with rhubarb compote and banana parfait (£4.5)? We obviously cleaned the plate.
The signature dish: Their pork chops sharing plate looks ready to become the stuff of legends.
The chef: Ben Scales
When to dine: It's pretty much an #allday operation, except for Mondays, when they're closed. Mid-week evenings will be a good time to stop in for dinner and on weekends their brunch menu looks great too.
Damage to pocket: Starters clock in at about £5 each with mains at around £11 each, so with some wine (can we recommend the Portuguese vinho verde?) it'll be about £30 a head.
File under: Great with mates, Weekenders, Brunch, Date Night, Mid-week munches