** note: Eastside Inn is now closed.
I bought these new tights from M&S the other day. The fact that they were 100 denier and reversible (in purple and black, no less) sent me spiralling out of excitement control. Disproportionately so, but sometimes, you just gotta take what you can get.
So here I was, excited to wear these tights for the first time. They were comfortable and all, and totally groovy in their reversible-ness, allowing me to traipsed around town like hah, you don’t know my secret, you don’t know that the insides of my tights are purple! Purple! Do ya hear me? Purple!
… Does anyone actually care?
Probably not, but stay with me, I will get to the Eastside Inn part of the story.
As the day passes I’m still thrilled with my new tights, but take note, I hadn’t had to walk anywhere very far yet. However at lunch time, I took a stroll up to Wasabi which actually isn’t “far” by any means, but far enough for me to discover a fatal flaw in my new tights.
They Don’t Stay Up.
I’m not sure if you guys have ever had tights that don’t stay up. Or maybe I just need a lesson or two from yo, you homie wit yo jeans at yo knees. But dude, I can assure you that having tights that gradually ride down your legs, slowly but surely reducing your already limited stride, is not a very comfortable thing. Not one bit.
I kind of tried to hitch them back up as discretely as I could amongst the bustling lunch crowd but I think it looked as though I was having some kind of seizure, or at least like I was scratching myself down there in the middle of Wasabi, and neither of those really appealed to me and my vanity. So I bit the bullet and let the tights slide. I bought my lunch and waddled as best as I could with the crotch of my tights halfway down to my knees all the way back to the office.
What has all this got to do with dinner at Eastside Inn? Nothing really. But I betcha neither Mathilde, Laissezfare or Kang spotted that I was sporting a ridiculous fashion faux paz, because by dinner time, I had the waddle down to an art.
An art, I tell you.
Eastside Inn Bistro
So, Eastside Inn! The brain child of husband and wife team Bjorn and Justine van der Horst, Eastside Inn is unique in its layout in that one open kitchen serves two halves of a venue ~ the restaurant (fine dining) and the bistro (casual). I’d heard some great stuff about the restaurant, so when LF suggested we meet over dinner at the bistro, I was all in, 100%, me and my waddle.
Meeting new food bloggers is always exciting for me. Not just to place a face to a name, but I am curious and nosy and just love finding out about all kinds of people, especially those with a similar passion obsession to mine. Mathilde and LF were both a breath of fresh air, not that Kang wasn’t but y’know, new toys and all that.
We settled into a comfortable conversation as is always the case, like we’ve known each other forever. We were open enough to discuss and advise what each other should order and heck, since we’re all family now, when our meals came, we actually all dug into each others. Gotta love them food bloggers
I started with the crab bisque, served with a crab cake, crème fraiche and lime. The bisque was so pungently crabby, which I can imagine may put some people off but oooh, growing up in a crabbing household, I dug that crab odour. The bisque was heavy and thick, like pureed crab “mustard”, which for the nerds amongst you is actually the crab’s hepatopancreas.
Mathilde opted for the French onion soup, declaring it one of the best she’d ever had. Either it really was orgasmic or it could also be because she hadn’t had French onion soup since arriving in the UK 12 months ago. Guess we’ll never know!
The boys ordered the baby squid and game terrine ~ both a unique combination of flavours. I probably preferred the baby squid more – it was incredibly tender and ever so fragrantly laced with a hint of charcoal. The terrine was also a star in its own right and I love the pieces of pistachio scattered throughout.
In a nutshell, the starters were all winners.
I wish I could say the same for the mains. Well, technically, everyone else’s mains were just as scrumptious as their starters, but mine was a bit of a non-event.
LF had initially opted for the Alsace sauerkraut but Mathilde convinced him to order the braised rabbit instead, a favourite dish of hers, one which tops her list of requests when she goes home (sort of like me and fish curry). Why I didn’t also listen, I don’t know but punishment is just and so I was cursed with a painfully bland cavatelli.
It wasn’t that the cavatelli was bad, it was just bland, like really bland, like they’d even managed to take the taste out of the broccoli. I covered it in cracked pepper and then proceeded to eat pepper flavoured pasta with some pepper flavoured broccoli. Whatever, I wasn’t unhappy, but Mathilde (French, straight forward, y’know) brought up my unsatisfactory meal with the waiter, who apologised and removed it from the bill. Interestingly Bjorn later told us that the whole dish was coming off the menu because it just “wasn’t working”. No, it wasn’t.
The braised rabbit, on the other hand, was tender, tasty and Why Didn’t I Order That?! Urgh. Cooked with tagliatelle pasta and a cream sauce, the meat was soft and sweet and although I’ve only had rabbit a couple of times, I think the next time I do French, I’m going to have me a little Bugs Bunny.
The cassoulet was also good ~ heavy, warm and perfect for this weather. A meaty bean stew, there’s really not much wrong it could do. And I mean, it tasted like something, which already gives it a major lead against my main.
Desserts put Eastside Inn back on the map, as if there was ever any doubt! I had the nougat glacé which was brilliant ~ like a log of nougat ice cream, encasing a healthy sprinkling of nutty bits and served with dabs of caramel, strawberry and chocolate sauce.
LF ordered the apple tart, which I’d steered away from simply because I didn’t feel like a thick tart/pie base but wow, this was different: slices of fresh apple, baked on a single film of puff pastry… incredibly light but full flavoured.
The dessert hat goes to the Grand Marnier soufflé though, which looked like it belonged more in the restaurant than the bistro. A light puff of soufflé, accompanied by a ball of chocolate ice cream perched upon an icy throne.
Kang and Mathilde were instructed to create a little hole on the soufflé and drop the ice cream in (much like what I did at Launceston Place). Though they both agreed that the chocolate overpowered the orange flavour of the Grand Marnier, no one could really fault the taste and flavour overall. Truly a wonder and a Michelin star dessert.
So despite the hiccup with my main, the Eastside Inn Bistro was a hit in my books. A combination of factors ~ the comfortable dining room, open kitchen, delicious food, brilliant company and the fact that Bjorn and Justine took the time to chat to us afterwards made the evening all the more special.
Do I recommend it? Definitely. Will I be back? Hell yes. In fact I’m super keen to try the restaurant, where there is no menu but rather Bjorn cooks from the produces acquired that day, guided by an allocated price range (£45, £55 or £65 I think).
And next time I’m not wearing tights.
ps. Heading to LA for a week of work (and play) ~ the blog’s gonna be a little quiet…. I’ll “be berry berry quiet” since we’re in the Bugs Bunny theme today… and I’ll see you next week! I mean next month! God, time flies….
Eastside Inn Bistro
40 St John Street,
London, EC1M 4AY
0207 490 9230