An exciting new venture from the team behind Bistroteque and Shrimpy’s comes The Ace Hotel‘s restaurant – Hoi Polloi. This was my second time over to 100 Shoreditch High Street. The first time I worked my way down the list of cocktails, I managed six. That’s half the list! They’re really good, different, but not too weird. One of my favourites has to be the Meshigener Palone – Absolut, almond & vanilla jam, pomegranate (pictured). It initiates itself with a smooth valour but then as you swallow, the tight spark of the lemon gives a slight burn. It’s sharp, but really good.
The feel of the place is quite unique. It’s a low-lit, Art-Deco, late 50’s, spacious floor. Booths are the feature for tables and high ceilings exude a feeling of wealth. It feels like a flashback to a real Mad-Men haunt. The newspapers as the menus, therefore, really add a wonderful touch, making it feel more of an experience, rather than just dinner.
Whilst the decor is from a different time, the waiters are in a uniform that boasts a skater jumper and casual trousers, I presume to remind you that whilst you feel like you’ve been transported to yesteryear, you are still in East London. It’s a lovely twist bringing in the modern and intertwining it with the old. The hosts however are in keeping with the decor. Exceptionally smart and prim.
As we were being seated we were immediately asked if we would like water; still, sparkling or tap. Ah, well that’s refreshing, to be offered tap as opposed to the pushy up sell. Delightful. And no glimmer of dissatisfaction on my choice of tap either. When choosing drinks we put in an order of Chickpea fritters with tarragon yoghurt. I had tried them before on my cocktail tasting adventure and they were fabulous. Disguised as a fat chip, they are fluffy inside, with a thin crisp coating. The taste is mild and surprisingly unlike hummus. The dip is a smooth and irresistible treat. A must try!
Bread and butter was brought over as we were perusing the paper; a mixture of types, but all in all it was only ok, not incredible. For starters we chose to share the Crab salad with radish & toast. A great beginner. The toast was thin and crisp, like Melba. The crab was especially fresh, ever so lightly seasoned. Alongside it was a whipped fish cream that pumped up the flavour well and could be easily used as the base for the little open sandwich. What was described as just ‘radish’ in the description, was actually a small salad including cucumber, with a delightful sweet pickle dressing that gave the boost of flavour to the dish that it needed.For the main course we chose the Skirt Steak with onion fritter & dripping chips and the Hoi Polloi hamburger that was also accompanied by dripping chips. The former was my least favourite dish of the night. The steak was cooked medium, and whilst it did have a strong smokey barbecue taste, which I think was a little too strong, the meat was a little chewy and not that full of flavour. A little disappointing. The onion fritter was a welcome delight. Sweet onion jam encased in a crispy breadcrumb batter.
The burger really was the winner of the night. The bread was how you would imagine a Big Mac if it had been made with high quality flour, egg and sesame. It was soft, a little sweet but not glistening with grease, it was magnificent. The meat was a good blend, not overly seasoned or lined with onion and crumbs but a good solid hunk of meat, equally not that greasy, but juicy of course. The salad inside the burger was effortlessly dressed and because all the ingredients were such thin slivers they molded themselves into the burger discreetly giving a deliciously refreshing balance to the dish. The mayonnaise, which at first I thought was garlicky, was actually truffle. It was incredible, I mean really amazing. It totally sealed the burger and made it complete. Easily the best choice of main. The chips were fluffy, decadent and had a meaty twist, they were after all dripping chips. Honestly I barely managed half of them, not for lack of desire, more for the lining of my waist! And I needed to keep room for dessert…We were recommended the Chocolate Cambridgeshire cream for dessert by our waiter. I’m always a fan of a light nod in the right direction by the staff. Not only does it show that the staff know the menu well, but it also helps when there are a few choices. We followed his suggestion and it definitely did not disappoint. The cream was a rich, thick mousse that sliced like a cool butter. It has to be a sharing dish, as to polish this off would not only be a feat, but also very greedy! It was accompanied by some hazelnut ice-cream that tasted very home-made. A little crumbly and grainy, but despite texture, a nice taste. There was also some crushed hazelnut and what looked like green olive oil, but didn’t taste of anything. I’m not sure what that was. It seemed that if you were to pile these ingredients together you would result in a very exclusive cousin of a Ferrero Rocher. Needless to say it was pretty damn good. Despite the elite look of the place, the service and the atmosphere is relaxed and effortless. There isn’t any pretence or elitist attitude at all. It was kind and ever so professional. One of the hosts came to check on us near the end to get feedback, she took things on board and gracefully accepted the praise. It seemed like she genuinely cared too. Go and experience it for yourself and you’ll feel anything but Hoi Polloi.
100 Shoreditch High Street, London, E1 6JQ
020 8880 6100
Follow them on Twitter @WeAreHoiPolloi