One of my favourite companies is the Soho House group. Their private members clubs are second to none – an evening on the roof terrace at Shoreditch House with its swimming pool and loungers is hard to beat. The group owns a number of restaurants including Chicken Shop, which I wrote about recently.
Last week I was kindly invited to review Pizza East. I walk past the Shoreditch restaurant every day to get to work, and therefore rather naively believed (given the name), that this was the only one. I’ve since learned that they are also based in Notting Hill/Portobello Road, Kentish Town and also overseas in Chicago and Istanbul.
I was invited to the Portobello Road restaurant which I was particularly excited about, as I really don’t get to spend enough time in West London. After battling the Notting Hill crowds, the lovely restaurant, with its blue and white awning, felt like a little jewel amongst the hectic market.
The restaurant was pretty much full when we arrived just after midday, as we soon learned Pizza East offers a great brunch menu. There were lots of families with young children, who were some of the best behaved and well mannered I’d ever come across in a restaurant, happily tucking into their eggs and toast.
It has a rustic but airy feel about the place, with a roof terrace upstairs. You can see the chefs working away at the kitchen at the far side of the restaurant, with some of the food on display, which I loved!
We ordered from the All Day menu and I am very pleased to say that Pizza East is not just about pizzas. Don’t get me wrong, pizzas are one of my top guilty pleasures, but it’s nice to have the option of other dishes, especially for starter and dessert, that are different from your typical Italian restaurant.
We started with some Marinated Olives and Marcona Almonds – an incredibly generous portion.
For starter, we tried the Bone Marrow Bruschetta. I was intrigued by how this would be served – bone marrow seems to be in fashion at the moment. You may have read that I first tried it earlier this year in Paris, and it was love at first taste. I could tell it was stupidly fattening but oh wow it was good. Every time I see it on a menu now, I just have to have it.
The dish at Pizza East was very attractive to look at, which is an achievement, as bone marrow isn’t exactly the prettiest thing. Served on toasted bread with parsley, capers, red onion and a light dressing, the flavours complemented each other perfectly! The fattiness of the bone marrow was rich and indulgent but the sharpness of the capers and onion and fresh taste of the parsley worked beautifully together.
For main course, we ordered a pizza and a non pizza dish, so we could experience the best of both worlds.
I chose the Venison Meatball, Prosciutto, Sage and Cream Pizza.
I’m a big fan of venison – it’s packed with beautiful flavour but is a bit leaner than other meats. The pizza was delicious – the crusts were big and crispy and the centre was quite thin and soft, just how I like it. The flavours reminded me of the venison sausage rolls I made earlier this year, but the main difference was the sage cream – this gave the dish an additional flavour and stopped it from being too dry. I tried some of the pizza with chilli oil, which gave it a nice kick and worked well.
Tim ordered the Salt Baked Salmon (one of his favourite fish) with a side salad.
It was quite a big portion of salmon, as you can see from the photo above. With this method of cooking, the outside of the fish is coated in a thick layer of salt which, when cooking, keeps the moisture in the fish. And it certainly was cooked to perfection. It was served with a gorgeous lemon and garlic mayonnaise with I only tried towards the end of my meal – I wish I’d tried it earlier, I would have shovelled it onto my pizza!!
For dessert, we went with the waiter’s recommendations – the Salted Chocolate Caramel Tart (one of their most popular puds!) and the special, which was a sundae style dessert of champagne jelly, strawberries and vanilla ice cream.
Normally I go for anything chocolate-based for dessert, and presumed I would prefer the tart. But actually, while it was lovely, the sundae really won it for me. It was great to look at (an Instagrammer’s dream!) and so light and refreshing for a hot summer day.
We ended on some Pimms (it was Wimbledon week after all!) and we were well and truly stuffed and satisfied! Three courses of delightful food.
What I really need to call out is the incredible service. Yes, the staff knew I was reviewing the restaurant, but they went above and beyond some other restaurants I’ve reviewed. Everyone was incredibly friendly and helpful, offering great recommendations. The chefs were calm and collected in the kitchen. It was just a very relaxed environment, which is impressive considering the place was full and it was a hot day.
I was expecting to enjoy Pizza East, but not as much as I actually did, I was really blown away. It was superb and I would highly recommend it. I can’t wait to go back!
They’re also offering a ‘4 to 7’ menu from Monday to Thursday, where many items of food on the menu are £4, such as the seabass carpaccio (definitely have my sights on that for the next visit), pork with salsa verde and burrata with aubergine and tomato, and the cocktails are £7, including margarita and mojito.
You can find out more on their website here.
I was invited to review Pizza East Portobello Road but did not receive any payment. All views are my own.