“Though in this town there is no apothecary, I will teach you about herbs myself, that will be for your health and for your pride.”
This quote from Canterbury Tales is printed on the menu at Tonic & Remedy, where I had the best meal I’ve had in a long time and without a doubt, the best cocktails I’ve had so far in London. It’s a bold statement, but I’m going for it.
Tonic & Remedy is a Searcys restaurant located near Old Street roundabout and is set in an impressive glass fronted building, letting lots of light into the bar/restaurant, giving it a spacious and airy feel. The architecture fits in with the overall theme of the venue, which is to offer fresh, cleverly concocted ingredients, herbs and spices, across their food and drink, very much like gastronomic tonics and remedies. For once, the name of the restaurant actually means something!
We decided not to order any wine with our meal, as the cocktail list was so impressive and extensive, that we felt it would be a travesty not to try as many of them as possible! I recently got into Bloody Marys and so I tried their ‘Bloody Remedy‘ (Absolut Blue vodka, fresh tomato juice, house-made spice mix, dry sherry, celery and cucumber foam and house-made salt). It was just incredible!
The spices in the tomato juice blended with the foam on the top and the salt around the side. It was the perfect Bloody Mary (and the ideal hangover cure, if you happen to be in the area after a big night!)
Tim chose the Ernest Especial (Havana Club 3 Years Old, celery, peach, agave syrup, fresh lime juice, absinthe and black pepper). These are quite unusual ingredients to put together, but the sharpness and pepper worked well.
We also ordered some Sweetcorn Popcorn and Devilled Pork Scratchings to nibble on while we waited for our starters.
I was pleased to see that the food was just as beautifully presented as the cocktails. For starters I chose the Octopus, Black Rice Saffron and Lemon.
Again, the combination of flavours worked beautifully and the octopus was cooked to perfection.
Tim chose the G&T Cured Salmon with Cucumber and Dill, which we were both very intrigued by. The salmon was cut into small pieces and was sashimi-like in texture, but you could actually faintly taste the gin and tonic infused in the fish. It was wonderful!
At this point we moved on to our next cocktails, the Lady Marmalade (Absolut Blue Vodka, Cointreau, orange bitters, house-made grapefruit marmalade, Campari and champagne) and Summer Negroni (Beefeater London Dry Gin, home-made sparkling rhubarb cordial, Aperol, Grapefruit, Sweet Vermouth and Rose).
These were light and refreshing and perfect for between the starters and main courses, although they didn’t have quite as much ‘oomph’ as the previous ones. It would appear I like quite manly, spicy cocktails!!
The main courses really were stunning to look at. I ordered the Charcoal-Grilled Herdwick Lamb Rump with Flavours of Summer.
The lamb was beautiful and everything blended perfectly. Nothing felt too heavy, everything was just right. I have mixed opinions about edible flowers as I think they’re an easy route to making your plate look pretty, but given the vast range of skills and flavours already on the plate, they fitted in well.
Tim went for the Roast Stonebass with Crispy Chicken Wings, Sweetcorn and Girolles. Again, this was another dish we were both quite baffled by. How would fish and chicken work together in a dish? What would hold it together?
But oh my goodness, it worked! It really worked! It’s hard to explain the exact flavours and texture, but a hint of sweetcorn cleverly tied the fish and poultry together, with a light sauce on parts of the plate which gave it a creamy richness. It was one of the best dishes I think I’ve ever had (another bold statement!). Simple but clever, and unbelievably delicious!
We ordered some sides, the H-Ox Fries and Curds and Rainbow Chard with Hazelnuts, but to be honest, we had so much food that we didn’t really need them, and only got through about half of them, tasty as they were!
Next we chose some cocktails for dessert. I ordered the Salted Jimador (Tequila altos olmeca reposado, salted caramel, chocolate liqueur, Jerry Thomas decanter bitters, marshmallow and salt) and Tim ordered the Patience & Thyme (Beefeater London Dry Gin infused with thyme, benedictine D.O.M., raspberry, honey and smoked egg white).
Now I don’t know if the booze was getting to us by this point, but we could have sworn that these ones were stronger. The Salted Jimador was so rich and indulgent, it could have existed as a dessert on its own! But of course, we still went for desserts too. We were fairly full at this stage, but they just looked so good!
I chose the Peach Lemon Thyme and Raspberry. The flavours were pretty fresh and simple (I’m always a fan of raspberry, it’s one of my favourite fruits) and worked very well together, with the different textures of meringue and marshmallow.
Tim ordered the Black Forest Fondant which he said was delicious (I’m not the biggest Black Forest fan, although I would probably have tried some, if it had still been on the plate when I looked over, but he’d wolfed it down!)
Tonic & Remedy really have hit the nail on the head with what they’re trying to achieve with flavour combinations. Everything just works and you can tell that a lot of time and effort has gone into creating these recipes.
And in terms of quality and presentation, it felt like dining from a tasting menu at a top Michelin star restaurant, but at reasonable prices. A starter was around £8, a main course was around £20.00 and a dessert was around £7.00, all of which I consider to be very fair.
The manager informed us that they are changing their menu throughout the year to reflect the seasons and fresh ingredients available at that time – he estimated that around 70% of the menu would be different in winter, for example. What a perfect excuse to return again for a completely different dining experience!
To find out more about the restaurant and bar, you can visit their website here.
I was invited to review Tonic & Remedy by Gribbonberry and Tonic & Remedy but did not receive any payment. All views are my own.