The Frog in Hoxton: Intriguing culinary experimentation in the heart of East London
Intriguing flavours and beautiful presentations: award-winning chef Adam Handling knows how to surprise and please his guests. His new Hoxton venture – the largest project so far, which replaces the tiny Ely’s Yard site – is a splendid showcase of his innovative cooking style, paired with fresh produce.
There are two additions to the package that are worth mentioning. Bean & Wheat, a coffee shop/deli facing Old Street, offers freshly baked delicacies and a list of circa 100 beers. Descending from the main restaurant in Hoxton Square, you can also find also atmospheric whisky bar the Iron Stag. The three venues are connected, all following the zero-waste philosophy of the company (which uses the “waste” at Bean & Wheat) and decorated in line with the edgy trends of the area – featuring the works of young artists Katy J Dobson, JJ Adams and Mr Cenz, to name a few.
The doors of the Frog open into a spacious environment. We went for the tasting menu, the best way to sample some of the wide variety of dishes cooked up in the kitchen as well as the extensive wine menu. And to avoid the difficulty of decision-making, the drinks were paired by the house.
The meal began with the Scottish Porn Star, a fresh cocktail lightened by Super T Irn Bru. As the starters arrived, the first glass was filled with a citrusy Champagne Lallier Grand Reserve. The Crispy Beer Chips were dipped into a smooth cream of smoked cod roe, oil and beer. Alongside this, we had the BBQ Heritage Carrot, the tender core laid on a bed of roasted peel and topped with hazelnut and mint. The plain sourdough which arrived soon after served two purposes: to assist in mopping up the preceding plates and to accompany the next one. The chicken butter, placed at the centre of a signed stone, was a melting finesse.
We continued our dining experience with four mains. First, we tasted one of the most unexpectedly delicious servings of the night: Celeriac, Yolk, Apple, Dates, Summer Truffle. The chef reached a perfect balance of ingredients in the creamy filling. The truffle found the right companion in the fresh rosé Can Sumoi, a lightly sparkling Canarian wine aged for only four years.
Misled by the innocent custard cream appearance of the shrimp tartlet, we dug into the dish easily. Although not one of the hottest on the market, this main was still rather spicy and full of flavour. The Circumstance Sauvignon strengthened the intensity of the seafood.
The plaice with crab, potato and schnitzel was well-executed, although a feebler note in the music so far. A Mâcon Villages of the Domaine Guillot-Broux was chosen to lift the delicacy of the fish.
Luckily, we left some space for the succulent Pork and Cauliflower. Like everything at the Frog, nothing was allowed to go to waste. That’s why both belly and skin were included and then topped with a sauce made from the fat of the cooking meat. Part of the cauliflower was steamed, whereas the rest was used to create the kimchi. The matching red for this particular dish was the Jamsheed “Illaj” Syrah, from Yarra Valley.
Left to the diner’s choice were the extremely cheesy doughnuts. To allow for a short break between courses, we were offered an organic basil sorbet – a great way to refresh taste buds.
Given that we had laid eyes on them from the beginning of our meal, the dessert trio arrived laden with our expectations, which it turned out were to be completely satisfied. The Chocolate Tofu was surrounded by cherry prepared in three ways, which enhanced and completed the cocoa-induced pleasure. Finished with misty leaves of basil frozen in nitrogen, the White Chocolate with Cucumber and Dill actually stood out more for its showy entrance than for its particularly impressive taste. The Strawberry Panna Cotta was definitely the other go-to sweet finale, with zesty lemon absorbed in a soft concoction of yoghurt and oat.
A trio of drinks was poured to complement the puddings: different kinds for the various genres of sweetness. We sampled a young plum liqueur, the Kamoizumi Umelicious Sake, a bubbly nectar of Rude Mechanicals “Suck-It-And-See”, and a Cordon Cut of Mount Horrocks, characterised by lime notes.
At the Frog in Hoxton, the charming presentation of the dishes is perfectly matched with remarkable flavours and cool East London vibes. The restaurant offers a fine-dining experience rooted in intriguing culinary experimentations rather than ostentatious appearance, confirming Adam Handling’s incredible talent.
★★★★★Food ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Drinks ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Service ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮
Photos: Maria Barrios
To book a table at The Frog, 45-47 Hoxton Square London N1 6PD, call 0203 813 9832 or visit their website here.