Restaurateurs must be rubbing their hands together with glee that understated decor has become ‘cool’. It must have slashed the cost of opening a restaurant leaving them quids in! Instead of putting the perfect finishing touches and creating a welcoming homely feel the trend is for industrial unplastered walls, unpainted ceilings and rough wooden floors. You are half expecting to see a cement mixer doing it’s thing out the corner of your eye or waiter revealing a builders crack bending as he bends down to pick up a fork.
The rough-around-the-edges décor is not necessary indicative of the food however. One place that takes the unfinished feel to the extreme is Byron in Angel (I actually believe they run out of cash to renovate and thought they’d try their luck). And with a slightly more subtle industrial feel, one of my favourite haunts, Pizza East.
Located on Shoreditch High Street in East London, Pizza East has transformed a spacious industrial warehouse with low ceilings into a super cool and inviting place to hang out. The exposed brick walls and overhead air conditioning ducts give the feeling that you have gone back to the 1930’s.
The food is great; they serve a range of delicious Italian pizzas using traditional and rustic ingredients with a wide selection of toppings. If pizzas are not your thing, the menu has a great selection of antipasti plus two of my favourite dishes which deserve recognition – the lamb meatballs in tomato sauce and the calamari which was very tasty (not too oily and cooked to perfection).
With surroundings more suited to Shoreditch, it was this restaurant that prompted this post. The place looks as if the renovation contractor went on strike with the job half finished. I wonder whether before first opening its doors to the public they had an average restaurant environment which they decided to destroy by pulling down half of the ceiling, striping the walls of paint and revealing some old gas pipes, or conversely whether it was just a building site that they just decided not to properly renovate.
When looking to see what others thought about Byron’s decor, I stumbled across this review which made me chuckle:
‘The only criticism I have is with the decor. Its taking distressed to a whole new level, as Chris described it the first time we went it’s like dining in Chernobyl’
The décor in Byron is not going to be to everyone’s taste but it is definitely worth seeing and of course sampling the menu.
The burgers are very tasty and reasonably priced. I see myself as a traditional burger connoisseur and what I like about Byron is that they keep their burgers simple, cooked medium unless asked otherwise, with the option of spicing them up with extra toppings, sauces and dips. You also have your typical sides of skinny chips or the tastier homemade skin-on ‘real’ chips’, which are a great accompaniment to a perfectly cooked medium pink juicy beef burger. Dishes are well presented – an interesting juxtaposition to decor! This is definitely a favoured burger establishment of mine.
Both places are well worth checking out – we’d love to hear your thoughts if you do.