What's the draw
Of all the things that punctuate the London's restaurant scene in the late 2010s, the transition from old into new is possibly the trope that sticks out most. Disused railways arches metamorphose into sparkling breweries and taprooms, old clothing factories transform into speakeasies, and in the shadow of Smithfield Market, a former linoleum factory has become one of the best restaurant openings of the latter half of 2018. Helmed by a former chef at The Dairy, Lino boasts an eclectic menu of pan-European (yes, that does include Britain) small plates, cocktails and wines in a roomy, industrial room that still sings of elbow grease.
What to drink
There’s a cute cocktail list here, which swings towards classics, but having been to a bar immediately before we went straight for a crisp vinho verde that stung with green apple and unripe apricot notes, before diving into a 2017 Samurai Shiraz. The latter was a thoroughly new-school South Australian blend from producer Free Run Juice, which traded the eucalyptus and spice notes you might expect with a warm-climate shiraz for a rich, warming plum jam character.
What to eat
Food here is sparing in its preparation but full of flavour: case in point being the richly herbed croquettes served simply in a pungent streak of thick garlic sauce. Gently braised and charred baby gem lettuce is an incredibly reasonable starter at £2. With a punchy herb sauce and a farmy black olive tapenade, its far from becoming a salad, but the leaves are still firm enough to provide a bit of crunch. We loved a classic steak tartare, providing another hit of garlic in amongst its slick of semi-cured and smoked egg yolk. For our main, we leapt into chef Richard Falk's take on a classic Lancashire hot pot, unctuous and Marmite-y, with slick chunks of braised ox that you could cut with a fork. It’s not every restaurant that'll put tapas staples and hotpot on the same compact menu, but as the surroundings suggest, old-meets-new is very much the order of the day here.
Small plates from £7; wine from £5 by the glass. 90 Bartholomew Close, EC1A 7EB; linolondon.co.uk