What's the draw
Outside the glare of the Michelin Guide's spotlight, Adam Handling is quietly building a fine-dining empire in London. Having closed his first restaurant as chef-patron, The Frog E1 at the Old Truman Brewery, it's now risen, phoenix-like, as The Frog Hoxton. The site comprises a bigger, artier restaurant, downstairs bar Iron Stag, and adjacent café Bean & Wheat (built not just to serve coffee and beer, but to make snacks out of the restaurant's otherwise wasted produce), and is a welcome return to East London for Handling's eclectic, theatrical style of cooking.
What to drink
An aperitif, a nightcap or both at downstairs bar Iron Stag – a collaboration with cocktail maestros Matt Whiley and Richard Woods, no less – is ideal. Upstairs, you'll find the Mizawhaaaaat cocktail – made with fig-leaf-infused Monkey Shoulder whisky and topped up with crisp pineapple soda – and the Scottish Porn Star, a vodka drink enlivened with a slightly sarcastic addition of Super Tennents and Irn-Bru (Handling is nothing if not a proud Scotsman). Wines here are eclectic, many of them natural – we loved a crisp Champagne Lallier to kick us off, all bone-dry, green-apple-skin freshness and fine bubbles, and a chablis with custard notes and a zingy lychee edge.Tweet
What to eat
The room is loud, the kitchen is open and the service is enthusiastic – which means this is no hushed cathedral of food, but a lively night out. A la carte is definitely an option: barbecued peas with beans was a big hit of grassy, chlorophyll freshness offset by a vibrant char from the ceramic barbecue in the kitchen; and aged beef – with another deep, smoky edge to it – comes as rib, cap and eye, with a croquette, a sweet carrot purée and a rich, savoury pan reduction. Mac 'n' cheese here is raised to an art form: stiff macaroni covered in a cloud of saline béchamel foam, laden with Parmigiano-Reggiano and covered in truffle. On the tasting menu, there's loads of fun to be had, too: plaice 'schnitzel' with anchovy emulsion, capers and potato hides a secret: it's fish, chips and tartare sauce masquerading as a dish on a London tasting menu. For all his showmanship, though, Handling has never been afraid to serve simply delicious food, like pork rib, crackling and belly, with another rich reduction, punchy cauliflower mayo, cauliflower-leaf kimchi and a roasted floret – a little nose-to-tail and root-to-stem in one dish.
Tasting menu: £50; wine pairing: £50. 45-47 Hoxton Square, N1 6PD; thefroghoxton.com