LMNT Gastro Bar - Food Heaven in Hackney

316 Queensbridge Road, London, E8 3NH

Over the past ten years or so, the restaurant business has seen a steady increase in the number of "themed" venues. Common examples are these are the ever popular T.G.I. Friday's, and Planet Hollywood, now joining the ranks of the "themed", is LMNT (or so I thought).

LMNT situated on the corner of Richmond Road and Queens-bridge Road in Hackney, the LMNT sits on the corner still presenting to the world the old façade of brown street tiles ever present since the days that the Richmond Arms occupied the building.

Upon arriving we were welcomed by the staff of LMNT, all of whom made us feel welcome and at ease. Special mention should be given both Karin and Jean-Patrick, who between them, as and when required, responded to our requests and looked after us for the evening, delivering a quality of service that could not be faulted. LMNT Decor - Pharo

The interior was somewhat different from the Richmond Arms days. With wood flooring, painted murals on the walls, gold and blue cloth draping the ceilings, the odd Sphinx or two, and a few replica (I hope they were replica's anyway!) mummies cask's hanging around the place. You're transported to the main hall of the British museums Egyptian exhibition if not Egypt itself. In fact, on the day we were there, the weather certainly made it feel like Egypt.

Here I allowed myself to be set up for my first mistake; I had not enquired too closely of our illustrious leader the type of restaurant (my fault, and I should have asked). And assumed that due to the surroundings that we were at an Egyptian restaurant and settled down for a night of sampling and education in Egyptian cuisine. I did start to think at this point that the selection of music, a mix of modern and classical opera, could have been worked on and something more Middle Eastern would have been suitable, and then the menus arrived.

The menu was not as expected, and far from being of an Egyptian or Middle Eastern, the prime influence seemed to European. With Crab, Mackerel, Roast Wood Pigeon and Salmon being available as a starters.

I decided to start with the Grilled Mackerel, Horseradish Soufflé and Beetroot Vignette, Wally went for the Roast Wood pigeon breast, seared Foie Gras and Caramelised Endive Tart. The starters arrived and we sampled, the Mackerel was cooked plainly under the grill with a little olive oil and served on a bed of lettuce and vinaigrette, which complimented the Mackerel perfectly. The Horseradish Soufflé was cooked to a beautiful golden tint and just melted in the mouth, on the side of dish was served a mousse resting on top of chopped beetroot. The mousse was a real surprise, which provided soft and delicate citrus lemon tang; mixed with a cool soft taste of something watery and crunchy (I found this later to be a combination of mackerel, cucumber and vinaigrette dressing).

Wally's Roasted Breast of Wood Pigeon (of which I sampled), tasted of a deep flavour similar to a deep strong port. I must admit I sampled this rather too quickly to enjoy it and when I went back for another sample, Wally wouldn't let me have anymore! (So I think we can class that one as a success too).

At this point things started to go down hill (not with the food, but the company! Wally started to wonder if he had done the right thing, adventurously ordering fish. So why he ordered the Steamed Lemon Sole Fillets, with seared wild salmon and citrus butter I will never know! So yes, mistake number two, I said, "Well you have my Lasagne of free range chicken with wild mushrooms and tarragon juice and I'll have the Steamed Lemon sole, and he accepted! LMNT Decor - Lion

This was not a problem, until the main courses arrived, a huge breast of chicken that looked tender, succulent and covered in a golden brown skin arrived and was placed in front of Wally (it was just how I like chicken to be cooked, chicken being my favourite meat dish). Anyway the SMALL SAMPLE, that I was able to wrestle from Wally's plate tasted as good as it looked, and Wally remained very quiet until his course was finished (so OK it was worth sacrifice!).

I returned to my……..sorry, Wally's…….. Steamed Lemon Sole, which was generous in its portion and presented beautifully with the lemon sole sitting of the citrus butter, which was then surrounded by the wild salmon. The lemon sole, was excellent, the citrus butter provided the right accompaniment for both the lemon and the seared wild salmon.

With both the main courses, we were served three side dishes of spinach, new potatoes and mixed salad. Both the potatoes and spinach, were cooked just right, knife could just slice potatoes, whilst the spinach held firm to the fork but gently melted away in the mouth. The salad topped with a combination of deep fried carrots and parsnips (I think), really made the meal for me, where it was obvious that as much attention to the side dishes was paid as to the main courses.

And so we came to the dessert, Wally chose the bitter chocolate fondant, with passion fruit sorbet. I myself, opted for the poached rhubarb with sweet sabayon and red fruits. Both the desserts were a real treat. Wally's chocolate fondant arrived and looked like the perfect chocolate muffin, that when cut open oozed a thick warm chocolate sauce. The rhubarb and sabayon was also excellent, the sabayon being made of eggs, sugar, peach schnapps, grenadine and sparkling wine was the perfect sauce to compliment the rhubarb.

In summary reading this review, you may conceive that LMNT is not the place for you, with its mix of décor, music and menu. Well don't be perturbed, the restaurant works and is warm, relaxed and you can not help but enjoy the surroundings, music and food. The main courses are around eleven pounds a head, starters and desserts at about five pounds, (which I believe was very reasonable considering the quality of food) and with an extensive wine and cocktail list, you will be guaranteed to find something to suit your taste.

LMNT is a little off the beaten track and not in the best part of town. However, for Head Chef, Slavko Bogdanovic's stunningly good cuisine, the short cab ride from Liverpool Street Station is strongly recommended.

Tel: 020 7249 6727
Fax: 020 7249 6538
Lunch: Mon - Sun 12:00-14.30
Dinner: Mon - Sat 18:00-23:00
Sunday 18:00-22:30
Bar: Mon - Sat 12:00-23:00
Bar: Sun 12:00-22:30
Total Seating: 70
Bar seating: 20
Booth seating: 8 for 1-10 each

Meal and half bottle of house wine: £25
Lunch: 3 courses £12.50
Credit cards: Switch/Visa/Access

Adam Nelis, June, 2001

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