Boutique hotel Boundary in Shoreditch has already established itself as one of the best terraces in the whole of the capital - packed, pretty, fun, flirty. Now it is looking to do something a little different on the ground floor. They’ve recently completely remodelled the former Albion Cafe and enlisted charming manager Thomas West to oversee things. Now very much Manhattan-esque in its intentions, on a recent balmy weeknight it felt like a refuge from the boiling city of London: a big open space, with a 20m zinc top central bar, tiled walls and house soundtrack vaguely reminiscent of the late great Schiller’s Liquor Bar in New York. They’ve also created a reading nook and new dining space suitable for ten which looks particularly intriguing (even the nude etchings on the wall somehow feel tasteful).
Service is friendly, the vibe is informal and most importantly it feels genuinely cool. Good things start happening almost immediately: they’ve got Tiny Easy Living Pale Ale and Stiegl Goldbrau on tap and bottles of ice cold Deveaux Rose primed behind the bar. It feels like the sort of place where an after work drink could turn into an epic night of debauchery - and now you don’t even need to take the lift to the rooftop to have a great time. Cocktails keep things fairly classic but that’s no bad thing: one can’t really argue with a spot-on old fashioned and a punchy salt-rimmed Margarita. Our waitress' recommendation of Chardonnay Bourgogne Les Ursulines was spot on - buttery, dry with pineapple notes, enough flavour and depth to stand up to whatever salty, crunchy comfort food we selected.
Gothenburg-born Head Chef Robin Freeman, formerly of 1 Lombard street, is doing modern European flavours with sustainable British ingredients. A pair of meaty robust Devon diver Scallops served in the shell looked terrific. Norfolk asparagus covered in a rustic combo of peel and lentils, didn’t. But both tasted pure, thrilling and vibrant in equal measure. Wild garlic and nettle risotto had a fun higgedly-piggedly finesse while the seared chalk stream trout, topped with Brixham crab was a class above - particularly when a few stray French fries found their way into the crustacean sauce.
Dessert consisted of a Pecan slice with Earl Grey ice cream felt like the special relationship on a plate and a beautiful pale pink strawberry parfait was so visually alluring it recalled a kid’s plastic playset. All in all, it feels like East London has got another hit on its hands - put it this way, West's suggestion of a second bottle of the chardonnay was momentarily considered. What’s clear is that Boundary can go as long as you can - customers are let up to the rooftop until 11, if you’re willing to risk a walk-in. And your date is going really, really well? Rooms start at £204.