Ruth Hansom is giving British ingredients the royal treatment, combining her classical French training, hewed at the Ritz, with contemporary presentation. Lisa Jenkins pays a visit.
The Princess of Shoreditch in London reopened its doors just six weeks ago, ‘refreshed and awake from her slumber', as stated in the social media campaign.
The venue is part of the Noble Inns Group, which also includes the Smokehouse and the Pig and Butcher, both in Islington. Head chef Ruth Hansom has been appointed by owner Barry Weller, operating partner of the Albion in Islington and chairman of Burman Hospitality.
The 36-cover dining room, accessed by an impressive winding staircase, is staffed with a front of house team who followed Hansom from Wernhers at Luton Hoo hotel in Bedfordshire, which she left in 2019, and more recently from Pomona's in Notting Hill, which closed at the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak.
The Princess of Shoreditch offers two styles of food, says Hansom: "We have a refined menu upstairs in a fine-dining setting, and downstairs we have bar snacks and homemade charcuterie, which I spent a lot of time developing during lockdown."
We have homemade charcuterie, which I spent a lot of time developing during lockdown
The downstairs menu also includes heritage beetroot, truffle, goats' cheese and London honey (£6), chicken, date and peanut terrine (£7), and that homemade Princess charcuterie (£8/12). The dishes are accompanied by a range of cocktails, such as the Beekeeper Spritz, made with gin, honey and bergamot (£8) and the Hetty King Cup, with homemade lemon vodka, rhubarb and custard syrup, and rhubarb liqueur (£9).
The starters upstairs include the roasted Windy Ridge cauliflower mousse, chervil root, endive, yeast and tarragon (£7), and Rhug Estate venison haunch tartare with mustard seed, fennel and nasturtium (£10). The chef's favourite dish is a starter of veal sweetbread, black pudding and walnut crust, spiced carrot and greengage (£13.50). "It's a really rich but well-balanced dish with lots of different textures," explains Hansom.
Hansom has also been experimenting with pickling: "I love pickling things and find that a great vinegar can add so much to a dish."
Her repertoire of desserts includes one with coffee, chocolate and grapefruit, which is currently being developed for an upcoming menu. "I enjoy new ingredient combinations and this one turned out to be amazing," she says.
The menu follows British seasonality combined with Hanson's classical French technique and a "modern plating style." In terms of local ingredients, the kitchen uses fruit and vegetables from 2-Serve wholesale in Covent Garden, Woods Fish and Udale Meats. Foraged ingredients play a part on the menu too, with a hedgerow berry soufflé using berries harvested in Cornwall, fig leaves from the chef's garden and nasturtium and wild garlic from a secret London location.
The wine list is chosen by Weller, who as well as being an operator has sommelier credentials, and includes Spy Valley Handpicked Single Vineyard Pinot Noir Rosé for £33.
Hansom began her hospitality career in Shoreditch at the age of 16 at Boundary restaurant, when she worked under Frederick Forster. She then moved on to the Ritz in 2017 as demi chef de partie with the indomitable John Williams. During this time she won a clutch of awards, bagging Young National Chef of the Year, the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts Annual Awards of Excellence, and was part of the EuroSkills Team UK in Gothenburg.
Her present mentor, Weller, she says, has also been hugely supportive and has had lots of input. "He has a wealth of knowledge and experience and his feedback has been invaluable," she adds. With only four people in her small brigade, including her kitchen porter Michael Bahlibi, Hansom is able to offer the personal touch, saying she wants the Princess to be known as knowledgeable but without pretence, an ambition she is well on her way to achieving.
The Princess of Shoreditch, 76-78 Paul Street London EC2A 4NE
From the menu
- Isle of Wight tomato, Ribblesdale curd, black garlic £7
- Crab apple, dressed Brixham white crab, Granny Smith, kohlrabi £15
- St Ewes' yolk and watercress ravioli, tender broccoli, Lord of the Hundreds, morel £12
- Lyon's Hill Farm lamb rump and glaze neck, autumn squash, juniper, mint £21
- Creedy Carver duck, onion, beetroot, damson, Xerez pickle £19
- Fig leaf and Earl Grey trifle, bergamot and hazelnut £7
- Garden ginger set custard, gooseberry, Yorkshire rhubarb, sorrel £7
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