As I walked down one of the more run-down parts of the Kingsland Road on a warm Spring evening trying to find Untitled, I couldn’t help but feel that maybe I was in the wrong place. The shop front is as non-descript as the name of the restaurant, so were it not for two waiters in floral short-sleeved shirts standing by the entrance, I may have missed it altogether.
I was welcomed inside and my first thought was that this was not what I expected. I knew that Untitled’s a restaurant and cocktail bar, serving traditional Japanese food (no sushi) with a modern twist. I also knew that Michelin star chef Rob Roy Cameron is behind the menu and that mixologist Tony Conigliario pairs every dish with a cocktail.
The interior of the restaurant however was unlike any other I’ve been to. Slabs of grey concrete line the walls, making it refreshingly cool and dark inside and the décor is stripped back and completely void of any colour. As we sat down at our table, I realised appreciatively that this means there is nothing to distract you from what the waiters put down on the table: all of your attention is focused on the food and drink.
We were served a gin-based welcome drink “camouflaged” as alcohol free by adding Seedlip spirit (0% abv) together with cordial and a touch of lemon peel. While we sipped on this dry, aromatic and refreshing aperitif, the waiter presented an amuse bush of tofu cooked three ways and explained that tonight’s taster menu consisted of 5 courses, each paired with a unique sake based cocktail.
The first plate was perhaps my favourite of the night. Inspired by the season, it was Cameron’s interpretation of a cold Spring river. Presented in a wooden bowl, edamame beans and fresh herbs formed the rocks and moss on the river-bed, over which flowed a cold broth or ‘dashi’. It was a delightfully fresh and elegant way to start the meal and I can’t say I’ve ever tried anything like it.
The following dishes similarly demonstrated Camron’s remarkable ability to combine simplicity with an element of surprise: oysters in a sweet wild strawberry sauce, accompanied by a floral ‘azur’ sake; thick slices of salmon sashimi in a creamy almond sauce washed down by a cherry-blossom sake; and beautifully cooked confit cod in a Shiso sauce with Sea Aster greens.
For the sweet courses, we were told to expect something weird and wonderful given Rob Roy Cameron originally trained as a pastry chef. We weren’t disappointed. A warm cheesecake with roasted honey preceded a “fried egg” with an apricot and lemongrass sorbet as the yoke – a thoroughly enjoyable trick on the senses that was capped off with a plate of saffron flavoured milk chocolate.
I left Untitled with a smile on my face, a belly full of stunning food and a slightly woozy head. With an everyday menu boasting 10 courses (plenty for 2 people) for £52, this hidden gem represents fantastic value for exciting Michelin-standard food with cracking cocktails.
If you fancy checking it out, you can book here.
And here’s their website for more info.
Words by Theo Charnley