Like many others, I first saw Adam Handling on my TV screen, as a contestant on The Great British Menu. Immediately I noticed his admirable determination and inventive cooking style. When I visited his Shoreditch restaurant, The Frog, the atmosphere was rather more relaxed, and his food truly shone.
From the exterior the restaurant feels a little makeshift, tucked away in Ely’s Yard in the Old Truman Brewery of Shoreditch. But inside the dining room is fully equipped with lovely industrial-style tables and basic but stylish chairs, eclectic artwork by young artists adorns the walls. The whole set up was perfect for my obsessive food photographing! I went along to sample the lunch menu, and even mid-week the restaurant felt full with locals who seemed very pleased to have this great new eatery in their neighbourhood.
Adam is only 28 but already is illustrating a wealth of experience and ideas through his plates of food. The lunch menu costs £35 per person for three courses with a glass of wine or beer, it is a lovely way of sampling an example of his bold and brilliant repertoire. After gorging on delicious bread and chicken skin butter we received our beautiful starters: Pork, pineapple & cheese and Celeriac with truffle, dates & lime. Pork and pineapple is not a pairing I’ve tried before… the meat was tender and salty on a bed of contrasting components and decorated with dehydrating pineapple slithers. Every mouthful was different. The Celeriac was an inspired vegetarian option, a neat nest of thinly sliced celeriac revealed an jewel-like egg yolk, chunks of tart apple and plenty of indulgent grated truffle.
Main courses were equally surprising and stunning. Lamb with crispy potatoes, sour cream and garlic was a work of art on the plate and a cacophony of flavours to eat. I loved the super crunchy potatoes with the sour cream and grilled baby onions, but I found the meat a little on the salty side. The Mac and Cheese – the frog way, was a rich and decadent dish, with layers of pasta, cheese sauce and grated truffle. Not for the faint-hearted.
Before pudding time, the kitchen kindly sent out a mysterious red dish. Beetroot, beetroot and more beetroot is a much talked about item on the menu. If you like beetroot you’ll love it, if you don’t then you probably won’t be a fan! The three desserts all sounded extraordinary: Yuzu, white chocolate, raspberry & peanut, Burnt honey, lemon, malted milk and Chocolate ‘tiramisu’. We couldn’t resist trying all of them. Burnt honey was a delicate dessert with tangy lemon and creamy subtle ice-cream, Chocolate tiramisu was dramatic and unpredictable, arriving at the table in a puff of dry ice smoke… it looked great but I found the straight black coffee sauce a little too bitter with the rest of the dish. The Yuzu dessert was a triumph, a brilliant mix of sweet and citrus flavours and textures.
I left The Frog feeling excited about Adam Handling’s cooking, I’m definitely keen to return to try more of his innovative and tasty recipes.
More information and book a table at The Frog here.