Cycene restaurant Shoreditch, review
Cycene restaurant in Shoreditch offers a one-of-a-kind dining experience that will enthral any London foodie
Walking down Chance Street on a cold Thursday evening I feel I am on a movie set: mural art everywhere, swanky passers-by wearing beanies and the new must-have trainers with assured nonchalance.
I am here to discover Cycene, the new Blue Mountain School restaurant, led by chef Theo Clench – previously at Akoko and Portland – who serves a 10-course set menu that is seafood-led and inspired by east Asian and Australasian flavours.
As I walk in, I am greeted with a Negroni in the softly lit downstairs bar. The atmosphere is dark and minimalist, yet utterly welcoming. High, silvery grey walls, cherry-wood furniture and rough ceramics convey luxury and calm. I am about to embark on a culinary and aesthetic journey, which will take me through different rooms and floors of the Blue Mountain School.
At the bar, I am soon served a warm beef broth in a clay cup, accompanied by a gooey spelt and rye bread and the choice of three kinds of butter. The warming effect is immediate. There is rustic brilliance in this dish, perfectly illustrated by the word ‘cycene’ – which means kitchen in old English.
But it is time to move upstairs, up the narrow steps of this 19th-century building. In the main dining room, with fewer than 10 tables, hangs a Frank Auerbach painting. The setting is simple, elegant and intimate. The feast will be on our plates. `
My culinary experience actually takes place in the stunning Earth room lit by candlelight. I can’t help noticing the ceramics again: they are made by BDDW and can be purchased in Blue Mountain School's shopping space.
Our 10-course menu is accompanied by wine and/or fermented drinks – you can also go full soft or full wine. My experience of the half-half option makes for an incredible pairing, fermented kombucha and vinegar adding a unique dimension to the evening.
We are soon invited to the adjacent kitchen to taste poached Carlingford oysters, seared with charcoal and served with cucumber oil and oscietra caviar. On the side is a juice of cucumber and fermented blackcurrant branches bringing just the right touch of zing.
The many dishes that follow leave me in a blur of delight – it is worth noting that the menu is in a constant process of evolution – but some dishes stand out.
The wild turbot from Brixham served with lettuce and sake sauce is a feast for the palate and for the eyes. The fromage blanc paired with Yorkshire rhubarb is a high point, and so is the milk with honey which touches a specific nostalgic chord.
Dinner ends with a flurry of desserts, including delightful canelés with brown butter custard.
Given the level of attention to detail and carefully constructed culinary finish, it comes as no surprise that Cycene can cater for only 16 covers a night.
The tasting experience is extraordinary, yet unfussy and simple. Paired with Blue Mountain School’s uniquely refined atmosphere, it makes for one of the best dining evenings I have ever had.
Tasting menu is £175 and half-half pairing is an additional £110. bluemountain.school/cycene