Lena, Shoreditch (London)
Some would say that Shoreditch has had its day. I may be inclined to agree. You see the problem with being a popular or ‘trendy’ hang out is that too quickly, these places begin to lose their edge. They become known for something, the place to find ‘A’ or do ‘B’. Local businesses invariably begin to follow suit and what was once new and different becomes old news. This is why restaurants like Lena – family owned, good food without gimmicks, fresh produce and age old recipes – need to exist in places like this, more than anywhere else. I never thought I would say this out loud but I will be going back to Shoreditch as often as I possibly can…this is food at its very, very best.
Ambiance and décor: 8/10
Lena is a Shoreditch based restaurant that doesn’t prescribe to the popular ‘shabby’, ‘vintage’ or ‘retro’ theme of the area. Don’t get confused by the white plastic chairs, accents of green and whiter than white décor – this place is quirky without being gimmicky and the overly large wooden tables give the whole place a strangely alfresco feel. Lena is fresh, fun, shiny and chic a great combination and the perfect setting for a delicious Sicilian meal.
A menu which includes a creative combination of ingredients and seasoning, makes Lena a must visit. To be honest, there is not much point in recounting in great detail what our meal consisted of, as the menu at Lena changes regularly – this is so they can use seasonal ingredients in each dish. All I can say is that from the perfectly cooked chicken, to the delicious lobster and pasta, to the Tiramisu dessert that had me floating above my chair – it was not a bad night at all.
Lena began to pick up pace as our evening progressed and by the time I had finished my main course there was quite a buzzy atmosphere in the restaurant – for a Wednesday night that is. The waitress that greeted us at the door also stayed with us for the rest evening – at least until she was called over by a group of slightly drunk after work diners! – This in itself was a nice touch, as her relaxed and friendly demeanour put us at ease and meant that we felt comfortable asking her questions about the menu and wine list.
With a 10-15 minute (straight line) walk from Shoreditch Station, Lena is not hard to find. The rather grand entrance has a flight of steps that takes you up to glass doors, leading into a large space with lots of room for manoeuvre. The height of the space and large windows give the restaurant a bright and open feel. Lena is one of the only restaurants we have visited which actually has visibility strips on their stairs… a simple but effective measure. It would be remiss of me to not mention the price of the food at Lena, visit with full pockets and an empty stomach!
66 Great Eastern Street
Tel: 020 7739 5714