There’s nothing much better than finding a hidden gem off the beaten track – it’s like landing a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but instead of gold, it’s some of the best food in East London. Owners Alex and Maria have created restaurant Eline, a place that is welcoming and homely with attention to detail. Named after chef-owner Alex’s grandmother, Eline exudes an airy glow as you enter, slowing down the world and transporting you to a place of calm. The interior is understated with a Scandi-come-Spanish swish. Maria’s Argentinian roots shine through, bringing atmosphere and grace as she moves around the room, whilst Alex’s Parisian background provides inspiration for the genius in the kitchen.
The restaurant has been open for less than a year, yet it feels like a family-run place that’s been part of the local community for generations. It’s all I could wish a local restaurant to be, plus it houses a bottle shop with a vast selection of natural wines – what’s not to love.
I could be anywhere, but the view from the floor-to-ceiling windows is perfectly East London, with graphic colliding blocks of flats and a diverse mix of passers-by providing plenty of people watching to while away a long lunch alone – but for now I have company and we are drooling over the menu for dinner.
We share a delicate and pretty pea and fresh ricotta tartlet with lemon and onion petals, alongside a mackerel tartare with pickled apple and grapes. Then mains are just as excellent – walnut gnocchi with courgettes dressing and flower crisps. Mouth-watering John Dory served with the juiciest plum tomato and insanely delicious jersey royals served with a vierge sauce. Each dish makes the most of every ingredient – beautiful, delicious and served on hand-thrown crockery made in Italy. It’s clear there’s love and passion given to every plate of food.
For dessert we settle on a raspberry and white chocolate arltette (thin wafers of caramelised puff pastry) and our favourite, a pistachio tart with cranberry and cherry ice cream.
All-round perfect host and wine connoisseur Maria suggested we wash down our feast with a bottle of Grinton Alex Della Vechhia, a red wine served chilled. It was a perfect pairing for our meal on a warm, sunny day – we loved it and bought a bottle to take home where we contemplated our evening and a return visit to Eline – not just a great place to eat and drink, but good for the soul.
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