Sosharu – Jason Atherton’s Japanese in EC1

Creative cuisine in Clerkenwell

An izakaya (Japanese gastropub), Sosharu serves innovative Japanese-inspired dishes, in a minka (traditional, wooden house) themed interior that is informal, intimate and calm.

We start our evening in the basement cocktail bar, 7 tales, where it’s 2-for-1 on cocktails and we are the only customers. We order Way of the Warriors and One Eye Dragons. I’m smitten with the Japanese toilets with all the gadgets and warm seats – great on a cold, winter evening. I’m already transported back to Japan and happy holidays…

Our table for two (reserved well in advance) is ready so we return upstairs. The lighting is very low and although the tables are a bit small and crammed together, there’s a feeling of privacy and spaciousness due to all the decorative wooden wall dividers.

20180315_Sosharu - sashimi_insta
Tuna temaki (top left), sea bream sashimi (top right), assorted sashimi, crab salad (bottom)

We’re pretty excited as we’re celebrating our anniversary. Our waiter is equally excited and talks us through every item on the menu, twice over, before eventually leaving us to read it.

The menu is split into different sections – sashimi, chilled, temaco, tempura, bento boxes, hibachi grill, classics, and noodles, with chef’s seasonal favourites (cf) helpfully marked as such in each section. For ease, you can order a tasting menu of seven plates @ £45.00 per person.

With help from our waiter we order a cold saké (36 PeopleJunmai @ £48.00) and choose our own tiny cups from a lovely saké cup selection box. Saké might be strong, and it might seem expensive but the small cups really help slow you down! It seemed like a never-ending bottle, and being cold, crisp and clean went really well with the food, cutting through the oily fish flavours nicely.

20180315_Soshura 001
Sake, bream sashimi and grilled miso cod

We order something from most sections of the menu:

Assorted sashimi: 6 pieces of tuna, salmon and yellowtail @ £24.00

– bream sashimi salad with crispy potato (cf) @ £13.00
– cornish crab salad with fried blood orange and miso dressing @ £12.00

Temaco: 2 x open tuna temaki with scallion tobiko, sushi rice, avocado + fresh wasabi @ £9 each (cf)

Tempura – karaage: fried chicken with lemon + salt @ £8 (cf)

Hibachi grill: wagyu rib-eye beef with ginger + garlic crisps @ £30

Inspired by classics: miso grilled Cornish cod, sweet soy, cod gyoza, monks beard @ £19

The sea bream sashimi salad was so carefully composed, it was almost a shame to eat. And quite difficult to share. The assorted sashimi was a stand-out dish for me. As was the Cornish crab salad which had real novelty factor with its beautiful fried, crispy blood orange arrangement.

Wagyu beef

Fried chicken

The design of the tuna temaki was something else – art on a plate, while the wagyu beef wasn’t particularly special, nor was the fried chicken.

We’re pretty full but we’re celebrating and can squeeze in a dessert. And so we do: a coconut rice with mango for K and an apple kakigori (inspired by tarte tatin) made of fresh apple, caramelised compote, salty caramel ice-cream, shaved ice and Calvados foam for me (both @ £9).  K’s rice pudding was served in two dishes which looked spectacular but didn’t really go together and was well, just a bit odd.

Coconut rice dessert

The serving of the apple kakigori was also theatrical with the Calvados foam being sprayed on last, at the table. It didn’t look very appealing but once the ice shavings started melting and all the flavours started blending together, it was absolutely divine.

Apple kakigori

The verdict: The food is innovative, fancy and pricey (our meal for two came to £249.75). That’s all part of the experience. We felt very well looked after and really enjoyed the low-lit (dark), wooden interior style. I can’t imagine rushing back here any time soon when there are numerous other Japanese restaurants in London I’ve yet to try, but this was a thoroughly good, enjoyable dining experience.

Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
– Type: Japanese
– Address: 64 Turnmill St, London EC1M 5RR
– Nearest station: Farringdon
– Website + menus: Sosharu website
– Photos on flickr: images of Sosharu food
– Location: Sosharu map

Sosharu Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Bird of Smithfield – Farringdon EC1A

Classy food in a Georgian townhouse, this restaurant is spread over several interestingly decorated floors

On our visit this evening we chose from this menu here. For starters, I had baked heritage beetroots @ £8.00 – very reasonably priced and outstandingly tasty. Just look at those beautiful big chunks of fresh celeriac with a good dollop of goat’s curd – a great mix of flavours along with the beetroot and balsamic and sorrel leaves:

Baked heritage beetroots starter with goat’s curd, balsamic, celeriac, radish, sorrel

Another starter that went down very well was this pan fried foie gras @ £12.50:

Pan fried foie gras with shaved turnip, kibbled onion, roasted duck consommé


Service was very slow and we had a long wait (and apologies from the waitresses) for food.

For main course, I had this wild Cornish turbot (so good, it was worth the wait!), served with fresh pasta, clams and butter:

Wild Cornish turbot with hand-rolled farfelle, clams, celery, Swiss chard, shellfish butter


Creatively presented, this caramelised duck breast with a pie top looks almost too good to eat. Almost.

Caramelised duck breast with crushed pumpkin, pickled red cabbage, spiced honey and a braised leg pie @ £23.00


Bird of Smithfield restaurant – in a Georgian townhouse opposite Smithfield meat market in Clerkenwell, London


The verdict: Stunningly presented food that’s outstandingly good. The homeliness of the townhouse was very appealing, and the interior is really tastefully designed and comfortable. Service wasn’t great but I’ll definitely be back to try more of this menu.


Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
– Type: British, international
– Address: 26 Smithfield St, Clerkenwell, London
– Postcode: EC1A 9L
– Nearest station: Farringdon, Barbican
– Website + menus: Bird of Smithfield website
– Bird of Smithfield photos: Bird of Smithfield photos on flickr
– Location: Bird of Smithfield map

Bird Of Smithfield Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Polpo Italian tapas – Smithfield EC1M

Italian sharing plates in an informal, cosy setting – Smithfield, Farringdon branch

Part of the same restaurant group as Mishkin’s (Jewish style deli) with a similarly styled simple menu, Polpo serves Italian tapas. It’s all about sharing simple, good quality food and wine in a humble environment.

After meeting friends after work last night in a busy pub by Farringdon station (packed and we couldn’t hear ourselves talk) we decided to look for somewhere – less rammed and noisy – to eat. Polpo on Cowcross Street by Smithfield Market seemed calm and relaxing.


All Photos-511

Grilled focaccia @ £3.00


We ordered a bottle of cold, sparkling prosecco, which seemed wholly appropriate for a warm summer evening (although, I’ve no idea when it’s not appropriate to drink prosecco…) and a few plates to share between the four of us.


All Photos-508

Polpo menu – Italian ‘tapas’


All Photos-510

Fritto misto @ £9.00 – calamari (squid) rings, octopus, prawns


All Photos-513

Lamb meatballs @ 7.00


All Photos-512

Arancini (front) – stuffed rice balls coated in bread crumbs and deep fried, two balls @ £8.00
Crab linguine (back) @ £9.00


All Photos-514

Courgette salad @ £5.00


All Photos-515

Milan style breaded chicken @ £7.00


All Photos-516

Inside Polpo


All Photos-519

Outside Polpo – on Cowcross Street by Smithfield Market


All Photos-520

Nutella pizzetta @ £6.00


All Photos-522

Panna cotta @ £5.00



The verdict: No frills, no fuss. It’s all about simplicity and good food, with good service too. Our meal for four – including two bottles of prosecco and desserts or liquid desserts (liqueurs) came to £171 (about £43 a head).



Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
– Type: Italian tapas
– Address: 3 Cowcross Street, Smithfield, London
– Postcode: EC1M 6DR
– Nearest station: Farringdon, Barbican
– Website + menus: Polpo website
– Photos on flickr: Polpo images
– Location: Polpo map 
Polpo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Granger & Co – Clerkenwell

International dishes with an Australian twist in a relatively peaceful, green location

Looking at Granger & Co from leafy St. James’s church garden over the road, this feels more like a village green than the middle of London:

All Photos-504
Granger & Co – Clerkenwell

Zooming out a little, this photo shows the sculptural installation of bird boxes (created by London Fieldworks for Clerkenwell Design Week 2011 to reflect the surrounding architecture – more info here) in St. James’s church garden:

All Photos-502


There was a time a few years ago when it seemed like Australian chef, Bill Granger was never off the TV, particularly the Saturday morning food programmes. And Granger & Co is his London chain of restaurants – there are three at Kings Cross, Notting Hill and Clerkenwell.

There are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options on the lunch menuwhich offers small plates (from courgette chips to goats cheese and flatbread to crispy squid or Korean fried chicken), mini pizzas, sandwiches and burgers and some interesting salads as well as ‘classics’ (like scrambled eggs and sourdough toast), bowls and grains (puy lentils, broth and brown rice) and big plates (such as belly pork, crispy duck or fish curry).

All Photos-460

Bondi salad bowl 

The Bondi salad bowl @ £12.50 is a mix of buckwheat, quinoa, golden beetroot, courgette, tamari pepitas, goat’s yoghurt, feta and rose harissa which gives it a subtle spicy kick. Not your average ‘salad’ by any means. It’s just gorgeous.


All Photos-459

Courgette fritters and halloumi – a big plate

The courgette fritters and halloumi dish is a ‘big plate’ option @ £11.80, served with siyez (wheat) and shredded kale salad and zhoug (green chilli sauce). Another great dish, once the blanket of coriander is removed.


All Photos-456

Lunchtime menu – as of August 2016


The verdict: The Clerkenwell branch is in a relatively green and peaceful location for the city. Interesting salad options and fresh juices too. Not cheap but worth a visit.


More of the menu

October 2016

IMG_9666_duck and clementine

Crispy duck, clementine, star anise, brown rice and citrus salad – a main course of a 3-course set menu @ £29.95


IMG_9668_chilli miso salmon

Chilli miso salmon, hot and sour aubergine, herb salad and brown rice – a main course dish from a 3-course set menu


IMG_9673_pistachio pavlova

Pistachio pavlova, fresh passion fruit and yoghurt cream – perfect meringue, gorgeous!



Sambal chicken salad – green papaya, coriander, peanuts, Thai basil, chargrilled spring onion @ £13.50



Scrambled eggs on sourdough toast – light and fluffy eggs @ £8.20


Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
– Type: International, Australian
– Address: 50 Sekforde St, Clerkenwell, London
– Postcode: EC1R 0HA
– Nearest station: Farringdon
– Website + menus: Granger & Co website
– Photos on flickr: Granger & Co images
– Location: Granger & Co Clerkenwell map

Granger & Co. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Darbucka and ‘Planet Egypt’ night

I had a really entertaining night last at Darbucka, Farringdon. It was the monthly Planet Egypt event in the basement with food, drink and belly dancing.

There’s a £10 entrance fee on the door and a simple but very good menu of middle-eastern food. A vegetarian mezze for one is £12 and includes stuffed vine leaves, humous, pitta, tabboule, potatoes, a sesame dip and falafel (perfectly cooked – crispy but not heavy on the outside and light in the middle) and there’s a good selection of wines starting from £16.00 a bottle.

Venue info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: Egyptian, middle-eastern
~ Address: 182 St John Street, London
~ Postcode: EC1V 4JZ
~ Tel: 020 7490 8295
~ Nearest tube station: Farringdon, Angel
~ Websites Planet Egypt nights and Darbucka lounge bar + restaurant
~ Location: Darbucka map

Darbucka on Urbanspoon

Jerusalem Tavern – Clerkenwell

I haven’t eaten here (yet!) but the Jerusalem Tavern deserves a mention in the Lardbutty index. I popped in here yesterday – about 6pm – while walking through Clerkenwell to Darbucka and it was packed, though it is a small venue.

It’s interestingly quaint – very battered and higgledy-piggledy – and the building dates from the 1720s, reputed to have been the site of an early city coffee shop. When you step through the heavy front door, it feels more like you’ve entered someone’s front room in an old house than a pub.


There’s a great range of real ales, brewed by St Peter’s Brewery, and an appealing menu. And, it’s a Time Out Critics Choice.

Venue info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: British, pub
~ Address: 55 Britton Street, Clerkenwell, London
~ Postcode: EC1M 5UQ
~ Tel: 020 7490 4281
~ Nearest tube station: Farringdon
~ Website St Peters Brewery – Jerusalem Tavern
~ Location: Jerusalem map

Jerusalem Tavern on Urbanspoon