Birtwistle Outpost restaurant review
Birtwistle Outpost is one of those east London venues that does a bit of everything, and feels strangely empty for it. It’s a store, coffee shop, hangout space, café and (come evening) private dining room for a select few guests. But, once you’ve decided the artisanal chopping boards are out of your price range, there’s not much in the way of things to eat for lunch – just cheap but uninspiring butternut squash soup and veggie quiche when we visited (£3 and £3.50 respectively). A quince tart for pudding (also £3.50) was big and bland, with not enough of the sweet, sharp, gooey filling. The coffee was smooth but too milky; the service wide-eyed and awkward.
Chef Irene Psoma (formerly of Ottolenghi and Nobu) is clearly saving her best for the small room’s supper clubs (bookable by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, though you’ll need to do it weeks in advance) – and a snaffled spoonful of a rich and bitter chocolate mousse was enough to get us excited.
So, lunch was a non-event, but Birtwistle Outpost does seem interesting. It’s a family project, run by architect and furniture-maker Toby, his artist and writer wife Susan and their ’adventurer’ daughter Margot. Dad, Sir Harrison Birtwistle, is a famous composer, and his book’s for sale in the shop. Brother Adam stocks his ceramics there, and other members of the Birtwistle brethren have chipped in too.
The whole set-up sounds like the plot of a Wes Anderson movie, which fits just right with Shoreditch’s louche and folksy style. But, in this case, a little bit more substance would be good.