Jonny Ensall

I'm an editor, writer and presenter. Currently editor of easyJet Traveller magazine, writer for NME and presenter for Audible Originals. I’m also the former deputy editor of Time Out London.

Birtwistle Outpost restaurant review

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 info@birtwistleoutpost.co.uk, 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.

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