Writer Giverny Masso heads to Penny Squares in Aldgate for a vibrant, inventive menu of fusion twists on British classics
Entering into the Platinum Jubilee weekend, I can’t think of a better way to kick off the bank holiday than by sampling a menu of fusion dishes with an ice-cold glass of rosé. Well luckily, I’m making a visit to Penny Squares in Aldgate, which opened in March as part of Hilton’s Canopy hotel.
The cool, open restaurant space that we enter via the hotel lobby is a relaxing contrast to the muggy atmosphere outside. The interior has an industrial chic vibe – think exposed ceiling pipes and smart, minimalist furniture – with a delightful open kitchen.
Penny Squares describes its offering as modern British cuisine fused with the international flavours of London’s East End. I’m immediately struck by the creativity of the menu, most notably the off-the-wall selections of bread and dips, small plates and desserts.
After some deliberation, my friend and I settle on the Beetroot Labneh Cucumber and Mint, with Spinach Pita Bread (£8.50) to nibble on first. We also opt for the Makhni Paneer Samosas (£12.50), and, at the insistence of the waiter, the Coronation Asparagus (£11) to start.
When the dishes arrive, they are colourful and enticingly presented. I’m pleasantly surprised by dance of flavours between the tender asparagus, curried egg mimosa and fluffy apricot puree in the Coronation Asparagus. The food is paired with the Rose de Leoube Organic; a subtle and silky wine expertly recommended by the waiter.
There is a choice of three mains, and I go for the vegetarian option – the Tamarind Glazed, Grilled Aubergine (£18.50). The popular flavour combination of juicy aubergine, tangy feta, pomegranate seeds and toasted pine nuts does not fail to please. My friend informs me that her main, the Red Gurnard (£26), is divine – praising the contrasting textures of the succulently flaky fish, crispy topping and the velvety smooth lobster sauce.
I enjoy the zingy, palette-cleansing Rose and Lime Meringue with strawberry sorbet for dessert, while my friend enjoys the slightly more indulgent Warm Vanilla Bird’s Nest Pastry with pistachio cremeux and hazelnut ice cream (both £10.50).
The Wordrobe Verdict
Penny Squares offers a vibrant, inventive menu of fusion twists on British classics. We left feeling light, satisfied and nourished, rather than stuffed and sluggish – which is quite something after a three-course meal.
The only thing slightly lacking was an atmosphere, however this can be forgiven considering that the restaurant only opened a couple of months ago. Once the establishment has built up more of a customer base and people realise it exists as a separate entity beyond the hotel, I envision a buzzing environment as the chefs bustle around in a busy open kitchen and the sound of chatter fills the space.
Make it happen:
Where: 11-15 Minories, London, EC3N 1AX
How: Find out more and book a table via here pennysquaresrestaurant.co.uk
Words by Giverny Masso, freelance writer