I love finding good food in the most unexpected places. I visited Bar Kick a couple of years ago for a few drinks and a bit of table football, but somehow managed to completely miss their food menu. I would have never thought of going there for a meal, until now.
Located at one of the busiest areas on Shoreditch High Street, near the intersection with Old Street and Hackney Road, Bar Kick is always buzzing and is Tardis-like in its interior dimensions, viewed from its unassuming entrance on the High Street.
The décor is quirky but casual, with vintage Formica tables and chairs, flags hanging from the ceiling, and other football paraphernalia scattered on the walls and around the room. It has a European shabby-chic feel about it, with dimmed lighting helping to create a relaxed, laid-back atmosphere.
I was pleased to be invited back as I enjoyed my earlier visit, and was curious to try their food offerings this time round. So I returned to Bar Kick Shoreditch and had the pleasure of the company of food photographer Paul Winch-Furness who kindly took all the pictures for this post.
The kitchen is completely open-plan and is headed by German head-chef Kerstin Hartwig and Japanese sous-chef Yuki Yoshioka. The menu is reassuringly short, and apart from some of the classics it changes daily (daily specials). The menu reads well making Paul and me keen to try most dishes.
The drinks menu is also decent and well priced for Shoreditch, with cocktails at £6.95 and an excellent selection of quality beers including Duvel @ £4.60, Leffe @ £3.50 and Vedett @ £3.50. The wine list is short but well thought out, and surprisingly only includes Old World choices, with house wines starting at a mere £14.20.
We started proceedings with a couple of cocktails. I went for a “Basil Grande” @ £6.95 – a refreshing vodka-based martini made with fresh basil leaves, strawberries, raspberry liqueur and Grand Marnier. I don’t normally go for fruit cocktails but was tempted by the combination of fresh basil and strawberries which tasted lovely in this drink. Paul opted for a “Fresh Fruit Daiquiri” @ £6.95 which was also delicious.
Foodwise, we kicked off with a bowl of “Salmorejo” (sml @ £1.95 / large @ £4.50) – a chilled tomato and bread soup with boiled organic egg and toasted almonds. This Andalucian soup is one of my favourites, creamier and nuttier than the more commonly known gazpacho but retaining a refreshing acidity from the tomatoes and vinegar. Bar Kick’s version was delicious.
The “Slow Simmered Chilled Pork Fillet with Tuna & Caper Sauce” @ £7 was another flavoursome dish. Served with fennel and rocket salad, we felt the presentation of the dish was stunning. I loved the combination of flavours and textures in this dish – from the pork and tuna, to the radish and capers, fennel and rocket (aniseed and peppery), it was a delightful and substantial salad.
We also tried the “Earl Grey Tea Smoked Duck Breast with Tabouleh, Grilled Orange and Pomegranate” @ £9. Another excellent dish, the duck was lightly smoked and beautifully cooked, and was accompanied by a tabouleh studded with pomegranate seeds and bursting with fresh herbs and citrus flavours.
The star of the evening in my opinion was the “Grilled Miso Marinated Salmon” @ £12 served with roasted beetroot, green beans, baby spinach salad and a deliciously soft-boiled egg. It was lovely to see the Japanese touch on the menu by sous-chef Yoshioka-san. This is one of the most popular and delicious of Japanese home-cooked dishes and Yoshioka’s was no exception. The salmon had been perfectly marinated, with the miso flavour being neither too salty nor bland. It served to cure the fish, and gave it a rather meaty texture. The roasted beetroot and greens were well seasoned and were also a good addition to the fish. A real winner, and at £12, a bargain too!
To accompany our dishes we had a bottle of the 2003 Vaga del Rayo, Rioja Reserva, @ £27.95, a blend of Tempranillo, Mazuelo and Graciano grapes with blackberry and plum fruit notes and sweet vanilla from its ageing in oak barrels. It was beautifully balanced and with soft tannins. This wine retails for about £10 which implies a mark-up of less than 3-fold at Bar Kick which in my opinion is fair.
To finish off, Paul and I both had the “Buttermilk panna cotta with strawberry and basil soup” @ £4.50, which was creamy and delicious.
In the nearly 5 hours that Paul and I were at Bar Kick, eating, drinking and chatting, the place got busy at different intervals, but was never unbearably packed or rowdy. Having such wonderful food also meant that a lot of customers were eating while drinking, between table football matches, which helped to create a fun rather than booze-filled atmosphere. We had a lovely time at Bar Kick, and could not believe it was nearly midnight when we said our goodbyes.
Thanks to Paul Winch-Furness who kindly photographed all the pictures in this post. Paul is one of the best food photographers in the UK, and you can see more of his stunning photography on his website here.
Cost: The London Foodie was a guest of Bar Kick.
Likes: quirky decor, table football, good quality food at very reasonable prices, excellent cocktails, good selection of beers, and friendly service.
Dislikes: with such excellent food I wish there were more tables available.
Verdict: Good quality food, beautifully executed and reasonably priced at a popular Shoreditch bar. An ideal place to spend an evening with friends over a few bottles of beer, some excellent food and table football. Highly recommended.
Written by Luiz Hara. You can read more of his restaurant reviews and articles on food in London at The London Foodie.