Food & DrinkRestaurant reviews

Rök this way: a Swedish Smokehouse in Shoreditch – Restaurant Review

28 August, 2015 — by Toni Ratcliff0

Rok Smokehouse and bar, Shoreditch
Let me start this review by saying that this place was so good we went back two weeks in a row… There, I feel better now I have that off my chest.

I’ve had a crush on Sweden and its beautiful people (and its harsh winters) ever since I studied there at university for a semester many more years ago now than I care to confess.

During my time I also had a brief, if studenty, introduction to Scandinavian cuisine (think meatballs, pasta with ketchup and pea soup). However in more recent years, I have come to appreciate the deep comfort and satisfaction that can be had in its simple combinations of meat, fish, potatoes, cream, pickles and gallons of snaps. For a country that is covered with blankets of snow for four to six months of the year I was always amazed at the range of delicious dishes they had in their kitchen locker.

Rök (Swedish for ‘smoke’) instantly caught my attention when it opened on Curtain Road, Shoreditch just three weeks ago. As expected from the name, they describe themselves as a smokehouse and bar and the menu offers just what you had hoped for: sharing plates of delicious cuts of meat all finished with a warm charcoal smoke flavour.

As Rök are only in their infancy their website and social channels are somewhat sparse of detail, but we went along (twice) and below are the details of almost the entire menu. Like I said, we liked it a lot. In fact it may be one of the best new restaurants in London.

Scallop in the shell with Nduja (£5)

Rök Smokehouse: Ndjua Scotch Quails Egg with Dijon mayonnaise

To begin we tried just a few of the starters on offer: four out of the five available to be exact. First up was the scallop which was served beautifully in the shell with a drizzling of Nduja oil and a casual draping of samphire. For those of you who don’t know, Nduja is a type of soft, spreadable Italian pork sausage loaded with red pepper, paprika and spicy flavours. Rök use it a lot so you’d better commit that to memory. The ever-so lovely waitress informed us that apparently the chef renders off the fat from the Nduja and then cooks the scallop in the oil so the whole dish has a really warm, chilli spiciness to it.

The scallop itself was huge and fleshy, and may be one of the biggest scallops I have ever seen. It was so soft and delicious, and you could cut through it like butter. Then you have the Nduja providing a little bit of spice and the samphire giving a salty hit to offset the heat. The whole thing was incredibly sumptuous.

Duck Pâté with knackerbrod and blackcurrant jam (£3.50)

Rök Smokehouse: Duck Pate with knäckebröd and blackcurrant jam

Knäckebröd is a Swedish wholemeal crispbread, a bit like a crunchier version of Ryvita. Little squares of this bread are served with generous squirtings of creamy duck pâté and topped with blobs of blackcurrant jam. Now, I know you might be thinking that the above photo of these look a bit like… erm, well… mini poops, but please ignore that! These little babies are really tasty. The pâté was really creamy, and light and airy in a good moussey way, not heavy at all. The rich duck flavour wasn’t too overpowering and the sweet and sharpness of the blackcurrant jam provided a great contrast. An extremely satisfying little starter.

Ndjua Scotch Quails Egg with Dijon mayonnaise (£3.50)

Rök Smokehouse: Ndjua Scotch Quails Egg with Dijon mayonnaise

Here we see the reappearance of Ndjua again, this time forming part of a Scotch egg. A tiny soft-boiled Quails egg is surrounded by spicy Ndjua and deep fried Panko breadcrumbs, and then served with some of the creamiest Dijon mayonnaise on the planet. Delicious soft, oozy egg combined with spicy sausage and creamy mayo. So far, happy faces all round.

Mussels with Wu Gang Chops The Tree (£8)

Rök Smokehouse: Mussels with Wu Gang Chops The Tree

Now I’m going to confess, I am not a huge mussel fan so I may not be the best person to comment on this. All I do know is that we were given a lot of mussels here, about 20 or so. They were tangy, fresh and served with a sauce made of Wu Gang Chops The Tree which is light ale made by Pressure Drop. Like I said, my opinion might not hold much sway, but the friends I was with ate all of these with feverish delight and then mopped up the sauce with lashings of bread. So I take that to be a good sign.

Smoke em up Jonny

In terms of main dishes, Rök offers five cuts of meat as main courses and a bunch of delicious side orders to accompany them. However, here is another confession: on both occasions when our main courses were brought out, everything that was put down in front of us was so damn delicious that nobody said a word for about 15 minutes as we were too consumed in eating and enjoying the flavour of every little thing. As such, my notes on each of the dishes is somewhat sketchy at best. But just know this: everything I mention below is absolutely incredible.

Beef with Birch syrup (£20)

Rök Smokehouse: Beef with Birch Syrup

First we have the beef, which is essentially just a delicious Ribeye steak. Cooked to medium, and then finished on the charcoal grill with birch syrup. This was as good as any steak I’ve had at Hawksmoor.

Lamb with fennel puree (£16)

Rök Smokehouse: Lamb with fennel puree

These were some huge lamb chops, really meaty and soft. Sitting on a lovely fennel puree and topped with a redcurrant sauce. The meat fell away from the bones. And then we just gnawed on the bones.

Duck with Lingonberry bacon jam (£16)

Rök Smokehouse: Duck with Lingonberry bacon jam

A thick Barbary duck breast, cooked to a perfect pink and the skin crisped and smokey. The bacon was a little lost in the lingonberry jam, but the berries themselves were a great accompaniment. Anyway, it was delicious.

Pork belly with roasted Granny Smith (£13)

Rök: Pork belly with roasted Granny Smith

Pork cooked sous vide and then finished on the charcoal grill for smokiness. On our first visit it was served with roasted Granny Smith apples (pictured), which were fine but I felt didn’t add much to the dish. However, the second time we went our pork was served with thinly sliced apples doused in a sweet apple cider vinegar, which I thought was a far more tasty plate buddy. We yummed it up.

For side dishes we also had: Charcoal Beet Salad with watercress and goats cheese (£5). These beets are cooked whole over the charcoals overnight so they get a real nice smokiness, and then they are mixed with goats cheese and walnuts. I genuinely think this is one of the greatest side-dishes I’ve ever had. Cauliflower cheese with beef dust & almonds (£5). Really soft, really creamy, unctuous cauliflower cheese, topped with shaved Bresola, which constitutes the ‘beef dust’. Decadent and delicious.

Rök: Cauliflower cheese with beef dust

Burnt sweet potato with horseradish creme fraiche (£4). Soft sweet potato chargrilled on the outside and served with a kick of horseradish. Mumsig!

Rök: burnt sweet potato

And finally, Bone Marrow Mash with garlic and parsley (£4). The yummiest mashed potato ever. Silky and smooth with the flavour of garlic and bone marrow running through it. Totally moreish.

Wood Roasted Peach with crème fraîche, Laphroaig honey and almond (£6)

Rök Smokehouse: Wood Roasted Peach

Finally we were very kindly given a dessert of roasted peach with Laphroaig whisky, some candied almonds and crème fraîche. The peach was roasted until nice and squishy, the Laphroaig sauce has a very smokey, peaty flavour but is not overpowering. The candied almonds are delicious – really sweet, sticky and chewy – and the crème fraîche is a bit sour to balance the whole thing. We weren’t even going to get dessert and we devoured the entire thing in about three minutes flat. My husband maintains this is one of his very favourite dessert experiences.

Pistachio Sour (£9)

Pistachio Sour

Oh, just one more thing, I must give a special mention to this cocktail, the Pistachio Sour. It was the first time I have ever had pistachio liqueur and it was freaking amazing! Why have I never been offered it before?! It tastes as good as it sounds.

If all of this delicious food wasn’t enough to draw you in, then all of the staff here are absolutely lovely. Every single person we interacted with couldn’t have been more helpful and did everything with a smile. I kind of want to quit my boring office job and work here. Seems like much more fun.

Now I know that this wasn’t the best, most detailed restaurant review that I have ever written, but I hope that if I just keep repeating “It was delicious! You should go!” then it might just hit home. But seriously, it was delicious, you should go! Now! While you can still get a table.

Still hungry? Find all the most delicious places to eat with our best London restaurants section, including this review of Nobu, Park Lane.

Rök, Shoreditch

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