No one goes to a restaurant solely because of its looks. But Blixen, on the south side of Old Spitalfields Market, might make some reconsider that policy.
Essential to the appeal is the subdivision of the main room into areas that are within full sight of each other, yet somehow feel self-contained. We counted five – and that’s not including the bar, with its gorgeous canopy and soaring backbar.
This would count for zilch without good food and drink, but you’ll get both at Blixen. The menu allows you to eat either daintily or dangerously, perfect for people of every appetite. We went the dainty route at lunchtime, sharing a selection of small plates and salads. White onion soup came with a crunchy lozenge of cauliflower cheese rarebit. Salads were well-dressed and featured fine, fresh ingredients. Only the pickled mackerel (under-flavoured) in another starter let the side down, but things were revived with excellent chocolates and baked goods.
Another special feature is the offering of soft drinks. Some juice fanatics think that the drinks don’t have to taste good as long as they’re supposedly beneficial to health. Blixen knows that taste matters. This applied in both a mixed juice and in a grapefruit and coriander ‘house soda’.
At night we would do as the muscular City gents at the next table were doing, and order something more substantial – the burgers, steak and chips, and big bowls of pasta all looked good. Cocktails are reasonably priced and so is the mostly European wine list, which offers plenty of choice in order size and price. Service is wonderfully friendly and warm.
Blixen is enlarging its domain with a terrace backing onto the market, and I have no doubt that they’ll make that look lovely too. Good looks, good food, and fair prices to boot – it’s a winning combination. I’ll be back.