Lying just off Brick Lane, this low-lit restaurant-bar is one you’ll be grateful to enter after running the gauntlet of curry-house hawkers. As you’d expect, Pickled Fred’s fusion menu centres around pickled and preserved food, marked chiefly by North African, Middle Eastern and Asian influences. Think soy, harissa and chermoula: the sort of fiery, punchy flavours that hold their own between rounds of drinks. (Management have probably noted the resounding success of nearby Hopscotch, which delivers a fabulous menu along similar lines.)
Sadly, the grub didn’t quite live up to the flavours promised. While a plate of tiger prawns was nice and garlicky, the harissa-marinated octopus was chewy and little else. The same applied to a slightly chalky plate of roasted cauliflower doused in tahini.
Nay matter. Service was cheerful and swift, and contributed to a cosy atmosphere, while the cocktails weren’t to be scoffed at, the tangy Bamboo Shoot – a mix of gin, manzanilla sherry and pear liquor – in particular. Don’t go to this place for a big meal; opt for nibbles and focus on the drinks list instead. It could result in a whole different kind of pickledness.