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An attractively done-up Clapton restaurant with some good food, good drinks, and deeply wonderful service.
Rootdown’s ‘mission’ is to bring colourful veg to the plates of Clapton in the most sustainable way. This is hardly an original proposition in an area that has gentrified so fast it’s now less Murder Mile than Mulching Mile. It’s not a vegetarian restaurant, though, with a regularly changing menu that offers a tempting hodgepodge of world dishes. So in among the beetroot tops and broccoli you’ll find braised pork loins and a variety of fish dishes.
Although buses whizz past towards the Lea Bridge Roundabout, much is done indoors to create the right kind of atmosphere, with trip hop on the stereo and plants weaving around up-cycled shelving. Visiting on a week night, we were among the many gal pals out for a catch-up – I guess vegetables attract that kind of crowd. As do original cocktails like the coriander and chilli margarita. The restaurant also provides a brunch menu of sourdough and avocado combos now prolific in this part of town.
Rootdown is not, somewhat surprisingly, a small-plates place. You can order individual courses, although the menu doesn’t make it entirely clear and staff encourage a shared-plate approach. Beyond this confusion, there’s real skill in the kitchen, particularly in a pretty, zesty mackerel ceviche (£8.50) that had the perfect kick of acidity. It was a shame that accompanying rye bread arrived late and added little to the dish (especially when claggy in the centre).
Pan-fried pollock (£15) came with a salsa verde so heavy in basil it resembled pesto, but peppery flavour from slivers of black radish and saltiness from parma ham crisps and bottarga (cured fish roe) elevated the humble fish a notch. One of Rootdown’s most popular dishes combines polenta with mushrooms, asparagus, parmesan and truffle oil (£13) – it’s addictive stuff, showing the kitchen at its best when working with more traditional taste combinations.
Best of all is the star service from waitresses who make conversation with the greatest ease and reel off recommendations that come from the heart. With such accommodating service, we’re sure many a Claptonite will be putting roots down here.
237 Lower Clapton Rd
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