Please note: Verden is now closed. Time Out Food & Drink Editors, October 2016.
Few things please me more than a local restaurant that tries to achieve perfection in everything. It’s a bit like the saying that to bring about positive change, you should ‘think globally, act locally.’ In the context of restaurants, this means creating a place that can compete with any in London but placing it in a spot that you’d assume only locals will go to. If you make it good enough, non-locals get the word. And the casual local becomes a destination restaurant.
Verden is one of those places. Run by a partnership whose background includes Scott’s, the grand-luxe Mayfair seafood restaurant, it occupies a sharply angled corner site and makes the most of its quirky geometries with big windows, lots of matte grey, lots of wood, elegant light fittings.
We started Sunday lunch with two own-cured items from the charcuterie list, saucisson and pork loin served with excellent sourdough from the White Hat Bakery in Bow: a good shared starter.
Main dishes were even better. Smoked salmon royale (£8) featured a generous portion of superb fish from the Lambton & Jackson smokehouse, and a classy dotting of salmon roe. Better still was the club sandwich (£9): roast chicken, melted lardo, pancetta, lettuce, datterini tomatoes, Comté cheese, and celeriac remoulade on toasted sourdough. Complex, dense with flavour – this was a five-star sandwich.
Though plunged into food envy when a nearby table ordered salted caramel chocolate pot, we were too full to follow suit.
On a Tuesday we might go for ‘steak night’; other nights the prices rarely top £15 for mains. This is a great pricing policy for a local restaurant – and made exceptional by the quality of the cooking.
Wines are all sold by the glass – and, like the cheeses and charcuterie, for takeaway whenever the restaurant is open. Service is friendly, attentive, and almost embarrassingly scrupulous: when our mains arrived after a very slightly overlong wait, we got a profuse apology and the offer of a free drink to compensate.
After we’d left, my companion said she would kill to have Verden at the end of her road. So would I. Claptonites are lucky to have this place, and they know it: Verden was voted best Clapton restaurant in last year’s Time Out Love London Awards. Want to think global and act local? Go to Verden and see how it’s done. Richard Ehrlich