Leroy is in a quiet side street in Shoreditch, opening in March 2018 in premises that used to be a wine bar called Edwin’s. The team behind it formerly ran Ellory, with the head chef being Sam Kamienko and two of the owners formerly having worked in the wine trade. The dining room looks into the open kitchen, and the place has a casual feel, with tightly packed tables. The menu was, inevitably, a “small plates” format.
The wine list we were shown at the table was much longer than the version on their web site, and was not entirely full of “natural” wines. It started at £25, with labels such as Montepulciano Giusi Tenuta Terraviva 2017 at £42 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £10, BK Wines Skin and Bones 2016 at £58 compared to its retail price of £25, and the Sonoma wine Scholium Project The Prince in His Caves 2016 at £80 for a wine that will set you back £51 in the high street. For those with the means there was Lisini Brunello di Montelcino 2007 at £105 compared to its retail price of £54, and Bereche et Fils Reflet d’Antan Brut NV at £120 for a wine whose current market value is £102.
Sourdough bread (at £3.20 extra) was bought in but was very good, having a nice crust. A famous 2014 article by US food writer Alan Richman gave some suggested signs that you are eating what he termed Egotarian Cuisine. One of these was this: “Bread is designated as one of your courses. If it is the best course then you’re having New Nordic Dude Food”. For some reason this article sprang into my mind at this point.
Quail was served on a skewer and was properly cooked, coming with a sauce with a sharp kick of espelette pepper. I am fond of quail and I like spice but here the pepper felt crudely applied, dominating the delicate quail (12/20). Purple sprouting broccoli (£9.50) came with yoghurt and anchovy dressing. This was harmless enough, the broccoli cooked al dente, resting in a pool of yoghurt, but ultimately this is a stick of broccoli in some yoghurt, so there are limits as to how thrilling it is ever going to be (12/20). Coco beans with an egg from Cacklebean farm in the Cotswolds came with chanterelles (£14). This was pleasant, the mushrooms nice enough and the egg having quite good flavour, but it was too salty even to my taste and this was hardly exciting (12/20).
Magret (breast) of Moulard duck (£43) with lentils and crabapple jelly was cooked all right, though for me there could have been more lentils relative to the duck, which seemed to me under-seasoned. The duck itself was pleasant and had reasonable flavour, this duck noted for its fat content, served with red bitter leaves but nothing else. However for me this needed some extra flavour elements to complement the bird, and more seasoning for the duck itself (12/20).
Almond cake came with quince and hazelnut ice cream. This was inoffensive but lacked any dynamism either (12/20). Coffee was from a company called Assembly in Brixton, and was very nice. Ultimately the best things at the meal were the bread and the coffee, both of which the kitchen had nothing to do with apart from shopping.
The staff we encountered were friendly. The bill was £179 each, albeit with two bottles of wine between us. If you were more abstemious and shared a modest bottle of wine then a typical cost per person might be around £80 per person. This is still a lot of money, especially given the level of cooking that we encountered. It is the sort of food that you might encounter in any number of gastropubs, but at a quite high price point. The Michelin star that was awarded in 2018 is baffling to me, but even if I ignore that then the question is still whether this represents value for money. For me it does not, even remotely, which makes the Michelin decision all the more perplexing, given that value for money is supposed to be one of the criteria that they use.