Lyles opened in April 2014, a casual, airy dining room on the Shoreditch High Road, with an open kitchen, white tiles passing for décor and no tablecloths. The room can seat 50 people at capacity. The head chef is James Lowe, who cooked at St John Bread and Wine and at the Ten Bells pop-up.
The menu was short, with starters priced £5.90 to £10.50, main courses (only three listed) £12.90 to £15.70 and desserts (just two available) at £5.90. At dinner there is a £39 fixed menu. The wine list had just over 50 offerings at generally quite kind mark-up levels. Examples were the excellent Riesling van Hovel Spatlese 2010 at £40 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £22, Filippi Tardiva Soave 2007 at £60 for a label that retails at £37, and Gabrio Bini Serragghia Zibibbo 2013 at £85 for a wine that will set you back £66 in a shop.
Bread was made from scratch in the kitchen and had good texture (14/20). A starter of asparagus and walnuts was simple but had very good asparagus (14/20), while a tartare of Dexter beef came with a mussel emulsion and land cress leaves. This had nice meat and the leaves had a pleasant hint of spiciness, though for me a little more seasoning would have been an improvement (13/20). St George’s mushrooms with a gull’s egg was pleasant enough, but the mushrooms, while certainly seasonal, had limited flavour (12/20).
Mackerel was served with burnt apple and horseradish, a pleasing balance of flavours, though again for me a little more horseradish would have been useful. The mackerel itself was of good quality (13/20). Flank of Highland beef came with wild garlic and onions, and was quite tender, something by no means certain with this cut of beef, the onions and garlic a good foil for the meat (14/20).
For dessert, treacle tart with raw milk ice cream was pleasingly light, the ice cream a good foil to the richness of the treacle (14/20). Chocolate with soured cream was suitably rich, the quality of the chocolate very good, the texture enjoyable (14/20). Espresso was small in volume but big on flavour, and at £2 priced less aggressively than many London restaurants.
Service was friendly and efficient. The bill came to £40, with just water to drink. If you shared a modest bottle of wine then a typical cost per head would be around £60. This seems to me very acceptable at dinner. With no lunch concessions you have to bear in mind that you can eat three courses at (say) Michelin starred Alyn William at The Westbury for £30, so at lunch this seems less competitive. Overall Lyles offers simple, enjoyable food with no fuss, providing a very pleasant dining experience.