Very rarely do we find ourselves in a restaurant where an entire menu is so impressive that it blows you away. Last year, it was our experience at Foleys. This time, it is the turn of the newly opened Tuyo at Broadway Market, Hackney.
Tucked away at one end of the Cat and Mutton Bridge in Hackney, the restaurant offers pleasant views of the Regent’s Canal through its floor-to-ceiling windows, letting in lots of natural light – perfect for those Instagram clicks!
Upon entering, one feels like they’ve been transported into a Mediterranean cafe. Pristine, whitewashed walls lend a blank canvas to interesting details such as woven baskets (masquerading as light shades), bright neon signage, lush and overflowing verdant greenery, light wooden and rope chairs and soft leather banquettes.
All that fresh, bright and white decor is contrasted by a striking blue bar in the centre, with marble top and brass detailing. It is a bit like sunny California meets Greece.
A friendly, fresh-faced waitress takes our drinks order promptly after we are seated. We order a crisp, summery and slightly fizzy wine from Portugal to accompany our delicious spread.
The food here is a celebration of Mediterranean cuisine, mostly Spain but also influenced by Greece and Italy. Chef Ricardo Pimental (ex-Salt Yard) and his talented team have put together a carefully curated, produce-led, captivating menu.
Our waitress recommends we order some Homemade Tuyo Bread (£4.50) to start with. The selection includes olive, sultana & fennel and pumpernickel bread. The breads are warm and delicious, but it’s the house butter that steals the show. Warm, slightly sweet (almost honey-like) and nutty, it is quite addictive, whether slathered over bread or licked directly from the spoon!
From the ‘Pinchos’ section, we order the Prawns and Padron Pepper, Sicilian Cherry Tomato, Lilliput Capers Salad (£6). The prawns have a subtle smoky flavour whilst the giant Padron peppers, flame-blistered and beautifully grassy, have a mild kick. The entire dish is wonderfully underpinned by that sweet, juicy salad of fresh tomatoes and capers, herb-flecked and drizzled in olive oil.
The second Pincho is the Lamb Rump, Pisto, Black Olive Couscous, Pistachio and Harissa Dressing (£6). The slightly charred meat is tender and robust, bedecked with crunchy pistachio crumbs, resting on a bed of Mediterranean couscous. The spicy kick coming from the harissa is offset by a smooth, cooling yoghurty dip.
Even though the dishes are from the Pinchos (small bites) section, the portion sizes are very generous. I would factor that in when ordering.
Moving onto the large plates, there are two very strong contenders that catch our attention from the ‘Fish’ section. The first one is the Salt Cod, Lime Confit, Black Tiger Prawn, Garlic Potato Puree, Coconut Migas. (£9). The sharpness from the garlicky puree balances the mellow, aromatic, super-comforting broth that it comes floating in. Personally, I am not the biggest fan of the ‘fishy’ Salt Cod and this is probably my least favourite of all the dishes.
The Seabream, Puy Lentils, Avocado Puree, Mint, Gremolata Goat’s Cheese (£8) on the other hand is spot on. The crispy skin of the bream, the moist and delicate flesh under, the earthiness from the lentils, the creaminess of the avocado and the punch from the perfect blobs of the goat cheese all work together in gastronomic harmony.
Meat dishes are equally super. Kris orders the Spiced Lamb Tagine, Creamy Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Greek Yoghurt, Marsala Apricots, Prunes (£12.50). It is luxurious, warming and full-flavoured. Personally, we would have preferred a bit more heat, which would elevated this dish from excellent to outstanding.
My favourite dish of the day is the Duck Breast – Bulgur Wheat, Date Chutney, Nutmeg Carrot Puree (£8.50). Beautiful, succulent, pink slivers of duck rest over the bulgur wheat. The date chutney is dense, sweet and sticky, lending a certain je ne sais quoi to the rest of the plate.
The excellence extends to desserts which is a decadent ‘Pick Me Up’ – Banana and Pecan Cake soaked in Marsala Coffee Syrup, topped with Mascarpone (£6). The Italian influence is clearly visible in this dish. It has a creamy and frothy top, hiding a dense layer of spongy cake in the bottom, served in an attractive green teacup. The idea is to dig deep with your spoon till you reach the bottom and pick up all the layers in one scoop – hence the name!
Throughout the day, service is faultless. The staff are young, friendly and chatty. Food arrives fast but once everything is on the table, they leave us to enjoy in peace and do not rush us. Tuyo has only been opened for 12 weeks at the time of our visit. However, everything runs so smoothly that one would never guess that.
The food here is exemplary, well-presented and inspired. The cooking is ace. Every dish is bursting with colour, flavours and textures, with attention given to every detail.
I am definitely coming back!
More information can be found here.
Disclaimer: All photos and opinions are mine. I review anonymously and pay for my meals. The total cost of this meal was discounted as it was part of Hot Dinners promotion.