Deep in the bowels of Shoreditch we discover this newly opened and intriguing sounding restaurant – TraTra (French term meaning a mix of traditional and contemporary). Part of the same management that runs Boundary Rooftop Bar, the concept of this place is modish French tapas, some that stick to the formula and some with modern interpretations.
Narrow stairs lead us to a subterranean level that suddenly opens onto a vast but dimly lit space. The interiors are sleek and tasteful, brimming with chattering diners. The space is defined by intimate nooks created by cozy circular booths, gleaming bar and thumping beats belted out by a DJ in the background. It has a stylish but unpretentious vibe.
We plough through the menu, one small plate at a time. Starting with the Gougère (cheese choux pastry, with goat’s cheese and chive cream, sun-dried tomato). They are scrumptious little savoury morsels; buttery crumbly pastry with an aromatic cheesy filling sandwiched in between. I could easily scoff a couple of these in under a minute.
The Croque Monsieur (Chorizo, Comté, truffle, spring onion) is cheesy, but a tad dry. I would have liked the cheese layer to be a bit more fresh and bubbling. The thin chorizo layer in the middle has a lovely oily flavour; like a mini charcuterie in my mouth.
I don’t care much for the Celeriac ‘Risotto’ (with Truffled Parmesan, Cream). It’s a bit underwhelming and ‘soupy’ for me but Kris loves it and pretty much devours the entire bowl.
On the other side of the spectrum is the Vegetable Tagine (chunky vegetables, tomatoes, chickpeas, ras-el-hanout, orange blossom, cous cous). It is full of big flavours, homely and rustic; almost a misfit in this snazzy, jazzy place. It could have done with a touch of seasoning though.
From the meat mains, the Braised Five Spice Pork Cheek is all sorts of sticky, chewy and deliciously fatty, served over a fragrant sweet potato puddle. This would make a perfect autumn/winter dish and meat lovers would lap it up!
The big surprise is the Carpaccio of Beef that Kris originally ordered just for himself. The shimmery thin slivers of lightly seared meat are gutsy and full of flavour. The accompanying parmesan, tapenade and capers impart saltiness that makes this dish go far. I am traditionally not a fan of carpaccio but keep finding myself going back for more, much to the annoyance of Kris who has suddenly developed a ‘Joey’ attitude of not wanting to share his food.
But for me it is the Mint Crust Lamb Chops, smothered with garlic and parsley dipping butter, Dijon mustard and flecked with herbs that is the ultimate winning dish of the evening. The melt-in-the-mouth, slightly charred meat makes me want to skip dessert and order a second round. I actually end up doing just that!
The service is friendly, attentive and fast but not rushed. The large open kitchen is bustling, with the all-glass frontage giving us full views of the behind-the-scenes pots and pans action.
So in the end, the food is a mixed bag for me but a winner for Kris. I find everything appetising but not ground-breaking or earth-shatteringly memorable. This restaurant would definitely appeal to the post-work crowd of Shoreditch looking for a venue to kick back, unwind and relax over some wine, charcuterie and lively tunes.
Location: 2-4 Boundary Street, Shoreditch, London E2 7dd
More information can be found here.