Arthur Hooper’s is a relatively new addition to London Bridge and a stone’s throw away from the already vibrant food scene at Borough Market. Given that it is in an already competitive dining area full of crowd pleasers, Arthur Hooper’s does well to make its mark. In days gone by, it was once owned by a greengrocer, Arthur Hooper, hence its name.
Historically significant, the interior, designed by local London Bridge design studio Buster+Punch, features a rough jewel box concept, drawing on inspiration from the historic markets and cobbled nearby streets. Finishing touches include crafted steel caged light fittings, a custom hexagonal concrete floor and artworks by acclaimed artists Matt Small and Dan Hillier. There is a mixture of high tables and stools, “wrap around column” tables as well as quieter tables along an imposing steel-caged, back-lit bottle shelved wall. In all, the ambience is relaxed and casual.
Arthur Hooper’s has a sharing-plate offering, with the Mediterranean/Italian menu by Chef Lale Oztek expertly and lovingly showing off local produce and seasonality by drawing on products from Borough market and London based suppliers including Cannon & Cannon, Bread Ahead and Androuet.
Being faithful to British producers we ordered two glasses of local sparkling wine Nyetimber to accompany our meal ((£11 per glass) which was crisp and smooth. What a great way to begin our meal!
We decided to skip the “small bites” and go straight to the small plates as there were so many tempting items on the menu. From the cold cuts section, we couldn’t resist trying the Hot Smoked Pork Belly (£4.50) from Welsh Trealy Farm. These shavings of thin slivers of pork was melt-in-the-mouth fatty and delectable. Karina, being from Russia, particularly loved this plate as it was reminiscent of “salo”, the Slavic preserved fat typically served on rye bread.
Next we tried burrata with a samphire and almond salad (£9.50) which was glorious. The cheese itself was creamy and velvety and very delicious. And in total, the dish was a perfect counterbalance between the smoothness of the cheese and the sharp saltiness of the samphire and crunchiness of the nuts.
Beef carpaccio with a salsa verde, capezzana olive oil (£10.50) was simple but wonderful. The beef was tender, succulent and rare. The freshness of the salsa worked well with the rich flavour of the thinly sliced beef.
One of the highlights of the even was the Gower clams with courgettes in a Nduja sauce (£8.50/12.50). Nduja, being a spicy pork salami with a mixture of Italian spices melted wonderfully into the sauce to produce a wonderfully tasting contrast to the shellfish. We needed bread for dipping!
Knowing that the chef is a dab hand at pasta making we tried two pasta dishes and were not disappointed. One was a nod to autumn – handmade pappardelle with Scottish giroles, porcini mushrooms and creme fraiche (£9/£16.50). Cooked al dente, the pasta was wonderful and creamy.
Also al dente was the paccheri with slow cooked beef ragu and rocket (£9.50/16.50). Similarly delicious, the pasta was rich from the aromatic ragu which had been beautifully cooked.
For dessert, we tried the chocolate hazelnut pot with a salted caramel biscuit (£6) and ricotta cheesecake with a rhubarb orange compote (£5.50). The desserts were decent but not as strong in their execution as the savoury part of the meal. The chocolate was good, but we would have preferred a richer chocolate flavour. And the cheesecake, this offered a great texture, but was a little bland.
The service was friendly but not overpowering, with the staff proving to be very knowledgeable. Dishes were brought out slowly to allow us both sufficient time to eat without having the need to rush.
Overall the food at Arthur Hooper’s deserved top marks. The food was destination worthy, and the pricing very affordable. The venue was however a little noisy, and so it felt more like a bar-dining experience than a restaurant with a proper sit-down offering.
1) All the savoury courses were delicious, particularly the clams.
2) The freshness and seasonality of the produce.
1) The venue is noisy
Food rating: 4/5
Service rating: 3.75/5
Price: About £32 to £45 a head, excludes drinks and service.
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