Tim Firmager reviews Arthur Hooper’s – a contemporary dining establishment and wine bar in London’s Borough Market sourcing local ingredients.
Located on Stoney Street, within London’s historic Borough Market, is new eatery Arthur Hooper’s. This venue reopened earlier this month, now serving small plates and sharing platters, with a curated wine list allowing diners to sample different wines with each visit.
Arthur Hooper’s opened this May, in a venue that was previously owned by a fruit salesman. The building’s ties to food and the local community continue today, as much of the ingredients used are sourced from within Borough Market itself, from suppliers including Neal’s Year, Cannon & Cannon and BreadAhead.
The small space led us to believe initially, as with most London wine bars, that we’d be jostling with people shoulder-to-shoulder, God forbid. However, the layout allows comfortable space between the circa 20 covers available in the restaurant part of the venue, and plenty of standing room and stools in the bar area. The interior has been created by Buster + Punch, featuring steel caged light fittings, custom hexagonal concrete flooring and tailored rare-wood cabinetry. These wine cabinets lining one wall of the restaurant, with frosted glass facades are reminiscent of grandma’s front door, and being backlit adds to a feeling of spaciousness.
The European mean has been designed by Chef Lale Oztek, focusing on fresh, nutritious ingredients, primarily sourced from Borough Market. The concept here is sharing plates, from either a meat, fish or vegetable selection – we chose a couple from each. We asked for our plates to arrive in an order, rather than all at once, partly to add some structure to the meal, but mainly so that gluttony wasn’t overtly apparent.
A combination of Nocellara olives (£3), Focaccia (£4) and smoked salmon paté (£7) served as a shared starter. The warm aroma of rosemary from the soft and bouncy Focaccia made for a seductive carb. Equally the generous portion of paté was well presented, although could have been boosted with more Amalfi lemon zest.
Sharing a further four (small size) dishes between two was sufficient as an equivalent main course. These we chose to be in the form of red wine and porcini braised sausages with sage breadcrumbs (£7.50), mackerel with white beans, radish and brown shrimp (£17.50), Harissa butter beans, charred tenderstem broccoli, ricotta and Nigella seeds (£7), and English asparagus with roasted hazelnuts and crispy parmesan (£5.50). Our favourite dish was the mackerel, with a rich bisque bathing the shrimp, radish and beans.
The use of fresh ingredients is apparent in all the plates that we tried. None of these dishes appear outside the ability range to cook at home, yet the theme of well-executed simplicity at Arthur Hooper’s will unlikely be recreated mid-week in any London home.
Dessert, if not cheese, is a simple choice of chocolate or cheesecake. We chose both to ‘share’ albeit one of us shared less than the other. The chocolate hazelnut pot with hazelnut crispies (£6) was smooth and rich. Baked ricotta cheese with rhubarb and orange compote (£5.50) equally satisfied, as a light, fresh finish and no graininess.
The curated wine list of over 50 bottles includes Nyetimber (£11 per glass), an English sparkling wine. We did prefer the extra-dry Prosecco (£7 per glass), but the inclusion of an English sparkling wine on Arthur Hooper’s menu again reflects the attitude of sourcing ‘local’ produce. We also chose a 2015 Gavi di Gavi (£36 per bottle) to accompany the seafood, with hints of lemon zest and apple, perfectly balancing both seafood dishes we chose.
The majority of wines are sold by the bottle, but keep a look out for the specials each day, where Arthur Hooper’s offer particular wines by the glass to try.
Arthur Hooper’s surprised us with a well-laid out interior given the small space. We would visit again because of the reasonably-priced contemporary dishes (circa £30 per person for the equivalent of three courses), and the focus on fresh, local produce. We recommend the mackerel, and braised sausages, and to take a risk with wine special of the day.
Arthur Hooper’s in Borough Market, is located at 8 Stoney Street, London, SE1 9AA.
For more information or to book a table visit www.arthurhoopers.co.uk.