Penny Squares, a term for outline embroidery known as Red work. The name of the restaurant symbolises the adorned mark that has been left on London's East End by its previous talented and eclectic inhabitants, serving modern British cuisine inspired by the international flavours of London’s vibrant neighbourhood past and present. Penny Squares itself is the cornerstone of the recently opened, Canopy by Hilton London City hotel: the brand’s first Canopy hotel in the UK and part of a growing portfolio of locally inspired contemporary hotels.
The smart yet unpretentious vibe permeates through the decor, with muted colours, exposed copper ceiling pipes and warm soft lighting that achieves the exact notes that create such a handsome space. Food-wise, the modern British concept chimes through the menu wonderfully. To start, the breads and dips are disturbingly good. Both carbohydrate connoisseurs and novices alike will very likely remark on their flavour mastery. Even if Penny Square's menu offered little else of similar esteem, the hazelnut harissa and cornbread would put it on the map.
The Madras spiced octopus with curried sweet potato, tomato and chilli is without contest. Other options are the black charcoal beef fillet with charred kale, smoked tomato - Neither will leave you disappointed.
The final savoury course is similarly dynamic, Red gurnard sat on marinated taro, garlic spinach and then a turbocharged lemongrass ginger infused lobster sauce was poured to finish; a triumphant combination that demonstrates style, skill and expertise in the kitchen. A slammin' dish, order it.
The only downer would be the lack of buzz, low level undercurrent of natter that creates a magnetic vibe. But what the restaurant lacks in energy, it more than makes up for with top quality eats and great service. Prices are a little steep too, so Penny Squares probably shouldn't be in your heavy rotation, but I recommend spending the extra bucks if you're in the area looking for a solid, faultless meal.
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Chatting Food Contributor: Erica Pilavaki
Growing up with the aroma of meat grilling over open coals, views of vine wrapped mountains and surrounded by the abundant seas of Cyprus, Erica has food and drink in her heart and soul. Contact Erica about London restaurant recommendations and the latest products in food and drink.
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