Pull open the reassuringly solid front doors of Blixen on Brushfield Street in Spitalfields and you’ll suddenly find yourself at the threshold of an exquisitely designed space. Opened earlier this month, Blixen will appeal to those who enjoy the stylised surroundings of such establishments as Riding House Cafe and Fischers but perhaps would prefer to keep the focus East. This bright new brasserie is sure to impress. It’s a great place to bring a date who finds pleasure in the details. In this department, nothing has been overlooked; every piece of furniture, each piece of glassware, and even the menu font and toiletries have been selected carefully. The result is impressive; it’s a unique dining space which will have you finding excuses to return. Often.
Chances are you’ll be met by one of the charming (and sharply dressed) owners at the door. These folks have a solid feel for hospitality and have managed to create an atmosphere which is buzzing and, most importantly, extremely welcoming. A European style brasserie, the menu at Blixen is concise with eight starters, eight mains and four desserts. Expect a mixture of classics such as beef carpaccio alongside a few adventurous options such as pan-fried frog’s legs (which are already becoming something of a ‘must-have’ dish). The staff are well-trained and always close at hand. Rely on their knowledge and recommendations to help you navigate the wine list and explain any unknown ingredients. Split the poussin and the bream, skip the sides and have dessert instead.
Blixen is perfect for a weeknight date. If you’d prefer a more casual atmosphere to warm up, try the Ten Bells, a classic East End boozer found just over the road. There’s a great atmosphere in there and it’s frequently bustling. If your date is a fan of cocktail bars, then Blixen is just the place. Arrive a little earlier and slip into a pair of seats at the bar. Book in for an early dinner and scoop the best seats in the house. There are cosy, secluded nooks aplenty and if you score a banquette, you’ll be rewarded with a view of the whole room where you can watch the restaurant fill up and feel the vibe building around you. The restaurant is quite large and there are plans to make expand with the introduction of an outdoor garden area and a downstairs cocktail bar, a perfect spot to slink down to if you’re hunting for somewhere a little more intimate.
Still very new on the scene, it’s difficult to find anything we didn’t love about this place. With nothing else like it in the area, it’s sure to be a hotspot so booking is essential.
4. A beautifully designed brasserie with outdoor space and underground cocktail bar just minutes from Liverpool St Station? We’re onto a bit of a winner here.