Test Driving Behind - taking counter dining to the next level

roomA look at the whole counter (peeking into the kitchen at the back)

What can you tell us about Behind?

It's the dream restaurant of chef Andy Beynon, who previously worked for Jason Atherton as development chef. He's now going it alone in London Fields with Behind, which is all about opening up the whole experience from the kitchen to the counter.

We visited Behind just before the lockdown kicked in - but it reopens with all other London restaurants on the week we write this.

Counter dining as a focus, then?

Counter dining plus. we'd say. The closest thing to it in London right now is Kitchen Table (which is undergoing renovation at the time of writing). But even with that in mind, this is quite unique.

While the finishing-off action happens in the middle of the counter (see below) the space opens up further so you can see everything that's going on in all areas. When social distancing isn't a big thing any more, part of the evening's dining will be in and around the kitchen itself - but right now, it's all at the main counter. 

With plenty of COVID measures in place?

Absolutely - the distancing between us and other diners was some of the roomiest we've seen, and the counter itself is pretty deep too. 

roomPrepping in the middle of the counter (you can just make it out but they're wearing transparent masks). That centre point is where everything is finished off before being brought to diners. 

Where is it?  

It's in London Fields, about a few minutes from the station, and has taken over the space that most recently held Fold Pizza. But even you've been there before, it's all changed dramatically. 

What about a drink nearby?

First off - this is obviously for when we're back to tier 1. There are quite a few options close at hand and our personal favourite is Martello Hall, which has always been always a good place to meet up. Alternatively, there's the London Fields brewery taproom just around the corner and plenty more options down nearby Broadway Market. 

They also have a small wine bar as part of Behind. It was still getting ready to launch when we visited - but that definitely looks promising. 

What about the food - what can we expect? 

It's a single set menu, served to everyone in the same sitting with seafood as the primary (but not sole) focus. Dishes are small, but there are a lot of them with a good steady pace to the meal.

Here's a taste of some of the 10+ courses we had on the night: 

roomThings start with a delicate cheese, celeriac and winter pear tartlet - just to set you off. 

roomNative Lobster muffin and yuzu - small but perfectly formed, this is an English muffin topped with lobster butter, claw meat dressed in ponzu, roasted tail, sea fennel and yuzu. A bite-sized delight. 

roomGalway (our second home) native oyster,  with wasabi, chive, buttermilk, cucumber and oyster foam. This comes with a second element (many of the courses are two-part) which is an oyster leaf taco. 

roomMushroom tea and toast - cep custard, roasted Hen of the Woods mushroom, sourdough toast - a creation that brings the flavours of the woods together. In the back, there's the mushroom tea for more intense flavour. 

roomThis is the Crab Jelly - Cornish crab, brown crab pannacotta, dressed sweet white meat, spiced plum juice and shave chestnuts. Obviously, they had us at brown crab pannacotta.

roomRoasted hake, clams and sherry - with seafood at the heart of the menu, this shows just how beautifully they cook and present it. 

roomBut it's not all about seafood - this is guinea fowl poached in cabbage with delice pumpkin and seed and pumpkin vinegar. it comes with a side of confit leg, 
chard cabbage and kale pie.

roomAnd (almost) finally, there's the second of two desserts, the chocolate and salted ricotta  - that's set 72% chocolate and honey, ricotta ice cream and black olives

And what about drink?

You can either choose what you want or go with the pairing - and we'd definitely recommend the latter as it really added another level to the evening, with each class pairing one or two courses. 

Anything else?

Yes - there's actually something to take away with you. They've created a pastry that will be perfect for first thing the next morning - a touch we were very appreciative of:

roomYes, we were very pleased to remember that we had this the next morning. 

Overall thoughts

As mentioned above, Behind was one of the last restaurants we visited pre-Lockdown 2.0 and we're so glad we went. It was everything that we can't get in our own kitchen - great attention to detail from expert chefs, a convivial atmosphere while still remaining nice and socially distant, a fun and interesting wine pairing and most importantly an excellent meal. There's nothing else quite like it in town right now and if you've been craving something that showcases what the London food scene is capable of - this is well worth your attention. 

Hot Dinners ate as guests of Behind. Prices are correct at the time of writing.  


More about Behind

Where is it? 20 Sidworth Street, London E8 3SD

How to book: book online at behindrestaurant.co.uk/book

Find out moreVisit their website or follow them on Instagram @behindrestaurant.


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