Cycene is the new restaurant at Blue Mountain School on Redchurch Street in Shoreditch – it took over the space that was previously Mãos last year. Cycene is headed up by chef Theo Clench, who was previously at Portland and most recently at West African spot Akoko in Fitzrovia. The space has been remodelled and redecorated for Cycene and it’s clearly been working out very well already, as the restaurant picked up a Michelin star earlier this year, just five months after opening. 

The Cycene experience begins at the downstairs bar, where you’ll have your first course with an aperitif. We had some incredible bread, served with three different butters (including an insanely good chicken butter) alongside a cool broth dotted with house-made vinegars and oils. To drink, we loved the Austrian fizzy red ‘Ordinaire’ by Claus Preisinger and the punchy Old Fashioned cocktail. 

For the next course, you’re taken upstairs to the kitchen, where Theo and team will serve one of the best dishes of the night: a slice of aged tuna belly which is lightly cooked in front of you on a hot Himalayan salt block, and then topped with melted foie gras and wasabi. It was a perfect fatty flavour bomb, cut through nicely with that hit of wasabi. We could have happily eaten several slices and gone home. 

After the kitchen course, you’re into the proper dining room, a tiny, charming little place with wood-panelled walls and Persian rugs. The tasting menu now begins in earnest with some exceptional snacks – just try to pick your favourite between the Comte, walnut and onion buns; the hamachi tartare with sesame and pair; and the duck liver mousse with red pepper. 

Next up was the biggest oyster we’ve ever seen – so big, it was sliced into several pieces and served in its shell with a cucumber sauce and a dollop of N25 caviar. Then, probably the biggest, juiciest scallop we’ve ever seen, cooked slowly confit and served with a brilliant tomato and Japanese ginger sauce. This just might have been the dish of the night. Lots of chefs like to talk about the quality of their produce and suppliers, but Theo really does have his seafood sourcing on lockdown it seems.

Turbot, aged in-house by the team, is served with a fish bone caramel and a lettuce and sake sauce, both the sauces eventually mixing together on the plate to create a new super sauce that perfectly sets off the fish. We had aged turbot once before, which felt like a waste of a good turbot, but this was a whole different league. 

One final savoury course of aged Hereford beef served with sea buckthorn and black truffle is succeeded by one of the best desserts we’ve had in a while, a super light chocolate mousse on top of wafer-thin biscuit and topped with crème crue (raw unpasteurised cream).

A special mention must also go to the ‘half and half’ wine / soft drinks pairing we had – you see this a lot in Copenhagen but it hasn’t really caught on here yet. It’s perfect if you’re looking to drink a bit less without sacrificing the booze altogether. In between the wine servings, you get to try some really interesting soft drinks and kombuchas that have all been made in-house too. It was nice to finish the meal not totally smashed as is usually the case with a full matching wine flight. Maybe we’re just getting old….

Cycene is one of the best meals we’ve had in a while and well worthy of its accolades. Highly recommended. 

Cycene, 9 Chance St, London E2 7JB