Mediterranean bistro Joan took over the Beach Blanket Babylon site in Shoreditch late last year in between lockdowns, so it’s had a bit of stop-start time of it but now the restaurant is in full swing – we went by on a Wednesday night and it was very vibey indeed. The layout hasn’t changed from when the site was home to BBB, so there’s a central bar at the front of the space with a mezzanine level at the back, with the additions of large green potted plants and plush blue velvet banquettes.
Former Caravan Fitzrovia head chef Niko Kontogiannatos is in charge of the kitchen, with the restaurant and bar taking inspo from both his native Greece and the kind of food he was cooking up at Caravan, with everything from the breads to the ice creams being made in-house. The menu is split into small plates, large plates, pizzetta and sides so you’re not short on choice – we decided to skip the pizza and hit up the other sections.
From the small plates we went for the spiced tuna tartare on wonton crisps, which was tasty but very light on the amount of tuna; the beef short rib arancini with gochujang ailoi, the inside of the rice balls were good but they needed longer in the fryer to crisp up on the outside; and the burrata with roasted beetroots & pickled walnuts, our fave of the three. All the plates looked great but the execution on a couple of them just felt a bit rushed.
Then it was onto the cod with chicken cream sauce with baby carrots & kale, which again could have done with a bit more cooking to get a crisp skin on the fish, and the aubergine parmgiana with cheese fonduta sauce – it was very cheesy and very soft, so we’re glad we had a side of fries to dip in there to add a bit of texture. We only had room for one pud so we split the orange pie with white chocolate cream and orange gel, which is not a pie but a sponge cake, the kind that goes better with a cup of tea in the afternoon than after a big dinner.
Not all the of the dishes hit the spot for us but Joan is onto a winner with the cocktails. The Shoreditch Spritz, made with vodka, elderflower, cucumber juice, prosecco and lime, was a particular fave – super refreshing and super drinkable, and we’re not the only ones who thought so as we spotted a green glass on several of the tables, so it’s worth popping by for drinks and nibbles at least.
19-23 Bethnal Green Road, Shoreditch, E1 6LA