A Taste of the Mediterranean in Shoreditch

There’s a lovely laid-back vibe at JOAN.  Unlike other Shoreditch eateries, this all-day bar and bistro isn’t too cool for school. [...]

There’s a lovely laid-back vibe at JOAN.  Unlike other Shoreditch eateries, this all-day bar and bistro isn’t too cool for school. Located in an old leather factory on Bethnal Green Road, just opposite Shoreditch High Street station, JOAN is a vibrant yet relaxed destination in the heart of east London.

The open kitchen faces the large bar that dominates the front of the restaurant, a great spot to people watch and try one of their signature cocktails.  The cocktail list is simple and made up of eight speciality blends, I started the night with a Spice Paloma Spritz which combines tequila, grapefruit, jalapeno and soda.  The jalapeno brings a bit of heat to this moreish sip while the grapefruit and soda make it deliciously refreshing. 

After a couple of drinks at the bar I recommend moving to the mezzanine area at the back of the restaurant. Exposed brickwork walls, blue velvet booths and lots of indoor plants give it a fresh contemporary feel.  There’s a fire built into the wall which adds to the ambience and cosiness. The tables face back out towards the bar bringing the buzz of the bar back up to the restaurant area.

The Mediterranean menu is split into small plates, large plates, pizzetta and sides so there’s plenty of choice.  There’s an eclectic mix of tapas style dishes and Italian bites. Head Chef, Niko Kontogiannatos brings his Greek influence to the table with a nod to his heritage.  Everything is freshly made in house from the bread through to the sorbet.

My waitress recommended I try a couple of the small plates and a large plate to experience a variety of flavours.   I ordered a main plate of grilled chicken thighs, corn salsa, black beans and sour cream sauce which my dinner date devoured.  The small plates selection is packed with dishes that are delicious and light.  The rocket salad, halloumi and cherry tomatoes was fresh and the cider vinegar dressing with pine nuts add a little umph.  The cauliflower steak was surprisingly tasty, the caramelised puree with pomegranate and tahini complement each other nicely.   I continued to nibble on the succulent chicken skewers with raita and picked away at olives until I was spent.  Dinner was paired with a lively, zesty South African Sauvignon.  The wine list here, is a blend of light, subtle whites, and punchy reds. There’s also a couple of sparkling options and a Rose from Provence.

I never quite know how much to order when it comes to small plate menus but this was just enough, I skipped the desert though the choices include a tempting mix of brownie, chocolate mouse and sorbet.

The service is warm and friendly.  JOAN is a great shout for mid-week drinks with friends or a date night dinner.

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