Opened in November, Lino is a new all-day restaurant and takeaway located close to London’s famous Smithfield Market. With Finnish-inspired interior design by Wright & Bell and a low-waste, made-from-scratch approach to food, it’s a compelling example of contemporary dining done well. By Jenny Southan
Lino takes its name from the fact the restaurant is in an old linoleum warehouse. Here, the team have set out to create an innovative menu of drinks and dishes, with Richard Falk (formerly head chef at Clapham’s The Dairy) heading up the kitchen. Lino’s overarching philosophy is “re-use, re-love and re-imagine”.
From making their own charcuterie and sourdough bread, to crafting botanical infusions for cocktails and butter that is cultured in-house, the chefs make as much from scratch as possible, and avoid throwing food away if they can possibly help it.
Left-over pastries from breakfast are used to make croissant ice cream, for example, and meat and vegetables are pickled and cured on-site. Fresh produce is seasonal and sustainably sourced, and both plant-based and carnivorous diets are equally well catered for.For a restaurant located in the City, a place swarming with wealthy bankers, this kind of frugality is unusual. But it’s also an indication of how consumer attitudes are changing and how new rules boundaries are motivating people to be more creative – and responsible.Lino serves filtered still and sparkling water by Belu, a social enterprise that gives 100 per cent of its profits to the charity WaterAid, and stocks ethical luxury soap from The Soap Co in its washrooms. Floral arrangements are from Purgatory Flowers, which use only British blooms and foliage.
Taking cues from minimalist Finnish design, Lino is decorated in shades of peach, salmon pink, and rustic green with antique brass fixtures. It has also gone to efforts to install salvaged light fittings. At the centre is a clover-shaped, waxed tulipwood bar. Shelves are lined with craft spirits and jars of house ferments.When I visited, my guests and I began by sampling some snacks and small plates in the form of moreish sauerkraut and Cheddar croquettes with truffled mayo; Lino charcuterie with aioli, pickled baby onions and hazelnut; baby gem lettuce leaves with bacon, miso and smoked buttermilk dip; grilled mackerel with oyster mayonnaise and Lino pickles; aged beef tartare; and roasted beetroot with black garlic, dates and cashew.This was a real opportunity for flavour grazing. There were some unusual pairings that really popped but nothing was so avant garde it was off-putting. In fact, everything was tantalisingly delicious, and went well with a bottle of Sicilian Baglio Bianco IGP orange wine (£42).
I’d also recommend the barrel-aged house negroni, £10, which is a very classy pour.Following this we shared larger plates of risotto with black rice, wild garlic and roasted courgette (rich and chewy in a healthy kind of way) and Tamworth pork chop with hispi cabbage and smoked apple puree.
On the menu this summer are dishes including puffed pork skins with house-made kimchi, Lino charcuterie with fermented fennel, and crispy Porthilly oyster with wasabi mayonnaise. Price range from about £7-£13 for small plates and £15-322 for large plates.