A cross between an art installation, restaurant, laboratory and factory, this new east London restaurant defies all convention. Following on from the phenomenal success of founder Alex Hunter’s fish shop and seafood bar in Chelsea, this futuristic 12-seater chefs table offers an immersive, omakase-style dining experience and a seafood processing plant all under the same railway arch in Haggeston. Helmed by experimental Portuguese chef Leandro Carreira and responsible for creating some of the capital’s most inventive new dishes, The Sea, The Sea is our London restaurant review of the week.
This being east London, you could be forgiven for thinking the whole turbot you see hanging in the window of a repurposed railway arch is the latest installation by some up-and-coming local artist. In fact, the handsome specimen on display is being held in the walk-in aging room of new destination restaurant The Sea, The Sea, until Portuguese chef Leandro Carreira deems it ready to cook.
Inside, there’s space for just 12 seats a night around the horseshoe-shaped counter. Here, Carreira serves his ambitious £110-a-head ‘omakase’-style menu to the kind of hardcore foodies who think nothing of schlepping to Haggerston in hot pursuit of the umami hit that only ten-day aged turbot with a sauce made of four different vinegars will deliver.
That’s not all that’s happening under the arches: the restaurant is one arm of seafood wholesalers The Sea, The Sea (founded by Alex Hunter, ex-Bonnie Gull), whose swanky fish shop and seafood bar opened in Chelsea in 2019, and whose rapidly growing wholesale business now operates out of Hackney, distributing day boat fish from British waters to the most discerning Michelin-star chefs across the capital (among them, Ikoyi’s Jeremy Chan, and the Clove Club’s Isaac McHale).
The kitchen is Carreira’s domain. The chef, who came up through Mugaritz and Nuno Mendes’ Viajante, is known for challenging, cerebral cooking that draws on influences from Japan and his native Portugal. For every dish that leaves us scratching our heads (the spongey langoustine layer cake of seaweed, egg and langoustine floss is one such) there are five others that have us all but licking the plates.
An avant-garde ascetic minimalism defines the best: Isle of Man scallops and kombu; razor clams hiding under a sheet of shiny black garlic; and a coiled ribbon of chilled kohlrabi with caviar. Caviar returns in a dessert, a dense, rich Portuguese pão de ló (egg cake) with toasted fennel ice cream that elicits an expression of pure delight from everybody in the room. Book now while it’s still possible to get a seat.