Blixen, in the corner of Spitalfields market, is the latest excellent venture from the owner of The Garrison, Village East, Riding House Cafe etc. and is probably the prettiest of the lot. On the market side, there's a lovely little terrace (check out some pics here, scroll down to about a third of the way down the page) which is enough to tempt anyone in and the interior doesn't disappoint either; lots of palms, greenery and brightly whitewashed rustic chic that is still warm, welcoming and a bit glam for dinners. I want my whole house like it.
We visited as a group of four with me being the first to arrive and narrowly avoiding a seat at the lovely bar, I opted to head straight to the table which was a cosy booth right in front of the pass - my favourite spot so that I can have a nose at all the dishes coming out of the kitchen.
The menu was my idea of absolute heaven; so much so that we struggled to get past the amazing sounding nibbles and starters...
In the end, we shunned the mains and ordered almost all of the nibbles and starters instead to share, plus a bottle or two of well priced Sangiovese (though it must be said I did have a fairly passable mocktail to be going on with). So, here they all are - as usual ignore the badly lit photography.
First up, the chorizo bites and some divinely smooth and silky taramasalata:
The baby squid - or chipirones - is the title shot and was utterly addictive. Perfectly light, crisp and no sign of rubber.
Next, the day's special of crispy fried tortellini filled with something mild, cheesy and herbacous but indistinguishable. We were very glad that our nice waitress had pushed us to order them.
Ceviche next, which I unfortunately couldn't eat :( but my companions loved.
My favourite of the lot was this incredibly naughty bone marrow with bagna cauda (a sinful Italian sauce of butter, cream, anchovies and all sorts of nice things) - it was so unbelievably rich and went brilliantly with the gelatinous texture of the marrow. Spread on charred bread, I could probably eat this all day and damn the consequences.
This take on a Caesar salad was tremendous too; fresh young greens with the traditional dressing and added pine nuts for crunch.
The other salad of cauliflower, almond, romesco dressing and squash lacked a bit of punch for me, but I'd be perfectly happy to have been served it as a side rather than a standalone dish in its own right. My friend felt differently and enjoyed the lightness, but for me a romesco should have a giant whack of Spanish flavour and this just didn't. A good looking plate though:
These boquerones did have the big whack of Spain I was looking for, which was pleasing. And things improved further with the aggretti, which I'm pretty into at the moment:
If that portion looks a tad on the petite side for you, then I suggest you plump for the chorizo, squid and chickpea stew which is doled out generously with even more of that yum bread. Oh and that aioli...
Pudding-wise, we shared a warm caramel banana pudding with coconut ice cream - YES. You can't go wrong with a self-saucing dessert.
Things are pretty hazy by now, but this passionfruit cheesecake and raspberry sorbet (?) got a rapturous reception too.
And then we were done. £168 lighter of which a fair wodge was red wine and cava. Go.