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Test Driving Strut and Cluck - turkey, turkey and more turkey in Shoreditch

Cauliflower and Turkey in lettuce CupsLettuce cups filled with spiced turkey and topped with crunchy roasted almonds and piquant pomegranate seeds

So what can you tell us about Strut and Cluck?

It's a pop-up turned permanent restaurant created by husband and wife duo Amir and Limor Chen. Think Eastern-Mediterranean food with a twist - the only meat on the menu is turkey, served every which way from shawarma to schnitzel. There are traditional favourites like kofta and labneh mixed with surprising twists like sticky turkey wings. 

Where can we meet for a drink beforehand? 

Given the restaurant's location in Shoreditch, you're spoilt for choice when it comes to nearby bars. However, Strut and Cluck have their own bar at the front of the restaurant which is perfect for tasting their Middle-Eastern inspired cocktails. We loved Jaffa I've Mist You (£8.50), a chocolate orange inspired rum concoction, complete with a slick of melted chocolate around the rim of the glass. It's not as sweet as it sounds and it makes a change from the usual rum and coke options. 

Schnitzel 2Turkey Schnitzel

What's the vibe inside?

Amir and Limor talk to customers like they're old friends, and the restaurant echos this congeniality. Tables are close together and topped with low-key fresh flowers. Low, warm lightbulbs hang from the ceiling and old cassette players cover the walls on the way to the loos. It won't be hard to wile away the hours in this cosy atmosphere. 

What should we order?

In-keeping with the friendly feel of the place, the dishes lend themselves to being shared. For starters we went for the charred cauliflower with lemon zest-infused creme fraiche (from £5.50) and the Far East-Middle East (£7.75), lettuce cups filled to the brim with spiced turkey and topped with crunchy roasted almonds and piquant pomegranate seeds. Both are bound to be the darlings of the instagram set, with their vibrant colours and slightly out-there food combinations. Luckily the flavours live up to the aesthetics - the fresh lemon perfectly balanced out the more complex taste of the smoky cauliflower. 

ShwarmaTurkey shwarma

For main we tried turkey three ways - the hand-pulled shawarma on a bed of freekeh (£9.50), the buttermilk and crushed matzoh schnitzel (£12) and harissa-smothered sticky wings (£9.75). The comically large turkey wings were a nice nod to the Korean chicken wings which seem to be on everyone's menus these days, showing the versatility of turkey meat. Despite its reputation for being lean, the turkey skin was able to hold its fat which lent to the flavour, although it could have benefitted from being a touch more crispy.

The schnitzel was a masterpiece in perfect seasoning, with pepper and parsley flavours clearly coming through. Each dish was wonderful but the shawarma was the real stand-out of the night. The meat was reminiscent of crispy duck but much less heavy. There was a perfect mix of crunchy and chewy meat, brought together with creamy labneh and fresh cucumber. The freekeh was a good alternative to pitta which is usually served with these sorts of dishes. It was much less filling and held the flavours of the meat well. 

Sticky WIngsSticky turkey wings

Given the wonderful variety of flavours and textures, it was hard to believe that all the meat was in fact turkey - we'll never look at a Christmas dinner in the same way!

For pudding we had traditional Palestinian milk pudding topped with crunchy pistachios (£5) and a scoop of the pistachio and orange blossom ice cream (£1.85). The ice cream was particularly notable for its strong, smooth flavours. The entire ice cream menu is rather inventive and no matter how full you are you won't be able to resist trying at least one of the options on offer. 

Milk puddingPalestinian milk pudding topped with crunchy pistachios

What did you wash it down with?

The drinks menu is fairly simple but well chosen, with a few nods to the heritage of the restaurant, such as the Maccabi beer from Tel-Aviv. The wine list offered up a delicious Sauvingnon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon. The Cabernet was particularly good, with a smooth start and a strong, oaky finish. The cocktail menu should be sampled for its whimsical nod to Israel, including An Affair with Sharon

Overall thoughts...

As soon as you visit Strut & Cluck you'll immediately be planning to return with friends in tow. Although its one-meat-menu had the potential to be faddy, this is no flash in the pan. Rather, it's an inventive showcase of the potential of a much-underused meat. The strong menu and convivial atmosphere will keep you here for hours, picking over delicious morsels and sharing stories long into the night.

Strut and Cluck is at 151-153 Commercial Street, London E1 6BJ. Find out more about Strut and Cluck

 
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