Good things, they say, come in threes. We’re not sure who they are, and they have clearly never sneezed three times whilst carrying three pints walking down three rickety steps, but we do know what they mean after sipping a martini, destroying a sando, and having dinner at the counter in Tayer + Elementary.
Tayer + Elementary is a slightly confusing three-part bar in Old Street with three straightforward uses. The first is for a weekday drink and bite to eat. The front bar is walk-in only and the look is part izakaya and part Apollo 11 with added negroni tap. It’s a place where you’ll sit with a bowl of lardo covered fried rice in the day, but lean against the counter in the evening. Not because it’s comfier, but because angling yourself with a cocktail and a £15 sandwich whilst French hip-hop plays requires a very specific lean. That’s what your internal monologue will tell you anyway.
The second use is purely food-related, be it at a bar or kitchen counter. The menu here, cooked by TATA Eatery, is very good. The kind of good that quietly asks you how you are, rather than shouting hello, slapping your shoulder, and leaving spittle in your ear. The famous Iberian pork sando is, in theory, three things put together: bread, meat, and bread. But it tastes like so much more, and is definitely worth the money. The same goes for that slow-burning, quickly-eaten bowl of rice, but not the quesadilla. Swerve that.
These bar snacks are nothing on the food being served at Tayer’s four person kitchen counter though. It’s £60 a head for five courses and you’ll more than likely end up licking every bit of artisanal crockery clean, consider nicking some, before guiltily locking eyes with a chef opposite. The menu changes weekly but every dish has layers of enjoyment and surprise. From a mutton tartare with hidden pickles and ferments, to an almond lobster bisque that gets better and better, to an eggless ice cream that would make any adult cry if it dropped to the floor.
The third thing that makes Tayer a travel-worthy destination is again, the bar. Only it’s the back one this time. This moodily lit den features different and more expensive cocktails to the front. For what reason, we do not know. What we can say is that it makes for an excellent date spot. Especially for someone who’s impressed by lethally mixed and lethally priced cocktails. At £15 a pop, two is probably the maximum you want or need. Combined with a sando of course. That’s a perfect trio.
The five dishes at Tayer’s kitchen counter change on a weekly basis depending on what produce they have in. It doesn’t cater to dietary requirements so bring a human-dustbin type friend. One who eats meat, fish, dairy - the lot. Or just take yourself. You should expect lots of (happy) surprises in everything. Like little bits of fermented garlic to give your rich mutton tartare some tanginess, or chunks of pickled cucumber in a chuggable almond milk lobster bisque. They also tend to make some things look quite standard and straightforward when they’re far from it. Similar to watching an IKEA assembling video on YouTube. That’s what you’ll think after eating the fresh milk, eggless, ice cream. It just looks like a standard scoop with some berry compote beside it. But it’s got butterscotch running through it, bits of chunky rice, and is creamier than a middle-aged bloke’s Spotify playlist. It may just be the best ice cream in London.
London’s most precise formation of meat and bread. Flawless measurements aside, this crispy Iberian pork is seriously good. As is the raspberry and XO sauce that’s smeared on each slice. Yes it’s a lot of money at nearly £15, and yes you should eat it.
The seaweed flatbread? Really? Unless you don’t eat meat that’s probably what’s going through your head. It shouldn’t though. This is a perfectly light and tangy snack. Perfect drinking food.
A bowl of fried rice is always an objectively good thing. But a bowl of fried rice with thin slices of melting lardo on top and a pile of pickled ginger? That’s an even better thing.
The only dud of the bar menu, this quesadilla is, simply put, just a bit much. It’s crisp but oily and packed with ox cheek which sounds great on paper, but isn’t something you want more than a quarter of in reality.