When Strut & Cluck first opened last summer it followed a wave of feather-filled publicity surrounding its focus on one key ingredient: turkey.
Perhaps the people of Shoreditch didn’t gobble the one-meat concept up as much as hoped, or maybe owners Amir and Limor Chen were just fearful of the post-Christmas drop-out rate.
Either way, they’ve reconfigured and relaunched with a more diverse offering and a brand that focuses on Amir’s bright and full-flavoured Middle Eastern cooking rather than on their poultry of choice.
There are still several turkey dishes on the menu, including a stand-out turkey shawarma of moist shredded meat, thick with sweet spice, piled on a soft pita with pickled veg, pine nuts and tahini.
The big bird shares space with juicy lamb koftas and crispy fried squid, but it’s the non-meat dishes which really stand-out. From marinated and grilled red peppers sprinkled with sprightly dukkah and drizzled with balsamic to quinoa fritters filled with oozing feta and mint, and a heavily-charred and spiced chunk of cauliflower, simple is done superbly.
A rich chocolate mousse topped with a halva ripple and salted sesame crackers is an indulgent end note.
The drinks list spikes interest too, with a short selection of predominantly rather sweet cocktails giving way to an international wine list with options from Israel and Jerusalem, plus beers from Beirut and Tel Aviv.
Shuttered windows, hanging baskets and mis-matched chairs lend an eclectic homeliness to the restaurant, and the family feel is only furthered by the warm welcome of the husband and wife team who run it.
Do not be fooled into thinking this is a one-item-wonder gimmick restaurant or some kind of novelty spot; this is a family-run Israeli restaurant at heart. So put your views on turkey to one side until December, and if you like Middle Eastern food then strut on down.
You can steer well clear of the controversial bird altogether if you want, but you never know, the shawarma might just twist your arm.
Strut & Cluck, Shoreditch: The lowdown
Final flavour: A homely Middle Eastern restaurant that’s no turkey
At what cost? Smaller plates from £3 to £7.50, larger plates from £8.50 to £14.50.
Find it: 151 Commercial Street, E1 6BJ; strutandcluck.com.