This hip industrial-looking restaurant offers stone-baked pizzas with a twist.
Situated in a huge converted fire station in the heart of Shoreditch – and not too far from Old Street Station – this restaurant has a great location. With exposed brickwork and tiles, spacious high ceilings and random artwork on the walls, it has a typically East London vibe. The kitchen is at the back of the restaurant and food is served directly out of a hatch. Tables are nicely spaced apart and there's a bar downstairs that you can dine in during the week, or dance in when it comes to the weekend. There's even some outdoor seating for the hotter months, too.
The Yard is an interesting place. For its size, you'd expect it to be really popular, but it tends to be more of a lunching venue during the week. From Monday to Friday, staff are rushed off their feet to get round to everyone from suited City workers to trendy media types who work nearby and are on time-constrained lunches. Come Saturday and Sunday, the place is a lot more chilled out and, at times, you can find yourself as the only person sitting in the restaurant. Staff are friendly and laid-back; they have a very East London approach to their service, so don't expect everything to always be done in a hurry. Downstairs can get relatively busy on Thursday, Friday and sometimes Saturday nights, and is generally full of local workers. The music can vary depending on the DJ, but it's generally house and pop.
The restaurants specialities are its unique pizzas, which are served by the yard (hence the name of the place) and come with four toppings on each. You choose the length of your pizza – a quarter for one person, a half for two or a full yard for four (and be warned, this can take up a lot of the table). The selection on the menu includes favourites such as a margherita, Hawaiian and quattro formaggi, as well as more interesting combinations such as the crispy duck, which comes with hoi sin sauce instead of tomato, cucumber pieces, spring onions and mozzarella. All pizzas are presented beautifully on a wooden board.
The Fiorentina pizza (£7.95) is a really good pick. The pizza dough is soft and easy to slice into, yet gently browned on the underside, while the tomato sauce is fresh tasting and generously smoothed over the base. The free-range egg in the middle is perfectly cooked so it runs over the fresh spinach leaves and plentiful buffalo mozzarella, and the olives are delicious and well, spread out over the pizza.
Pasta is also served and this includes Italian favourites such as spaghetti Bolognese, carbonara and pesto, as well as more adventurous dishes such as spaghetti cajun chicken, which comes with shrimps, mixed peppers and coriander, or the penne gorgonzola and spinach, which is served with caramelised red onion, cream and toasted pine nuts. They’re all priced under a tenner a dish.
There is also a good selection of starters and side dishes on offer, including stone-baked pizza breads and anti-pasti boards, as well as olives, bruschetta, coleslaw and potato salad. The salads are a great option to share alongside the pizza, and aren't boring at all. The baked goat's cheese salad (£7.75) comes with two pieces of caramelised onion crostini, which is rich and sweet-tasting and definitely more than bite-sized, as well as a generous heap of refreshing mixed leaves, juicy cherry tomatoes, crunchy cucumber pieces and a zesty, yet very subtle honey mustard dressing.
If you can fit in dessert, the restaurant offers a menu of traditional Italian dishes, such as tiramisu, alongside other old favourites like Dutch apple pie, warm chocolate brownie and banoffee pie.
There's a reasonable wine menu with seven whites, seven reds, plus two roses, Champagne and sparkling wine. In keeping with the general cost of Shoreditch drinks, you're looking at spending around a fiver for a glass of house wine or £14 a bottle. Beers come in interesting sizes and include Kirin Ichiban Lager, which comes in one or two-pint pitchers, as well as Nastro Azzuro, Corona and Magners, all priced around £4 for a bottle or pint. There's also a lot of spirits on offer, which are priced around £2.50 for a shot.
The Last Word
With delicious pizzas served in a unique way and a spacious relaxed dining area, it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re peckish and in the area.