The Handbook
The Handbook

Jonathan Downey’s East Room may have been reduced to ashes a couple of months back but it was always going to take more than a few flames to reduce that inimitable New York spirit to dust – although admittedly the spirits probably did add a bit of fuel to the fire.

However, following a bit of juggling it’s been reborn as Giant Robot – a new Italian American incarnation on the site of the group’s former Match EC1 on Clerkenwell Road.

Comprising a ground floor bar – all bare brick walls straight out of the East Village and then further tables on a little mezzanine level. The vibe is cosy and kitch rather than industrial with retro accessories and crazy chandeliers and light fittings.

Open from 10am for brunch, lunch, dinner and drinks until the fat Italian mama sings at 2am on the weekend, the Hoxton plimsole wearing brigade is fast developing a liking for its trademark balls, sliders and Romagna piadine.

Balls come in beef, pork or a changing weekly special and are ordered by the £1.35 piece so you can choose how many you’re going to pot before adding a choice of sauce from plain tomato to spicy or even parmesan cream. Add a bun and you’ve got yourself a slider or spaghetti and mini versions for mama robot’s meatballs.

There’s also Salumi from finocchiona to prosciutto di San Daniele served with pecorino & balsamic or apple & grated walnut and Crostini and Cicchietti too. Mindful that East London would be unlikely to tolerate inflated Soho prices for what is essentially a canapé, the Marinated zucchini –arugula & pecorino; Marinated eggplant – goat’s cheese & anchovy and Bocconcini with sweet & sour peppers come in from 82 to 99 pence (eat your heart out McDonalds’ saver menu) or you can splash out on the tuna version with fennel & coriander; Gremolata or the ubiquitious Meat Ball option with tomato, olive oil and mash – still sub £2.50.

Larger dishes include the aptly named Giant sausage – cotechino with lentils & pancetta or Giant prawns with garlic, chilli & oregano and desserts see Baked Alaska for two flamed right there at your table!

All the wine is Italian and cocktails get their fizz from prosecco – classic Bellinis with white peach, strawberry or raspberry to Nicola Six with vodka, summer fruits, berry cordial and rosé prosecco. Bellinis also come DIY with fruit and your own bottle on ice and punch bowls are much in evidence as well.

However, although the Giant Robot crew are thoroughly accommodating, there are limits – clearly evinced by the menu’s caveat “You’re not in LA so no substitutions please!”