Review: BA.RN at The Institute of Light

By Ryan of Borough 22

I’m starting to develop a real love for East London.

It’s great how one part rolls into the other with a strong sense of history, trend and the ‘now’ woven through its fabric.

No one is scared to try and anything is possible.

Why not turn railway arches into some of the hottest culinary spots in London?

Why not roast some of London’s best coffee here at Climpson + Sons?

Need your car fixed while you’re at it? They can do that too.

So what the heck, why not combine a Brazilian BBQ, an inner city farm produce store, a bar, restaurant, cinema and terrace into one unit?

This is exactly what The Institute of Light (IOL) has done, successfully I might add. This was attested to by the healthy gathering despite the fact it was raining cats and dogs outside on our visit.

The in-house restaurant is BA.RN and is the passionate creation of Brazilian chef Leon Borja. He is the creator of the cult that is Harley Dogs – hand-made foot long hot dogs grilled to perfection on a custom Harley Davidson BBQ. He now has the perfect vehicle to bring his passion for the dishes he creates and the cheeses he produces on a larger scale. The experience starts as soon as you enter the gates with a good amount of outdoor seating, a terrace bar and smoke billowing from a smoker grill.

There is lots of amazing looking produce on display in the farm shop section (and they are heavily used in the menu), which you can see as you approach the massive glass door to the main restaurant, bar and cinema. Yes. Cinema.

The décor is minimalistic, not as low key as a pop-up but definitely not swanky. It’s extremely comfortable, almost familiar and very inviting with a bar acting as the centerpiece with an impressive array of whiskeys, gins and mixers on display as well as draft beer on tap and bottle. A wall of classic vinyl records and a great soundtrack make for a fantastic vibe. The kitchen is visible to all who wish to watch the mastermind behind BA.RN in action – Chef Leon Borja.

We were thoroughly spoiled with mutton ribs in a heavenly BBQ glaze, cheeseburger sliders with the thinnest tiniest fries I’ve ever seen and a mutton rib that was cooked to perfection. Chef Leon is not shy about his food and wants everyone to get involved – he threw black latex gloves on our table gauntlet style in a bid to lure us away from our knives and forks. He really lives and breathes his food and this comes across in his smokin’ creations!

Despite the BBQ theme it wasn’t a meat fest and with plenty of fresh veggies available, vegans and vegetarians can be accommodated easily and no one will be able to resist the fantastic cocktails on offer. Highly recommended is Paper Planes - Amaro Montenegro, Aperol, bourbon, citrus – and Rum Swizzle - dark rum, velvet falernum, citrus, sugar, bitters. Prices are reasonable and the quality exceptional - BA.RN is a fantastic one-stop-shop destination for a great night out. Highly recommended.

BA.RN at IOL is located in Arch 376, 10 Helmsley Place, London Fields, E8 3SB and is open seven days a week.

the-institute-of-light.com/restaurant

We were invited to dine at BA.RN as guests of the Chef.