Harden's survey result
“I don’t know how they do it, but every week there is a new, exciting and delicious menu that never seems to be repeated” at this genius foodie-mecca in Hackney, which has rightly won renown on account of its “uniquely delicious, complex-without-being-baroque” cuisine. “It has a Michelin star and, after a few mouthfuls, it’s clear to see why: the food is always innovative, mixing bold ranges of flavour and ingredients, focused on seasonal produce, all served up with a ‘too-cool-for-skool’ vibe”, by staff who “move around the incredibly-tightly-packed dining room with a balletic poise”. “The wine list is short but excellently curated”, but the major win is the value: “in Mayfair it would cost double”. On the downside, one or two regulars feel that the food has been “more hit-and-miss” in recent times, and the self-consciousness of the enterprise is a big turn-off for some folks: “a mixture of over-earnest staff intoning the menu without smiles, and sombre presentation of food as something sacred left us underwhelmed, on both visits”. “I think I prefer food to be more unobtrusive, so you can spend the evening enjoying it alongside friends and conversation, rather than having each dish explained and having to come up with the requisite ‘ooh, that sounds lovely, thank you’ with every course…”
“Breathtakingly inventive and excellently executed” cooking (“best described as modern British with a substantial Asian influence”) has won renown out of all proportion to the “extremely small” size of this Hackney two-year-old, which has a better claim to culinary fame than most East End ventures. “How they keep up such high standards with a weekly changing tasting menu is astonishing” (“although we have eaten there more than six times in the last couple of years, I cannot think of any single dish that has ever been repeated”). “And it still feels like a cosy neighbourhood restaurant”, although on the downside “tables are very small and crammed too close together”.
“What a fascinating dining experience – if it wasn’t so hyped, I would probably have enjoyed it even more!” This “tiny” Hackney yearling has instantly won gigantic acclaim for “heavenly, delicate and inventive” cuisine, bringing a “substantial Asian influence onto modern British ideas”. “Space is very tight” and though “you get to know your fellow diners intimately” the end result seems “so special, cosy and romantic” to most reporters – “it’s like eating in your friend’s front room, it just turns out your friend is a top chef!”. Founding chef Elizabeth Allen moved on in February 2017 to open Shibui (see also), but early reports say “nothing has been lost from the cooking here during the change”. See also Magpie.
“A great little addition to the London dining scene” – this “small, cramped-but-magical” room with about 26 covers behind a “tiny Hackney shopfront” offers “an ever-changing, weekly set menu”. “The absence of choice is abated by the spectacularly good cooking” from chef Elizabeth Allen – “truly innovative” (“we were reaching for Wikipedia to understand the ingredients”) but “well thought-out”, “surprising and delightful”.
|Wine per bottle||£33.00|
52 Wilton Way, London, E8 1BG
|Wednesday||6 pm‑11 pm|
|Thursday||6 pm‑11 pm|
|Friday||1 pm‑2:30 pm, 6 pm‑11 pm|
|Saturday||1 pm‑2:30 pm, 6 pm‑11 pm|
|Sunday||1 pm‑2:30 pm, 6 pm‑11 pm|