British, Modern Restaurants in Hackney
1. Bright British, Modern restaurant in Hackney Netil House, 1 Westgate Street - E8
“Beautiful food, with elegance and full, intense flavours” from a menu of “simple, high-quality dishes”, backed up by a list of “natural wines from top importers” – all served in a “laid back”, semi-industrial space (formerly Ellory, RIP) – wins adulation for this yearling in London Fields, from the team behind fooderati fave-rave P Franco.
2. Madame Pigg British, Modern restaurant in Hackney 480 Kingsland Road - E8
In oh-so-now Haggerston, this neighbourhood newcomer – from chef Adam Hardiman (ex-St John and The Dartmouth Arms) – opened in November 2018, offering a seasonal, daily-changing menu. It is rated on the limited survey feedback received to date, but all of it is very upbeat, in keeping with newspaper reports and social media buzz about the place.
3. Two Lights British, Modern restaurant in Hackney 28-30 Kingsland Road - E2
If it wasn’t backed by the Clove Club, it’s hard to know how much buzz this rather functional, Shoreditch-vibe newcomer (on the busy Kingsland Road) would otherwise have generated. The website describes the cooking as ‘modern American’, in line with the starry NYC-focused CV of chef Chase Lovecky, but if the words ‘modern European’ were substituted, probably no-one would ever notice the difference. Terminology aside: feedback on the deliciousness of the resulting small plates themselves – while surprisingly limited – has all been upbeat, but, to be harsh, only middling judged by the red-hot standards for this kind of dining in the area generally.
4. The Empress British, Modern restaurant in Hackney 130 Lauriston Rd - E9
Well-known pub close to Victoria Park, whose gentrification predates much of up-and-coming East London. “It’s what a neighbourhood joint should be about”, with changing menus providing sufficient interest and variety to keep regulars returning time and again.
5. Pidgin British, Modern restaurant in Hackney 52 Wilton Way - E8
“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…”
6. Mare Street Market British, Modern restaurant in Hackney 117 Mare Street - E8
“A wonderful addition to the area” – a 10,000 square feet market inside the transformed base of a formerly run-down, Hackney office-block, which is the brainchild of Marc Francis-Baum (owner of a string of bars and pubs). With its flowers, vintage design-pieces, artisan coffee, bar, open kitchen and ‘dining room’ he’s channeled hipster design pheromones to maximum zeitgeisty effect. It’s not a majorly foodie hotspot, but “the atmosphere’s buzzing, and the drinks are always flowing. Love it!”
7. P Franco British, Modern restaurant in Hackney 107 Lower Clapton Road - E5
No Eater newsletter is complete without paradisical claims for this – still the online fooderati’s favourite bottle shop – in gentrifying Clapton: a “funky” and “buzzy”, if “very crowded” little space where “sensational wines” (of the ‘natural’ variety) are accompanied by “amazing” and “eclectic” small plates from an ever-changing roster of chefs: all eaten at a communal central table.
8. The Duke of Richmond Public House & Dining Room British, Modern restaurant in Hackney 316 Queensbridge Road - E8
“A beautiful old boozer on the Dalston/Haggerston border”, restored and revamped in mid-2018 as a “cracking local gastropub”, with chef Tom Oldroyd (formerly of the Polpo group; see also Oldroyd N1). He has put a traditional French twist on its gastropub fare, helping to win an enthusiastic fanclub, with cod’s roe starter, “fab burger” and “top Sunday lunch” singled out for particular praise. “If the place looks familiar, it was previously a seafood restaurant (The Richmond) and before that a cheap ‘n’ cheerful bistro with weird classical artefacts (LMNT)... and long before that a dodgy boozer”.
9. EartH Kitchen British, Modern restaurant in Hackney 11-17 Stoke Newington Road - N16
“Try and snag a corner banquette for great E8 people-watching” if you visit this quirky venue – the dining room of a Dalston (technically speaking Shacklewell) events venue where ex-St John chef Chris Gillard delivers some excellent, gutsy dishes. On nights when the venue has a noisy gig though, it can fall down as a foodie experience: “they need to decide if they’re a bar and disco, or a restaurant, because diners don’t want both at once: the waiters were sidetracked mixing cocktails and the DJ an irritant”.
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