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If you’re in Hackney and not practicing your skateboard pivots or oiling your beard, the chances are you’ll probably be eating. Rapid rates of gentrification in London’s hippest borough has brought with it a heady hoard of bars, cafés, restaurants, pop-ups, Sunday suppers and a Japanese dinner in an jellied eel café. Yes, F. Cooke, we’re talking about you.
From Broadway Market’s meld of old and new and London Fields’ railway arch bakeries, to the Vietnamese joints of Mare Street and pocket-sized cafés of Columbia Road, Hackney is a bubble that can be pretty hard to escape. We’ve just moved to the area, so have thrown ourselves headfirst into its edible offerings. Though variety is apparently the spice of life, the volume of eating spots in Hackney can make it a rather intimidating place to navigate. For those of you who feel like lost puppies in a sea of natural wine and hand-carved spoons, here is our guide to the best places to eat, drink and be merry in this ludicrously tasty neighbourhood.
Words by Meg Abbott and photographs by Issy Croker, thecuriouspear.com
Like its sister branch Ducksoup, the menu at Rawduck is all about seasonal, simple food with an eclectic medley of flavours. Take their ‘dumpling Mondays’, where three chefs grill, steam and fry under the instruction of dumpling don Benny Zhou, or their monthly wine tastings that offer up a rainbow of quality quaff. Dinner here is delicious, but you’ll usually find us elbowing our way into a spot at the communal tables for weekend brunch. All the classics are on offer – smooth avocado with perfectly poached eggs and coriander, toast with lemon curd and homemade jam, and even crumpets with cheddar and pickles. Alongside these are harissa eggs with pitta, a cardamom-spiked daal with poached eggs and naan, curried potatoes with salt beef and a dreamy coconut milk porridge.
There is also a serious drinks list, including hot dark chocolate with burnt orange and cinnamon, rose petal kombucha and a stellar bloody Mary. And if you haven’t jumped on the drinking vinegar wagon yet, this is a good place to start – the icy apple vinegars annihilated our hangovers. For such a huge space, Rawduck’s designers have managed to create the cosiest of ‘vibes’ (when in Hackney) with clay ceiling pendants, a glowing open kitchen and a veritable jungle of plants.
- 020 8986 6534
- Go to Website
We know this technically isn’t Hackney, but it’s right on the edge and we simply have to include it.
It is a credit to Mission’s food that after a five-course dinner we left feeling lighter than air and ready for beers at Mother Kelly’s bottle shop next door. Nonchalantly located in the railway arches of Paradise Row, it seems Mission was made for dinnertime. Low lights, a tin roof and wood-panelled walls glow in the evening, when food lovers of the East unite to graze on modern American dishes like Jerusalem artichokes, winkles and caramelised yogurt, langoustines with millet porridge, pickled heirloom carrots, lamb with turnips and pumpkin ice cream with meringue and sweet chestnuts. And that was just this week.
The staff in here know their wine. But not in the intimidating way that forces you to mindlessly point at a mid-priced bottle as fast as possible to avoid having to try and pronounce it. Our waitress talked us zestily through the list, finally recommending a Gaillac Zacmau orange wine that will be in our fridge for the rest of time. Yes, orange wine has arrived. And it’s delicious. The bottle was swiftly decanted into a carafe to ‘air’. Luckily the music was loud enough for the waiter to miss me proudly announcing that I could taste the “whiskey contact”, when in fact he had just been telling us about the “skin contact” that makes orange wine so unique. Come here for dinner any night of the week; it is special without being stuffy and indulgent without being cloying. And the head chef knows exactly what to do with a winkle.
- 020 7613 0478
- Go to Website
Hill & Szrok
Broadway Market is nothing if not well-stocked. There are coffee shops, restaurants of every cuisine, a tea bar and a natural wine store. There is also a butcher, a baker and a shop selling overpriced candle sticks. Said butcher not only houses some seriously high-grade meats, but also turns into a 25-seater cookshop in the evening. If you haven’t had the pleasure of dining at a ‘cookshop’ before, it is what it says on the tin – a shop that whips up their wares for costumers to eat.
In Hill & Szrok that means hearty pork chops, thick slices of sirloin, roasted game with cranberries and pig’s head terrine. Visitors can select their cut of choice and watch it cook to perfection in front of them as they sip on one of the half a dozen wines on offer. This inviting shop, all white tiles and dark wood, is an ideal date spot. That’s if you don’t consider a roomful of dangling carcasses a mood killer.
- 020 7254 8805
- Go to Website
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