Nest, Hackney, restaurant review

If you’re looking for one of the best-value and most considered tasting menus in London – by some serious up-and-coming talent – look no further than Nest, in Hackney.

Johnnie Crowe, head chef at Nest
Johnnie Crowe, head chef at Nest

Set up by long-term friends Luke Wasserman, Toby Neill and Johnnie Crowe, Nest found its permanent home in a corner of a former pub in November, after a year of pop-ups. With a handful of thick-topped wooden tables, modestly decorated with tea lights, linen napkins and antique cutlery, Nest’s two set menus (one’s completely veggie) are scrawled on hanging blackboards, £32 for six courses, plus homemade soda bread and hand-churned butter. Impressive, right? What might surprise you further, though, is the commitment to sustainability these young entrepreneurs have taken.

From left to right; Toby Neill, Johnnie Crowe and Luke Wasserman all standing together in front of a white wall.
Toby Neill, Johnnie Crowe and Luke Wasserman

Head chef Johnnie, who ran a small catering company before running a pub kitchen and stints at The Harwood Arms and Anglo, focusses on only one meat product in the kitchen at a time, while restaurant manager Luke and business manager Toby nail the front of house, serving low-intervention wines, cracking English negronis made with Surrey gin, Hackney amaro and Highgate vermouth, and wild yeast-fermented ciders.

On our visit, sika deer, reared by Julian Stoyle of Red Oak Deer Park, is the order of the day. It first comes in a delicately layered potato cake, super crisp, super soft (the texture of Potato Smiles, if you know – you know), well seasoned, with smoked shoulder, and addictively good anchovy mayo. Later it reappears as venison wellington, ruddy, buttery, wrapped in a delicious duvet of pear, duxelle, savoy cabbage and crisp golden pastry, with pear, perry and parsnip purées on the side, and two rissoles impaled with liquorice root, drizzled with piquant Oxford sauce. Every plate, be it meat, fish or veggie, punches, and the coins of soft, forest-scented juniper toffee served in a nest round the meal off perfectly.

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Rustic looking brown and round Nest sign hanging above the door outside the restaurant

Nest, Hackney, dinner party menu

Asparagus, goat’s cheese and lovage

Check out this vibrant asparagus starter dish with creamy goat's cheese and fresh lovage, a perfect recipe to serve friends at your next dinner party. Discover more of our best asparagus recipes here...

Asparagus and Goat's Cheese Recipe served on a round white plate on a dark brown wooden table

Mackerel, celeriac and lemon

Looking for an impressive starer recipe? Try this simple mackerel dish with warm lemony celeriac. We've got even more starter recipes here, too...

Mackerel Recipe with Celeriac and Lemon served on a off-white round plate on a dark brown wooden table

Pork jowl, burnt orange and fennel salad

Show-off to your friends and family at your next dinner party with this soft and tender pork with crunchy fennel salad. Discover more of our dinner party main dishes right here.

Pork Jowl Recipe with a Fennel Salad served on a round off-white plate on a dark wooden table

Juniper toffees

Check out these indulgent juniper toffees. These sweet treats are served as petits fours at the end of the meal and can be infused with a variety of flavours – here they've chosen subtle spices of juniper, clove and cardamom. Want more toffee and caramel flavoured bakes? Try one of these easy recipes...

Homemade toffee Recipe with Juniper Berries. Two toffees served on a mini off-white plate in a nest made-up of woody sticks and lavender, sitting on a persons hand

Review by Laura Rowe

Recipes by Johnnie Crowe, Nest


Photographs by David Cotsworth

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