Looking for restaurants in Dalston? Read our review of EartH Kitchen, and check out more suggestions for eating in Hackney here.
EartH Kitchen in a nutshell
Seasonal small plates, by kitchen pedigree, in a multi-purpose London arts space.
Chris Gillard, who is best known for heading up the St John restaurant group as executive chef.
What’s the vibe?
It might feel as if you’re en route to a trendy Hackney gig, as you climb the stairs to EartH (or Evolutionary Arts Hackney to those cool cats in the know). And if you carry on, you will – there’s comedy shows, music, club nights, theatrical performances, flea markets and more. But take the first door into the former foyer of this hidden art deco cinema and you’ll come across the newly opened EartH Kitchen.
There’s painted chipboard on the floor, Crittall windows, millennial pink walls, framed with a midnight blue stripe (and ceiling), velvet cushions galore on the cosy banquette seating that wraps the room, and gig posters adding pops of colour. This is no-frills cool.
What’s the food like?
There’s a decent list of small plates and larger main courses to choose from, depending if you’re hitting and running before a show or settling in for the night. (There’s entertainment on this floor, too – from Thursday jazz nights to chilled Sunday DJ sets.) The plates are easy eating, focussing on a few good, seasonal ingredients jazzed up with a bit of kitchen magic. Wood pigeon, for example, is well cooked and rested – resulting in a buttery cut through – and its subtle gamey flavour is mediated by creamy hummus, briney hunks of olive, crisp bitter leaves and by the sharp pop of pomegranate seeds.
There’s veg (wild garlic soup), and fish (smoked mackerel with beets, watercress and horseradish), pork chops and confit duck, but the offal’s where it’s at. This is St John alumni, after all. We try honeycomb tripe, with its farmyard funk, pickled, with earthy, sweet and sour turnips and swede. It’s surprisingly addictive. Ox heart, too, comes griddled, with a whisper of jerk spices, super-soft aubergine and fresh mint.
And the drinks?
Aperitif offerings are strictly of the en-vogue bitter variety at EartH – Aperol, Campari, Kamm & Sons – or there’s a large offering of colourful, seasonal cocktails to get things started, including a gin-spiked Candy Crush with blood orange juice, mint and ginger on our late-winter visit. The classics are perfectly fine – a negroni does its job – and wine has a European focus.
If you are tying a trip in with a show upstairs, be sure to check the call time before you sit down to eat, as the staff weren’t briefed on our visit (although took our feedback on this graciously). And don’t leave without dessert – a combo of chocolate banana bread, with crisp rashers of bacon and maple cream won the day for us.
EartH Kitchen, 11-17 Stoke Newington Road, London N16 8BH
Words by Laura Rowe
Photographs by David Cotsworth