Looking for Hackney restaurants? Here are our favourite restaurants in London’s North Eastern borough. The best foodie spots include tasting menu at Nest, unusual wines at Sager + Wilde and Cretan food at Morito. Check out our ideas for eating and drinking in Hackney, from Hackney Road to Homerton and London Fields…
Best restaurants in Hackney
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.
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.
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.
Cornerstone – named after chef/owner Tom Brown’s favourite Arctic Monkeys track – opened in April in trendy Hackney Wick, in east London. Just minutes from the Overground, the restaurant is the first from Cornish Tom, who has worked for Rick Stein and most notably Nathan Outlaw (check out Nathan’s guide to cooking fish here). After making a name for himself in his home county, he worked as head chef of Outlaw’s eponymous restaurant at The Capital Hotel in Knightsbridge, which was awarded a Michelin star after only one year of opening.
Aside from its similar penchant for fresh fish, though, Cornerstone is a far cry from Tom’s previous. Here a menu of plates designed for sharing are affordably priced between £5-15 (£45 for the chef’s choice of eight). You can eat at the bar, which wraps itself around the open kitchen in the middle of the restaurant, sat across from the chefs or at one of the minimalist tables. And there’s a short, international and mostly low-intervention wine list, with lots available by the glass, some stellar home-infused cocktails, and a bespoke Cornish house gin, too.
In a nutshell: A newly refurbished Hackney pub with a whiff of French thanks to the winning Oldroyd touch.
What’s the vibe? A thoughtful restoration, including cool painted floorboards, calming accents of olive and cream on the walls, blue leather banquettes, and varnished wooden tables, make for a modern pub setting. Relaxed, a little bit rowdy (as all good pubs should be) and suitably stylish for its Hackney locals.
What’s the food like? The menu might be continental in its leaning but all of the dishes feel at home in their British pub setting – think seasonal giant vol au vents, rib cap burgers with confit shallots, roquefort, bearnaise sauce and fries, and tart au citron. Super-light Cornish crab soufflé in the dining room hooked us in from the start, cooled down by a rusty chilled crab bisque, and a nutty comté brioche bun.
Sea trout in another bowl, sat in the buttery sauce it was poached in, flecked with wild fennel, would have been enough – but flashed-in-the-pan, super-soft Poole Bay clams, and succulent and salty samphire had us mopping up every last drop with the chewy, tangy sourdough and (we’re not ashamed) even more salted butter.
olive tip: Don’t have time for a full dinner? Grab a bar snack, which are rather superior, too – from crispy pig ears, and rotisserie chicken baguettes filled with soubise onions and tarragon aïoli, to Cornish crab chip butties and whole baked Tunworth cheese with cornichons.
Dalston’s Little Duck The Picklery is no ordinary restaurant. Describing itself as a “fermenting kitchen, eatery and wine bar”, this third venue from the same team behind Soho’s Duck Soup and Hackney’s Raw Duck centres round one large, family-style kitchen table from which head chef and proprietor Tom Hill preps and cooks a carefully curated selection of seasonal small plates, guests only an arm’s length away.
Drinks and dishes are scrawled on blackboards and change each week. For breakfast, expect the likes of beef and lamb sausages with garlic yogurt, flatbreads and pickled tomatoes, masala-spiced scrambled eggs, and shiitake mushroom oats.
For lunch and dinner, the Mediterranean-skewed plates linger around the £8 to £11 mark and pack serious flavour. Start with a gut-friendly daily pickle or ferment (like a kimchi or kraut, for as little as £2.50) then move on to the plates proper.
With polished concrete floors, a striking, horseshoe, marble-topped bar, pops of colour and Instagrammable mirrored fish-scale tiles, Morito feels very much at home in Hackney.
The open kitchen is headed by co-owner Samantha Clark and head chef Marianna Leivaditaki. Formerly at Moro, Marianna grew up in Crete and developed her feel for ingredients in her family’s fish restaurant. At Morito she makes exceptionally-sourced produce shine. Buffalo butter that smacks of the farm in Thessaloniki where it began life and the headiest za’atar from Istanbul make the breadbasket irresistible.
The menu is similar to that of the first Morito with tapas, mezze and larger plates at lunch and dinner, but with new dishes, too – made-to-order Moroccan breads for breakfast, homemade halloumi with pickled za’atar, and kid mechoui with goat’s curd, preserved lemon and harissa.
Pidgin is the permanent venture of James Ramsden and Sam Herlihy, the team behind supper club The Secret Larder.
The four course menu changes weekly, and uses seasonal, carefully-sourced produce. Potato sourdough and butter is followed by two small dishes – pork fat and peas, and octopus and apple with peppery nasturtiums and a creamy almond milk dressing.
Beef picanha (the most prized cut in Latin America) from grass-reared, dry-aged Yorkshire Longhorn cattle was beautifully soft, and accompanied by rich and earthy flavours of coal-roast beetroot, sweet carrots and an intense jus.
Pidgin G&Ts are made with homemade tonic and served with a large slice of pink grapefruit and a dash of black pepper for a punchy finish while The London Fields cocktail was like a vodka-spiked green juice.
The Dusty Knuckle, Dalston
The Dusty Knuckle is a social enterprise café and bakery with a conscience, according to co-founder Max Tobias. “The idea was that we would start a bakery that could provide employment experiences to young people at the margins of society.”
Max and chef Rebecca Oliver quit their jobs and launched The Dusty Knuckle from a shipping container in 2014. After three successful years it moved a few metres to a new permanent home opposite. It also runs regular bread-making classes and has ambitious plans to run a youth training academy in the future.
With a second site in Camden opening on the back of the success of its pop-ups and the Hackney mothership, Temple of Seitan is a restaurant and takeaway that’s widely regarded as the mother of all plant-based fast-food joints.
Since it launched three years ago, Temple of Seitan has gained a fanatical following for its delicious Temple Spicy Burger (crispy seitan fillet, cheese, coleslaw, jalapeños with hot sauce and chipotle mayo) and the proudly poultry-free version of KFC’s double-down fried chicken sandwich.
Broadway Market, Broadway Vegan Market and Netil Market
Three markets all located next to each other on the same day? Head east with empty stomachs to experience the best selection of street food Hackney has to offer.
Top street food stalls: Start in Netil Market, an array of shipping containers and custom built huts circle around a central market selling everything from antiques and artisan chocolate to soy candles.
Pick up Eritrean inspired tacos from LemLem Kitchen. Spongy sourdough flatbread discs known as injera are wrapped around spicy fish, pulled lamb or curried split peas before heading over to Broadway Vegan Market to pick up a katsu cauliflower sushi burrito from We Are Ima.
Finally wander round the corner for artisan eclairs by End of the Éclair.Crispy choux pastry filled with a range of flavours – salted caramel is our current favourite.
In a nutshell: Atmospheric forward-thinking neighbourhood wine bar specialising in unusual and diverse daily-changing wines by the glass and bottle.
What’s the vibe? At this casual but romantic neighbourhood wine bar, huddle up in around candlelit tables, or prop yourself up at the industrial iron grate bar and soak up knowledge from the chatty staff while getting a closer look at rare bottles displayed on the rack along the back wall.
What’s the drinks menu like? The small but thoughtful wine menu covers lesser-known regions and quirky categories such as crisp and refreshing whites from Austria and bold reds from Hungary, with a dedicated section to ‘skins’ wines (orange wines from Sicily, Alicante and beyond, find out more here). Other than wine, they offer on-trend white port and tonic or punchy, refreshing bergamot negronis, as well as a selection of craft beers
Is there any food? Sager + Wilde Hackney Road has just upped its food game. As well as continuing the unctuous cheese toasties (with Neil’s Yard Dairy cheese and Bread Station sourdough), a selection of seasonal small plates has been added to the menu.
If you love beer and you love pizza, Crate Brewery in Hackney Wick is the best place to visit. The stone-baked pizzas are topped with unusual ingredients including a veggie Kashmiri dal and a middle eastern lamb.
As you’d expect, beer is a real focus. Each week there’s a selection of guest bottles from a fruity brown ale to a dark Indian pale ale as well as regular casks and kegs of zingy lemon gose, velvety Crate stout and a crisp Crate cider.
New for 2018, GIANT STEPS is a food, drink and music residency in east London’s Hackney Wick. Set up by Brilliant Corners and Analogue Foundation, the al fresco waterside terrace will see Morito, Brawn and Brilliant Corners cooking BBQ feasts throughout the summer.
There’ll be a selection of natural wines and summery cocktails including white negronis and mezcal margaritas to sip on sunny days.
Launched by Matt Whiley (the man behind Bethnal Green’s Peg + Patriot), this contemporary space with lots of natural wood and rendered concrete walls is dedicated to cocktails made using only fresh produce from the British Isles.
Seasonality underpins the menu with a dedication to foraging and minimising waste, and so, depending on what’s available, you’ll find drinks such as strawberry (strawberry, lemon balm, vinegar), rhubarb (fermented rhubarb, custard, pine) and beetroot (beetroot, chocolate husk, rye) alongside five house ferments, five beers and a small selection of natural wines.
In the basement, you’ll find the Laboratory, a 10-seat private area featuring a menu of drinks that the team are developing in real time.