East London is well known for its food scene, with long-established hits jostling for space among innovative supper clubs and clever new openings. Below, we point you in the direction of our favourite tables to book in Shoreditch, Hackney and Clerkenwell.?
Hackney Coterie, Hackney
On a rainy night in East London, the honeyed glow of this unassuming space ¨C plonked quietly beside a Tesco and Hackney Downs station ¨C is an inviting prospect. Inside, the double-height red-brick walls are brightened by Picasso-esque abstracts and long Fanta-orange banquette seating. Even more appealing are the great-value set menus (five courses from ¡ê30; seven from ¡ê42.50), launched in early 2022 as a way of combatting waste and helping the restaurant deal with post-pandemic challenges such as staffing. It’s a clever ploy ¨C and, more importantly, a delicious one. Choose from veggie, pescaterian or meaty menus that might kick off with fried potato skins with an intense tomato powder to give a ketchup-y kick, or fish crackling with smoked tofu dip. The thousand-layer szechuan potatoes up next have lamination to make Paul Hollywood dole out a handshake, while burnt leeks are sweet and buttery with an umami-packed miso sauce. For main there’s charred cauliflower steak with a katsuobushi hit of flavour or perfectly pink duck breast with salted kohlrabi. On our visit dessert was the standout: fermented celeriac cake with an earthy powder whose aroma hits you as soon as the plate lands the table, topped with rich cream to tip the balance from savoury to pud. This place is big on reminding you that it’s not a ‘natural’ wine bar, a term sommelier Kelvin McCabe (ex Adam Handling) believes has lost its meaning and become clich¨¦d. The wines are organic and biodynamic where possible, but really it’s all about the producers. And the bottom line, McCabe says, is to ensure a sense of approachability and hospitality. Cheers to that.
Address: Hackney Coterie, 230B Dalston Lane, London E8 1LA Book online
The Basque-accented project from Tomas Parry, the chef behind Kitty Fisher’s, was a trailblazer when it landed on the scene in Shoreditch a few years ago. A Michelin star followed, as did pandemic-inspired stints at Climpson’s Arch in Hackney, where people could eat outside in line with ever-changing government guidelines. In 2021, Brat was the highest new entry on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants List. The menu leans heavily on Basque Country cooking, with many dishes made directly on the flames ¨C order the whole turbot (Brat is actually the old English name for Turbot) for the table, and tuck in.?
Address: Brat, 4 Redchurch St, London E1 6JL Book online
Cornerstone, Hackney Wick
Tom Brown cut his teeth working with Nathan Outlaw before setting up Cornerstone, Hackney’s best-loved fish restaurant. In a white-washed dining room, the ever-changing menu might include baked scallops with coral butter, crab rarebit crumpets with pickled walnut, cured gurnard or an oozy hake kiev. The menu isn¡¯t long, so you might as well order everything on it. Yes, you have to like fish to make it worth booking a table ¨C but if you do, don’t miss it.
Address: Cornerstone, 3 Prince Edward Rd, Hackney Wick, London E9 5LX Book online
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Maureen M. Evans
Caf¨¦ Cecelia, Hackney
A low-key hangout with exquisite seasonal sharing plates and an Irish twist ¨C this canalfront, relaxed hangout is from Max Rocha, whose culinary CV includes stints at the River Caf¨¦ and St John Bread and Wine. As with most London menus right now, the dishes and ingredients here follow the seasons, and Rocha draws on his early years growing up in Ireland. The dish not to miss is the butter-like onglet with citrusy peppercorn sauce and sizzling chips, which rivals that of some of the best bistros in Paris.
Address: Caf¨¦ Cecilia, 32 Andrews Road, London E8 4RL Book online
One-time food truck turned bricks-and-mortar restaurant with queues around the block ¨C so far, so Shoreditch. But this industrial spot has held its own as the neighbourhood evolves around it, and elevated brisket buns and charred pork belly are as covetable as ever. The vegetarian options are surprisingly on point for somewhere that leans so heavily on barbecue ¨C coal roasted aubergine is served with red miso, feta and toasted cashew, for example. The bar is worth a pitstop before or after supper, too.?
Address: Smokestak, 35 Sclater Street, Shoreditch, London E1 Book online
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Silo, Hackney Wick
Zero waste? Silo was leading the way when it came to eco-focussed eating long before the restaurant world caught on. Doug McMaster refined the idea in Brighton before moving it to London in 2019, moving to Hackney Wick just as the so-called green curve started its upward climb. Nothing is wasted ¨C ingredients are bought directly from producers and farmers, and every inch is used in some way. In his canal-side site, even the tables and chairs are upcycled and sustainable. Bread is made from flour milled in-house and appears in many reincarnations throughout ¨C in a miso sauce, perhaps. Cocktails use botanical spirits and beers are biodynamic. Basically, McMaster is on a mission to close the loop in the food production process and feed people delicious feasts in the process ¨C and he succeeds.
Address: Silo, The White Building, Unit 7 Queens Yard, Hackney Wick, London E9 5EN Book online
This is a wine bar for foodies from a top East London team. Wine bar P.Franco’s 2014 opening in Clapton ¨C in a one-time Chinese takeaway, no less ¨C followed its success at Bright in Broadway Market, before opening a third spot in Hackney Central. There’s a straightforward choice of dishes to share ¨C all firmly rooted in Japanese cooking. Keep things simple and order a set menu of seasonal dishes that might include pheasant dumplings or dry cured mackerel, accompanied by a punchy white Negroni.?
Address: Peg, 120 Morning Lane, London E9 6LH Book online
Smoking Goat, Shoreditch?
Authentic South-East Asian flavours in Shoreditch ¨C Smoking Goat does Thai food really, really well, bringing authentic flavours from northern Thailand to well-sourced ingredients. The mains are pretty super-sized ¨C Cornish mackerel, goat shoulder, drunken noodles. Go with a group, and share. Order a magnum or two of craft beer and a couple of the large sharing plates, and settle in.
Address: Smoking Goat, 64 Shoreditch High Street, London E1 6JJ Book online
Pophams, London Fields
Pophams is a favourite stop for pastry people in East London ¨C and in 2019, this masterful patisserie started serving an impressive evening pasta menu. The brainchild of baker Phil King ¨C who runs a pasta-based supper club in his home ¨C the menu is a modern spin on traditional techniques, and the various tortellini, cappellacci and gnocchi are lovingly hand-crafted. There are only 10 or so items on the menu and our advice is to order everything.
Address: Pophams Bakery, 197 Richmond Road, Hackney, London, E8 3NJ Book online
Fine dining in the best sense of the phrase ¨C Lyle’s has been nailing relaxed but elevated suppers for years. This is about as relaxed as a tasting menu gets in a smart Scandi set-up. There is a set menu but it doesn’t go on and on. It also changes daily and could include fish from Cornwall, game, mutton, or whatever is particularly good at that moment in time. An all-British list of beers includes East Sussex’s Burning Sky Saison ¨¤ la Provision and a cheery Herefordshire Perry cider. In fact, the only thing that isn’t British at Lyle’s is the coffee (roasting here is taken seriously) and the constantly changing wine list.
Address: Lyle’s, Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High Street, London E1 6JJ Book online
The Clove Club, Shoreditch
The 27th best restaurant in the world (according to 2021’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants list) has been making ripples in East London since it opened in 2013. It was a supper club first, then an open-kitchen dining room in Shoreditch town hall that remains one of London’s top tables to book. Treat yourself to the tasting menu (¡ê145 per person) for a special occasion, and rebook the lunch menu (¡ê65 per person) when you realise this place isn’t overhyped one bit.
Address: The Clove Club, Shoreditch Town Hall, 380 Old Street, London EC2 Book online