Photographer: Richard Vines

11 Great Restaurants in Hip East London

Hackney is becoming so hip, it's tempting to expect the restaurants to be style over substance, aimed at an Instagram generation whose highs and lows may not always be gastronomic.

That's just not true. The cooking and service at many spots rival those in the West End, which tend to be more expensive and formal. It's worth the trip to East London, one of the city's newer dining destinations.

Here are 11 great places to try.

Berber & Q

Berber & Q is housed in a railway arch.
Berber & Q is housed in a railway arch.
Photographer: Richard Vines/Bloomberg

This grill house in a railway arch in Haggerston serves dishes from across the Middle East and North Africa, including home-smoked meats finished on an open grill. There's a bar along one side of the room, offering craft beers as well as unusual cocktails. For somewhere so cool and moody, the service is friendly and efficient. Dish to try: The Full Israeli brunch at £25 ($35) for two.

Arch 338, Acton Mews, E8 4EA; +44-20-7923-0829

Chick 'n' Sours

Curry laksa peas, roasted cashews, pea shoots at Chick 'n' Sours.
Curry laksa peas, roasted cashews, pea shoots at Chick 'n' Sours.
Photographer: Richard Vines/Bloomberg

This colorful café in Haggerston is an unlikely place to find some of London's finest chicken. The birds are free-range herb-fed while the vegetables are from the Keveral Farm organic farming community. The chicken comes hot, sweet and sour in crunchy coatings, while the original cocktail list offers a range of sours. Dish to try: Guest Fry - drumstick & thigh, kung pao glaze, chilli, peanut, spring onion (£11).

390 Kingsland Rd., E8 2AA

The Good Egg

Shakshuka is served at Good Egg.
Shakshuka is served at Good Egg.
Photographer: Richard Vines/Bloomberg

This Stoke Newington neighborhood restaurant traces its tangled culinary roots to Tel Aviv, California and Montreal. It started life in food markets before making it indoors a few months ago. The Good Egg is particularly strong on brunch. Dish to try: Shakshuka - baked eggs in a spiced tomato and pepper sauce, with preserved lemon yoghurt & sumac and a challah roll (£10),

93 Stoke Newington Church St., N16 0As; +44-20-7682-2120

Lardo

Pizza is served at Lardo.
Pizza is served at Lardo.
Photographer: Richard Vines/Bloomberg

This casual Italian restaurant in a high-ceilinged room is one of my favorites in Hackney. The open kitchen is dominated by a pizza oven turning out creations such as radicchio, gorgonzola, walnuts (£12.50). The cured meats are also big on flavor, particularly the fennel pollen salami (£5.50). Dish to try: Nduja, rocket pesto, fior di latti pizza (£13.20) with layers of flavor from nutty through spicy to very hot.

197-201 Richmond Rd., E8 3NJ; +44-20-8985 2683

Lucky Chip

Royale Wit Cheese at Lucky Chip.
Royale Wit Cheese at Lucky Chip.
Photographer: Richard Vines/Bloomberg

The novelty of this burger restaurant, almost hidden behind the stalls of a street market, is the excellent wine list. But Lucky Chip can be judged on its burgers alone, and they are among the finest in London. Dish to try: The Royale Wit Cheese (£8.95) is world class if you pay an extra £3 to upgrade to 40-day dry-aged Galician beef, with its deep, smoky flavor.

25 Ridley Rd., E8 2NP

Mangal 1 Ocakbasi

Sish kebab is served at Mangal 1.
Sish kebab is served at Mangal 1.
Photographer: Richard Vines/Bloomberg

You might go a long way to taste better kebabs cooked over a charcoal grill and served with salad and warm bread than at this restaurant, which was established in 1990. A simple kebab shows the quality of the juicy lamb. Throw in a starter of lahmacun Turkish pizza (£2) and you are done. Dish to try: Sish kebab (£10.50).

10 Arcola St., E8 2DJ; +44-20-7275-8981

Primeur

Lamb leg and creamed spinach at Primeur.
Lamb leg and creamed spinach at Primeur.
Photographer: Richard Vines/Bloomberg

Primeur is favorite among the restaurants I visited in Hackney. It's an understated neighborhood hangout in a former garage, where you may find yourself sharing a table as you check the blackboard and choose from European dishes such as lamb leg and creamed spinach (£15.50). It's not especially cheap but the prices reflect the quality of the ingredients. Dish to try: Spelt, wild garlic and Parmesan (£9).

116 Petherton Rd., Highbury, N5 2RT; +44-20-7226-5271

Rawduck

Mussels served at Rawduck.
Mussels served at Rawduck.
Photographer: Richard Vines

This London Fields sibling of Ducksoup in Soho serves an eclectic menu of mainly light dishes that are strong on flavor.  Rawduck has a high-ceiling, large windows, shared tables and a pared-down design that is typical of Hackney. Dishes that stand out include poached chicken broth, minestra nera, butter beans and polenta (£12). Dish to try: Mussels, pancetta, rosemary and charred sourdough (£10).

197 Richmond Rd., E8 3NJ; +44-20-8986-6534 

Rudie's

Jerk Chicken is served at Rudie's.
Jerk Chicken is served at Rudie's.
Photographer: Richard Vines/Bloomberg

This Jamaican restaurant serves fine jerk chicken that has been marinated for 24 hours and cooked over charcoal and wood smoke. It's served with a choice of sauces - papaya, banana pepper, and jerk ketchup - and costs £13.50 for a half or £24 for a whole. Also look out for the special of goat curry. The service is friendly and the cocktails are hot, including the signature Katch a Fire rum punch at £12, or £28 sharing. Dish to try: Jerk Chicken.

50 Stoke Newington Rd., N16 7XB; +44-20-7249-9930

Tonkotsu

Seafood ramen at Tonkotsu.
Seafood ramen at Tonkotsu.
Photographer: Richard Vines/Bloomberg

Tonkotsu is known for its fine ramen and seafood, including classic noodles with king prawn, squid, clams, seasoned egg, bamboo shoots and spring onions (£11). The Mare Street outlet has one of London's widest selections of Japanese whiskies, including the Yamazaki 18 at £45 for 25ml - or £89 for 50ml. Dish to try: Chicken kara-age burger (£6.95).

382 Mare St., E8 1HR; +44-20-8533-1840 

Ellory

Chef Matthew Young and sommelier Jack Lewens opened this 48-seat London Fields bistro in November. The seasonal menu changes daily and features uncluttered dishes that highlight just a few ingredients. The five-course tasting menu costs £38, while the adventurous wine list is also reasonably priced for London, with bottles starting at £20. Dish to try: Raw mullet, rhubarb and radicchio (£7).

Netil House, 1 Westgate St., E8 3RL

Richard Vines is the chief food critic at Bloomberg. Follow him on Twitter @richardvines

 

 

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