The East London borough of Hackney is booming, particularly with regard to new restaurants, cafés, bars and speciality delis. Alongside long-established Vietnamese and Turkish eateries you’ll now find a Swedish corner café, a Ghanaian pop-up and even a farmyard bistro. A funky restaurant aesthetic has emerged, characterized by bare bulbs, monastic wooden benches and fresh local ingredients artfully displayed. This is a guide to eating in the area, which will take you on a trail from old classics to new independent restaurants to some alternative choices that are well off the beaten track.
You’ll find foodie Nirvana every Saturday in Hackney at the stalls of Broadway Market: sample everything from Norwegian salmon to Gujarati snacks and cute American cupcakes and whoopee pies. Variety and quality are the key words, plus there’s a high bearded hipster count.
Cooking with Mama
A social enterprise offering something a little different: cooking classes where a “Mama” from a different part of the world teaches you her home cooking. At a recent event in Hackney, Mama Thamara shared her love of vegetarian Sri Lankan food with a group of aspiring cooks. Future events feature Mama Susana who will teach you how to make a three-course Mexican meal, and Mama Esther spreading the word on Camaroonian cooking.
The E5 Bakehouse
This bakery started life in a kitchen in the E5 area, and now occupies a vaulted railway arch near London Fields in E8. At the front of the space are trestle tables and a counter laden with Bakewell and treacle tarts, Eccles cakes, chocolate brownies and more. But the powerhouse of the Bakehouse is the open kitchen at the back, where you can see dough being stretched, pumelled and shaped into the sourdough loaves that are the Bakehouse signature product. Try their Hackney Wild loaf, and if you’re bitten by the sourdough bug take one of the Saturday cooking courses. These are very popular so you have to sign up in advance, but you’ll end up with your very own pain de campagne, ciabatta, 66% rye, and bagels, plus a sourdough starter to launch your bread-making career.