f you think Hackney is all hipsters sipping craft beer and supping on street food, well, you wouldn’t necessarily be wrong (and I say this with the authority of a loyal resident). Yet while this increasingly affluent demographic may be maligned for the undeniable gentrification of the neighbourhood, there's no denying that urban renewal has brought with it an influx of top-notch eateries serving seriously exciting food.
From the area’s newest Michelin-starred restaurants to its burgeoning reputation as a hub of international cuisine, here are the best restaurants in Hackney right now.
Tucked away on an unprepossessing street between a warehouse and a new housing development in Hackney Wick, Cornerstone, from the outside, is so understated you might walk straight past it. Inside, it’s a completely different story.
Founded by chef Tom Brown, Great British Menu finalist and formerly of Nathan Outlaw's in Cornwall, Cornerstone gained its first Michelin star this year thanks to its stellar seafood. Expect a short menu of delicate-yet-satisfying dishes that make the most of seasonal ingredients. Highlights include the hake Kiev and crab crumpet with rarebit.
Earlier this year, Michelin introduced its Green Star Guide to recognise restaurants making a concerted effort towards sustainability. Silo featured among its first crop of recipients. Which will hardly come as a surprise to anyone fortunate enough to have dined there since it opened in 2014. The ethos here is zero waste in every sense of the word. There’s an onsite brewery and flour mill, butter and oat milk is made in-house and scraps are fed into the restaurant’s compost machine to be used in future food production. All ingredients are delivered in reusable containers and even the tables are made from reconstituted food packaging.
The food, if you hadn’t guessed, is of the nose-to-tail variety, with vegetarian options featuring heavily. Don’t expect to be able to picture any of the dishes from reading the menu though – just trust us when we tell you they’re worth the trip east.
After cutting his teeth under lauded chefs including Claude Bosi, Jason Atherton and Phil Howard, Andy Beynon opened Behind in London Fields in late 2020 – and, just 20 days later, was rewarded with a Michelin star. If you want to try Beynon’s modern seafood cookery, however, you might be in for a bit of wait. The restaurant offers just one or two daily kitchen-table sittings – meaning it serves a maximum of just 36 guests per day. The wait will, undoubtedly, be worth it. Based on a concept offering diners a ‘behind-the-scenes’ glimpse into the kitchen, dishes such as native lobster muffin, mushroom ‘tea and toast’ and guinea fowl with pumpkin are served by the chefs to a single table overlooking all the culinary action.
This tasting menu-only eatery from Adolfo De Cecco, former head chef at the nearby Pidgin, opened in spring 2019 and received its first Michelin star in the 2021 guide. Self-described as a small neighbourhood eatery, the cooking here is of international standards, with a strong focus on local, seasonal ingredients. Expect an unusual menu that meanders around the globe, melding Asian flavours with Western ingredients and cooking techniques in dishes such as potato with fermented tom yum and seaweed, and ex-dairy cow beef with sourdough miso and frigitelli.
This wine bar and restaurant from the team behind the hugely popular wine shop Noble Fine Liquor, as well as Clapton bar P.Franco and Hackney restaurant Peg, opened in summer 2018 to rave reviews, adding another string to the bow of London Fields’ achingly-cool food scene. As well as an extensive menu of modern European sharing plates, which wanders the continent with an intriguing offering including cured beef with pecorino, and walnuts and gorgonzola dolce with oat crackers, its vast wine list is available to drink-in or takeaway by the bottle.
The Water House Project
Having started life in 2015 as a series of supper clubs hosted by eponymous chef Gabriel Waterhouse in his Bethnal Green flat, The Water House Project opened its permanent site in Hackney in autumn 2021. The concept is simple. Every month Waterhouse devises a new nine-course tasting menu spotlighting his Nordic-influenced cuisine, unusual flavour combinations and appreciation for seasonal British ingredients. Current highlights include baby beetroot with chocolate dressing, smoked chestnuts, coffee, fennel and pickled blackberries, and aubergine and cumin sorbet with salted plums and plum chutney.