City Pantry Reviews: Bistrotheque, Hackney

It would seem that there is something new to do in London everyday and it’s hard to keep up, so, as a result, I have compiled a list of restaurants, markets and pop-ups I’d love to try when the occasion arises. There are a few reasons a restaurant might end up on my list - a style of food I’ve not tried before, seasonal focus, an interesting décor, and, most importantly, a great drinks list. This is not simply because I like a drink, it’s because from my own experience, a restaurant with a great drinks list often produces great tasting food. Bistrotheque had been on my list for a while, their food is seasonal and their drinks menu includes London brewed craft beer, Campari based cocktails, and a well-chosen wine list, a winning combination in my eyes.

Bistrotheque is hidden away down a small road off Mare Street in Hackney; it is remarkably unassuming and easy to pass by should you not be paying attention. The entrance is less of an entrance and more of an empty garage space leading to a short flight of stairs; it is hard to imagine the expanse of space that awaits you once you reach the top. The converted warehouse is white and bright, with hanging lights, neat, smartly laid tables, an extensive and well-stocked wooden bar, complete with stools, and a bustling open kitchen. Open kitchens seem to be very on-trend at the moment, which is great; they give a sense of authenticity to the food being produced, with no walls or doors to hide behind. There is no pretense to what the chefs are doing, creating a relaxing atmosphere throughout the restaurant.

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Our first port of call was the bar, where I opted for a bottle of The Kernal Pale Ale, unfortunately, due to it’s popularity, there was a shortage of chilled bottles, but I went for it anyway. The Kernel Brewery manages to inject a wonderful citrus fruitiness into their hoppy ale, which I absolutely love, and will tend to order given the opportunity. The menu at Bistrotheque is British, varied, and simple in its description. As a non-meat eater, I opted for cured salmon, beetroot & horseradish remoulade to start, followed by whole mackerel, kohlrabi & walnuts. The simplicity of the menu reflected the care they took to show case the flavour of the main ingredients being used; the only downfall of this was the worry about whether a side dish would be necessary. The waitress was attentive and well informed so, after discussion, and with a belly full of beer, I decided a side wouldn't be necessary.

The starter was great, really fresh, not too big and well balanced. I particularly liked the horseradish remoulade that accompanied my salmon. It was coloured deep purple by the beetroot and had the crunch and pepperiness horseradish should, a great match for the thin slices of salty cured salmon, perhaps a little too salty for my taste. The main was my favourite part of the meal, a whole grilled mackerel, which had taken on a subtly smoky flavour from the way it had been cooked and was served with ever-so-thinly sliced Kohlrabi softened in some sort of sweet pickle. The crunch and earthiness of the walnuts completed the dish, which, in hindsight, would have been perfect for sharing. The menu is not overly geared towards sharing plates, but the nature of its simplicity allows for dishes to be shared, ideal for when you want to try a few different things.

The purpose of my visit to Bistrotheque was to treat my brother for his birthday so it seemed right to indulge in a little dessert. We shared a custard tart accompanied by (his favourite) a white Russian. Both were well made, a generous grating of nutmeg balanced the sweetness of the custard tart, whilst the white Russian was sweet and creamy accompanied by the subtle warmth of the vodka. Overall, the whole experience at Bistrotheque was easy, we were able to relax, order and eat at our own convenience and ask questions when necessary. I would certainly go back as there was plenty of food on the menu I was keen to try, but if there was one reason to return, it would be to sample their negroni, which I simply did not have space for this time around.

Cost per person is around £30-40 including drinks.

Address: 23–27 Wadeson Street, London E2 9DR

Visit the website here.