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Fans of Hackney’s Mayfields who mourned the loss of talented chef Matthew Young’s seasonal, refined cooking should celebrate the opening of Ellory. The new project sees Young join sommelier Jack Lewens (The River Café, Quo Vadis) to create a restaurant that picks up from where Mayfields left off. This simple box of a room by creative warehouse space Netil House (near Broadway Market) can accommodate 48 diners under bare light bulbs, with an open kitchen providing entertainment. The simple, laid-back ethos of the food and interior translates to the friendly, efficient service. Visitors can choose between a short à la carte or a very reasonably priced five-course set menu for £38. Dishes might include thin, pearly slivers of raw scallop layered over crunchy slices of chestnut and Jerusalem artichoke – a combination of subtle, mineral and earthy flavours that intensify as you eat – or a single handsome calçot onion, its deep leek-like flavours matched with splodges of creamy goats’ curd, salty trout roe and sharp pickled capers. To finish, a dessert of sweet pear sorbet, shaved chalky feta and aromatic sage oil is a revelation of beautiful textures and flavours: surprisingly, the star of the night. The two-page wine list focuses on the Old World; one of the great pleasures of dining here is to put yourself in Lewens’ capable hands as he pairs wines, ranging from biodynamic Champagne to orange wine, with each dish. In all, Ellory is a beacon of brilliance in Hackney’s burgeoning dining scene.
We’d like a big white please, we said. What do you mean, a big white, he said, as if a sommelier wouldn’t know that. You know, we said, like a big Burgundy, or a Gewürtz; something aromatic, we said, in unison. There was a suggestion of something orange, but whilst we are sufficiently adventurous to travel to the heart of Hackney, we are not quite brave enough to venture into natural wine territory.Out for dinner with the erstwhile book club, we had no book to discuss, but were meeting for old times’ sake. We used to enjoy the book club, but by the end it was simply a book-hook on which to hang an excuse...
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