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3 Prince Edward Road
When a chef with a background in Michelin-starred kitchens chooses a location for a solo debut, Hackney Wick is unlikely to top the list – but it has for Tom Brown. The former head chef at Outlaw’s at The Capital has sited Cornerstone, his thrilling new small-plates venture, just a few minutes’ walk from the railway station among a little group of recently developed retail spaces.
Don’t be disheartened by the locality: there’s ample space for diners, and the vibe in the restaurant is cool, with black tabletops, retro wicker chairs and black walls (complete with requisite scribbles). Mercifully, the place avoids crossing over into hipster-satire territory thanks to the friendly young team at the helm. Guests are greeted by the central dining counter, behind which you’re likely to find Brown beavering away. Unsurprisingly, given the chef’s pedigree, his regularly changing menu champions seafood. The run of small plates we sampled, served in terracotta tapas dishes, were exceptional.
Our bubbly waitress recommended eight plates between two and the meal kicked off with a pair of sensational oysters, pickled for two hours in gherkin vinegar and served with a subtle horseradish cream. Next up, a mound of juicy potted shrimps arrived piled high on a warm crumpet, soaked with shrimp butter that melted into the holes. A perfectly cooked strip of succulent bream followed, elevated to luxury by hidden chunks of lobster and saffron. Desserts, too, are a force to be reckoned with. A light, fluffy pistachio cake with vanilla cream and a sticky mess of raspberries preceded a heavenly peach crumble well worth the 20-minute wait time: its crispy top layer breaking to reveal tangy cubes of fresh peach, completed by a dollop of cream and hints of lemon.
The drinks list provides admirable back-up, informed by on-trend cocktails and classy European wines, but prices as a whole can add up (£10 desserts are rare in Hackney Wick), and some diners might consider Cornerstone rather out of the way. Nevertheless, this is an accomplished, exciting debut from one of the capital’s most promising chefs – we can’t wait to see what Brown does next.
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3 Prince Edward Road
Hackney Wick Station 361m
Homerton Station 1km
Victoria Park 1km
Stratford Picture House 1km
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 3
We found ourselves a bit confused here, a modern restaurant with a top chef in a fully open kitchen set amongst the road works of Hackney Wick and patronised by local noisy millennials who can hardly stop chirping long enough to feed their faces let alone appreciate the food and achieving a volume level almost the equal of that at Pollen Street Social. The quietest area in the place was the kitchen, with Tom Brown calmly passing on instructions as he finished the dishes to go to the pass. Indeed, the kitchen was an oasis of calm by comparison with the action front of house, where, with one Hibernian exception, the staff appeared unable to keep up with the hectic pace of service in the small plates regime and thus unable to interact with the guests. There was no tasting menu as such, but we discovered that the items on the carte marked with a star could be served for a set price, although it was not clear at first glance. The pickled oyster with crunchy celery, horseradish and dill made an excellent start, and this was followed by cured gurnard, an option familiar to Port Isaac devotees, along with almonds and grapes for texture and sweetness and a dash of sherry vinegar adding an extra tang. So far so good, and then one of the absolute highlights - cured mackerel with fish pâté, super separate and divine together, and supported brilliantly by seaweed broth, mild cucumber, dill and treacle bread perfect for mopping up the juices. The next dish was listed as chargrilled celeriac, but for us the feature was the superb cod’s roe backed up by a creamy dressing on a shredded celeriac remoulade and with crunchy hazelnut for texture. We had been looking forward to the potted shrimp crumpet but we hadn’t reckoned with the hit from the cayenne butter although this was balanced and alleviated by a kohlrabi cream. The perfectly cooked hake was elevated by a pumpkin purée which emphasised the taste and texture of the fish and matched the thyme dressing expertly. Blue cheese came as an accompaniment to a lovely brown butter honey cake and delicious warm fig. We finished off with chocolate fondant resplendent with peanuts, banana and a touch of rum, delicious but very difficult to share equally. Our mint tea to round the meal off was just that - no petits fours appeared. Our overall reaction was mixed because although many of the dishes were top-class, we reckoned that a good deal of them had been pre-prepped to provide the maximum throughput for the maximum headcount in any one evening - we had been warned of the possibility of having our table turned - and, given the enormous potential of the kitchen to furnish excellent cuisine along more classical lines, we did feel a slight let-down.
Food + drink: 5
On hearing that Chef Tom Brown was looking for a venue to set up his own restaurant I was very excited to find out where that would be. Then when we heard that it would be in Hackney Wick I was at first a bit surprised but secondly very happy as it wasn't to far away. In fact it's in a great location just one stop from Stratford in an area that is quickly being redeveloped which should be great for the restaurant. Being very keen to visit knowing his back round as Head Chef for Nathan Outlaw and also seeing him on Great British Menu we decided on Saturday to do just that. We got on a train at Romford then just 20 minutes later we're walking out of Hackney Wick station where you immediately see all the redevelopment taking place. Then just a very short walk from the station you arrive at Cornerstone which is set in a quirky little area. As you enter the restaurant there's a nice relaxed & casual atmosphere. We were greeted by one of the staff who were all very friendly throughout our visit. We started with a drink at the bar and it was from there you got a great view of the big open kitchen in front of you with the tables set out at the front and down each side of the kitchen. We were then seated at the side in fact right where Tom was himself which was great and gave you an insight to seeing a chef run his restaurant close up. We was then given the menu and as we expected it was mainly fish in fact nine of the twelve courses which are all sharing plates. Our waiter went through the menu options to help us decide but we just looked at him and said can we have everything which seem to please him so that's exactly what we did. We started with some Sourdough Toast & Coral Butter before enjoying a fabulous Pickled Oysters with celery , horseradish & dill we then enjoyed some delightful Raw Hand Dived Scallops with Tomato before a stunning Cured Monkfish with grape , almond & sherry vinegar The next course was a fantastic Mackerel Pate with seaweed , cucumber & homemade Rye Bread. This was then followed by a beautiful Asparagus dish with smoked cod's roe. We then had an amazing Lamb Shoulder Kiev with anchovy , pea & mint before enjoying a fantastic Potted Shrimp Crumpet with kohlrabi , gherkin & parsley. The final four courses were some of the best fish dishes you could wish to try and we started with a amazing piece of Plaice with lobster , paprika & courgette followed by a fabulous Roast Pollock & cafe de Paris hollandaise. We then had the most fantastic Cider Braised Cuttlefish with lentil , apple & spring onion dressing before our last dish a stunning Ray Wing with a spiced aubergine purée , basil & ginger. Well it has to be said each and every dish was amazing We chose a lovely bottle of organic wine the Macabeo 2017 with its fruity aromas of apricot , Pear & citrus fruits with floral notes that seemed to compliment the dishes quite nicely It was then time for Cheese & desserts as we jokingly said to the waiter that we was going to have everything. There was a nice selection of five cheeses which came with a delicious Saint Kew Chutney & Sourdough Crackers. Before moving onto desserts which were also heavenly and literally a excellent way to finish. The first being a Cornish Burnt Cream with strawberry saffron & ginger. The second was a Chocolate Mousse with raspberry & pistachio bringing to an end a simply amazing lunch After finishing with a coffee it was time to head home but not before having a nice little chat with Tom who came across as a really nice person. He also asked us which was our favourite dish which was the hardest question of the day as they were all a delight and we couldn't reply with just one. This was definitely some of the best fish courses I've had the pleasure of tasting and I'm already looking forward to a return visit. So with the food being amazing the staff so friendly and a nice atmosphere I would highly recommend paying a visit to this restaurant I honestly believe you will not be disappointed
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