SquareMeal Review of
The Hackney Empire’s in-house café (the former Marie Lloyd bar) has been transformed into something out of Urban Pantry by the folks behind the Old Ship Inn a few doors down. The Empire Café shares
its neighbour’s enthusiasm for ‘Great British’ produce, but presents it more casually in the form of a (sorry-looking) breakfast buffet, salad bar, carvery & selection of sandwiches &
cakes. Service is largely self-service. There are some nice ingredients – Cumbrian air-dried ham & tangy Ticklemore goats’ cheese on the deli counter, for example – but it’s not all such
sparkling quality. Vintage shades, funky wallpaper & an antique clock display jazz up the room somewhat, though at its core this is a functional café: good for meal deals, a pre-theatre bite
& a drop of (English) wine. The strongest selling point is the sofa-filled mezzanine: as peaceful a hideaway as you’ll find in Hackney Central.
Empire Café is recommended for