£30 - £49
Arch 338, Acton Mews, London, E8 4EA
Nailing two huge food trends in one fell swoop, ex-Ottolenghi chef Josh Katz’s Haggerston railway arch hangout Berber & Q brings together smoky BBQ and culinary influences from North Africa and the Middle East. It hasn’t missed a beat since its 2015 opening, and we’ve been floored by its barrage of explosive flavours: blackened aubergine and egg ‘sabich’ are given a thrilling extra dimension with homemade mango pickle; cauliflower shawarma from the charcoal-fired mangal is dressed with tahini and rose petals, while a tray of sticky harissa chicken wings calls for several sides of serviettes (don’t even think about ordering this on a date). The atmosphere is energetic, the lighting low, the volume high; reservations aren’t taken (naturally), but there’s space at the bar, where you can sup their own Crate beer or amuse yourself with funky cocktails with names like Haggerstoned or Scammed in Marrakech.
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58A De Beauvoir Crescent, London, N1 5SB
This Venezuelan eatery on Regent’s Canal is ideal for those after something a bit different for a quick bite to eat. Arepa refers to the house cornbread which makes the surround for hefty sandwiches, while cachapas (sweet corn-based pancakes) are also on offer. Fillings include Pabellón (shredded beef, black beans, plantains and cheese) and Jardinera, a combination of roast vegetables and goats’ cheese. Start with cassava fingers with garlic and parsley sauce or green plantains with shredded beef and guacamole, and finish with little pastries filled with melted chocolate and served with ice cream. Enthusiastic staff are keen for all comers to try their Venezuelan Santa Teresa rum, which they’re happy to serve neat or disguised in cocktails. Most people find one is not enough. You have been warned.
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£30 - £49
390 Kingsland Road, London, E8 4AA
Flying the flag for the single ingredient trend, Chick ‘n’ Sours is street foodie Carl Clarke’s first permanent offering and serves up spicy fried chicken to hungry Haggerston hipsters. The friendly staff are quick to seat diners around small wooden tables, which jostle together for space and contribute to a lively atmosphere, much like the sharing plates which swiftly make their way out of the kitchen.
To start, the sticky disco wings were messy and felt gloriously indulgent, while the chicken tenders are a lighter goujon-style offering and come with a choice of dips, including sriracha with sour cream. The charred white sprouting broccoli with seaweed mayo, grated egg and green beans was cooling and cut through the hotness of the enormous chicken thighs (smeared in chilli jam and sprinkled with crispy shallots, Thai basil, mint and spring onion), while crunchy yam bean slaw with miso mayo was similarly complementary. The soft-serve Weetabix crunch ice cream worked surprisingly well thanks to the contrast between the crispy flakes and creamy coldness; a welcome refreshment after the spiciness of the previous courses. Wash down with a frothy, lime-y sour: we particularly recommend the sweet but herby basil ‘n’ strawberries concoction, but there are some locally brewed beers and wine if cocktails aren’t your thing. Bold flavours and even bolder portion sizes mean you won’t want to go every week, but this combined with the jolly atmosphere make it a great place to pop in for a quick bite on a weeknight if you live locally, or to line your stomach with a group of friends before heading out in east London. We’re sure the hefty brunch bun (fried thigh, avocado, hot sauce, bacon, fried egg and homemade kewpie) will be just what the doctor ordered in the morning, too.
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