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£30 - £49
One michelin star
254 Hackney Road, London, E2 7SJ
This stylish born-again boozer is a co-creation from chefs Tom Harris (ex-St John) and Jon Rotheram (ex-Fifteen). They've gone with tradition on the ground floor, refurbishing the bar, but upstairs you'll find a highly original dining room with a woven ceiling and zany lino floor in primary colours. One menu is served throughout, with signatures such as kid goat curry, beef and barley bun or honey and brown butter tart alongside less attention-grabbing (but delicious) items including cod with leeks and brown crab or Tamworth pork with hispi cabbage and mustard. To drink, pick an Old World wine or join the locals for a pint of Meantime Yakima Red. Handy for Columbia Road flower market on Sundays, when the pub serves brunch and roast lunches.
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£30 - £49
23-27 Wadeson Street, London, E2 9DR
Once an insider’s secret on a seedy Bethnal Green backstreet, Bistrotheque has gone on to become a bona fide east London institution. Best known for its weekend brunch service, it’s always packed to the rafters and great raucous fun, thanks to the colourfully coiffed house pianist and decent nosh (plates of pancakes with poached rhubarb and pork chops with layered potatoes do it for us) and even better cocktails. The decor “just stays cool” and the clientele is a veritable Who’s Who of modern east London, with a host of designers, architects, artists and assorted locals using it for nibbles, drinks at the “magnificent” bar (“staff will make sure your glass is never empty”) and lively suppers – perhaps pressed lamb with spring vegetables, cod with romesco sauce, caramelised tomato tart with burrata or “the best steak tartare in the east End”. The food’s good, but the ambience is “amazing”.
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Hoi Polloi at Ace Hotel
£30 - £49
100 Shoreditch High Street, London, E1 6JQ
‘An English modernist brasserie’ was the brief for this super-stylish all-dayer at the Ace Hotel, and the guys from Universal Design Studio really nailed it: nerds will find much to fawn over and fondle here, from timber walls to Ercol Butterfly chairs and Castiglioni ‘Snoopy’ lamps. You can enter via the ‘secret entrance’ in the florists, but we suggest using the adjacent hotel lobby for a better appraisal of the scene. It’s invariably buzzing here, with a seemingly endless supply of beautiful creatives lured in by Hoi Polloi’s fashion-conscious offer. Breakfast brings chia-seed Bircher muesli, lunch sees soft-shell crab rolls and teatime means cute googly-eyed fancies. Dinner heralds a more ambitious repertoire, from pretty plates of blackened sea trout with macerated fennel, or dry-aged pork chop with broad beans, peas and wild mushrooms, to pistachio and raspberry Eton mess. Cocktail hour is never dull, and we’re pleased that service seems to be on the up.
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Sager + Wilde Wine Bar
193 Hackney Road, London, E2 8JL
While Sager + Wilde’s Bethnal Green branch, with its busy, buzzy courtyard bar, is the business for East End cocktails and food, we recommend this quieter original Hoxton gig for bon vivants keen to connect with modestly marked-up, top-notch wines from indie vineyards. Oenophile husband-and-wife team Michael and Charlotte Sager-Wilde's maiden venture is a charismatic, quirky, pared-down, post-industrial modern wine bar with a constantly evolving list that delivers pleasant surprises from biodynamic growers working on often unfamiliar small estates. Cue a classy Carignan from South Africa's Western Cape and a sensational organic Saumur by Domaine Guiberteau – a deceptively complex, lively Loire red that's perfect lightly chilled for summer evening drinking. Pair your chosen tipple with small plates such as chorizo and bean hotpot, hake, potato and pepperwort ceviche or S+W's cheese toasties in their various permutations – the stuff of local legend.
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The Clove Club
£50 - £79
One michelin star
380 Old Street, London, EC1V 9LT
It’s all happened so quickly for The Clove Club. From supper club to pop-up to successfully crowdfunded launch in the space of three years, Isaac McHale’s Michelin-starred Shoreditch destination now rubs shoulders with the high flyers on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. It has achieved its success by doing things differently, such as adopting a pre-paid ‘ticketed’ booking system for dinner reservations (a first for London). The food’s experimental, with multi-course tasting menus promising a cavalcade of thrilling, enthralling and seriously on-point seasonal cooking along the lines of flamed mackerel with gooseberry and English mustard, Aylesbury duck ‘three ways’ (consommé, breast and smoked sausage) or apricot sorbet with burnt honey and bee pollen – all offered with imaginative wine pairings. Some find it precious, some too challenging, but nobody could fault McHale’s commitment. The dining room is chilled-out and surprisingly serene, with the bar even more so serving on-trend cocktails and racy snacks: we love the venison sausages with greengage ketchup and the buttermilk fried chicken with pine salt. In short, an unmissable one-off that chimes perfectly with cosmopolitan 21st-century London.
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£30 - £49
32 Rivington Street, London, EC2A 3LX
Curious passers-by peer through the window to catch a glimpse of Damien Hirst’s ‘Cock and Bull’ installation housed in chef/art collector Mark Hix’s Tramshed. They should brave it and go on in; allcomers are welcome at this cavernous industrial space where Hix serves seriously sourced chicken and steak – crowd-pleasers both – to solo diners at the bar, rowdy parties in capacious booths, and everyone in between. In less capable hands, Tramshed would be a fail-safe ‘yawn’ of a concept, but Hix’s menu goes beyond salt-aged Glenarm beef and roast barn-reared chooks into lively international territory. To wit, whipped chicken livers served with an enormous duck-fat Yorkshire pud (as a British alternative to brioche), American-style bone-in rib and slaw, a fearsomely hot curry, and a no-airs-and-graces raspberry cheesecake – not that anything will lure the lunchtime crowd away from their steak sandwiches. Wines and cocktails are credible rather than posey.
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Cay Tre Old Street
£30 - £49
301 Old Street, London, EC1V 9LA
Over the years, this Vietnamese eatery has established itself as an old faithful for the office workers, club kids and night owls of Shoreditch. It’s seen a few cosmetic changes (the current look features smooth white tables and monochromatic bamboo wall art), but it remains a modest enterprise that puts value to the fore. We’ve eaten our way around the menu and reckon that seafood is the top shout, be it a crispy Devon crab and glass noodle wrap, braised catfish clay pot or grilled monkfish with galangal, turmeric and dill cooked tableside. Meat eaters also have plenty to chew on, from spicy lamb neck curry or stewed pork belly with caramelised coconut juice and a hard-boiled egg to a ‘wokked’ pho loaded with braised beef shin, mustard greens and shimeji mushrooms. Yes, it’s busy (and noisy), but turnaround is steady, even with a brisk takeaway trade.
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83-89 Fieldgate Street, London, E1 1JU
Standing in line at venerable Tayyabs, it’s impossible not to wonder if it’s all worth it. But, once the queuing is over (factor in an hour), you’ll soon forget the hassle as the sound, smell and (finally) the taste of those sizzling hot tandoori lamb chops assails you. Since this “manic” family-run canteen started life on its east London backstreet in 1972, it’s been gussied-up just a little (the new bronze chairs and latticed screens actually look pretty smart), but it remains one of London’s favourite low-budget eateries, as popular with families and students as it is with rowdy City parties and mates on the town. Of course, you must have the lamp chops, but don’t overlook the biryani specials, “amazing” pumpkin curry and the better-than-it-sounds ‘dry meat’. Tayyabs is BYO, so choose something spice-friendly to go with your nosh. “Quick service” is exactly what’s required too.
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