Hackney Coterie is a brasserie and wine bar found in a repurposed warehouse. Outside, there’s an open-air terrace, while inside features Hackney appropriate interiors - industrial elements such as exposed brick walls and ceiling pipes are juxtaposed with warmer features, including potted plants and contemporary artwork.
Much like its interiors, Hackney Coterie’s menu taps into current restaurant trends, serving a list of seasonal sharing plates. Don’t expect crowd-pleasing, populist dishes though, for the food here is often surprising, occasionally curious and always thoughtful.
Hackney Coterie’s website vaguely notes it is ‘not attached to a specific cuisine’, although we recognised strong Asian influence throughout. The kitchen is also passionate about minimal waste, evidenced by a plate of leftover fried potato skins offered as complimentary snacks to every table, showered with a lively kimchi salt and dangerously addictive.
Between two, we recommend ordering four small plates and two large. From the former, we most enjoyed the ‘thousand layered potatoes’ - thinly sliced then pressed together to create a golden stack with a crisp outer edge and fluffy center, paired with a slightly bitter black tea mayonnaise. Elsewhere, grilled flatbreads are coupled with umami-rich taramasalata, while chargrilled salmon belly is served skewered, lightly spicy thanks to gochujang chilli, but its heat tempered by a neighbouring splodge of fermented apricot.
From the larger dishes, hefty salmon steaks are slicked with soy and complemented by a lime and sambal salad that helps its freshness sing. Pork belly meanwhile, is fatty and succulent, showered with cubes of pickled watermelon to cut through its richness.
For pudding, the stand-out dish is the burnt butter tart, a disc of thick-set custard supported by a buttery biscuit base and sporting a creamy, almost savoury texture - a smart choice when looking for something in between sugary delight and cheese board.
We also appreciated the sweet, intimate service - perhaps a necessity in a restaurant where you have to walk through the kitchen to get to the loos. Sharing concepts might be de rigueur these days, but Hackney Coterie’s menu is exciting and inventive enough to feel like it offers something fresh.