"Hackney Wick’s cosy neighbourhood restaurant"Review Rating: Reviewed by Leila
In the brief walk from Hackney Wick station it seems unlikely that there is a cosy neighbourhood café and restaurant on the block, but that’s exactly what The Hackney Pearl is. It’s plonked in the middle of a residential, slightly glum looking part of the East End that has become extremely trendy in the last few years, partly thanks to the nearby Olympic regeneration and partly thanks to the increasing numbers of artists’ studios that have been springing up.
Compared to a previous visit four years ago, on the inside the Hackney Pearl hasn’t changed in the slightest, it’s shabby chic but reminds us a bit of a school canteen. They’ve achieved their aim of becoming a locals’ hangout, as there are several tables occupied by people working on laptops, mostly sporting regulation East London tattoos and beards.
But the main draw is definitely the food. Starters of bresaola drizzled with olive oil, with roasted fennel and a delicious sumac aioli, and beetroot-cured salmon on toast with crème fraiche paired with lemony, juicy caperberries, are both fantastic flavour combinations.
Roasted chicken leg is perfectly cooked, with superbly crispy skin and tender meat. On the side there’s moghrabieh, a type of couscous with bigger, softer grains, sprinkled with sumac; here they use the properly aromatic, citrusy stuff rather than the blander version sometimes found in supermarkets. A dish of Toulouse sausages and roast potatoes is hearty and filling.
It’s a shame they don’t have the gloopy cakes they had last time, as dessert is limited to ice cream or lemon posset. Alternatively there’s a choice of English cheeses, among them Francis, a pungent variety with a cider-washed rind.
The Hackney Pearl is a charming little spot in the middle of East London's industrial landscape.
Leila reviewed The Hackney Pearl on Tue 26 Aug 2014