As well as catching up on her East London food projects, we got Masterchef 2013 – and Hackney girl born and ‘bread’ – Natalie Coleman to give us the skinny on her top Hackney restaurants.
I love Hackney, it’s so diverse. You have all walks of life living here but we are so on point in trends. And because it’s a very relaxed and approachable place, it’s a good location to open up new places to eat. I for one feel more comfortable eating out east rather than going west.
You hop on a bus up Dalston way and you have amazing Turkish food, the bottom of Kingsland Road is home to the best Vietnamese restaurants in London, and Brick Lane is the mecca to curry. Then you have Street Feast hosting all the best street food vendors in London. Everything is a five or 10 minute bus ride.
On the weekends we are lucky to have Broadway Market and Columbia Road on our doorsteps that are mobbed week in, week out, as well pop ups and events that host street food and other cool independent traders who wouldn’t normally be on your radar.
Here are my Top Five places to eat in Hackney
1 – Fin & Flounder
I love this fish shop – It’s got some of the best fish in London. Not only that but Jack (or ‘Little Legs’ – he’ll kill me for saying that!) and the boys go out of their way for every customer: you can’t beat the service. I’m not the only person who thinks this, as at the weekends they have a huge queue of people going up the road just to get in.
2 – Viajante
I loved this when it was open in the old Bethnal Green Town Hall. Nuno Mendes is an absolute genius and I was very fortunate enough to do a weeks’ stage there with him and his team after MasterChef.
3 – Brawn
I went here recently with my mates: I had been dying to go and on the off chance we turned up and got a table. We ordered far too much food, it was a shameful amount. The service was amazing and the food, well, incredible. The duck hearts are probably the best thing I’ve ever eaten. I dream of them still….
4 – Hanoi Café
It looks like a Vietnamese version of the café off Eastenders. I used to run a club night with my best mate Ed, called Mooch. Every month before the club night we used to go with our guest DJ for dinner beforehand and I used to order the same things pretty much every month. It’s so good, and so cheap too, and is also a favourite because it’s a family run business which is quite rare to see these days.
5 – Hackney City Farm
I love this place. It’s amazing for breakfast or brunch with friends. My favourite dish is scrambled eggs with smoked salmon on sourdough, and it’s really cheap too. It’s very chilled out, and they have an amazing shop where you can buy all sorts of things including produce they grow there. You can even sign up to get weekly boxes of fruit and veg delivered. If you’re a big kid like me you can see all the animals they have on the farm too – it reminds me of my childhood when my Grandad took me and my sister every Sunday afternoon to see the animals. It’s been there as long as I can remember and still going strong. It’s well worth a visit if you have kids or visitors from out of town.