Guest Feature: The Kids Turn Critics

It's hard to imagine the likes of AA Gill, Giles Coren and Fay Maschler as kids. Having spent years where the mere whisper of their names sends shivers down restauranteurs' spines, do you think it all kicked off at their childhood homes with a second-rate fish finger sandwich or a disappointing chicken drumstick? 

Like it or not, you can always rely on children to give an honest opinion. And while it's all well and good us at Chomping Ground filling you in on our top places to eat in Hackney and exactly what dish you need to be ordering, what about some other, slightly younger tastebuds and palates?

We teamed up with the Hackney Pirates - an out-of-school learning club with a bunch of nine to twelve year-old kids from the area - to get their opinions on a few of our favourite Dalston haunts and explain what about the food had them stamping their feet for more.

We bet Jay Rayner has never drawn cool pictures of the restaurants he's reviewing, either.

Voodoo Ray's 

"This is an Italian restaurant. It is named after a boy called Ray who made a song about Ray. That's where 
they got the name Voodoo Rays! They make ginormous pizzas that are out of this world!" – Dylan

"The mac 'n' cheese is as sticky as honey" – Eleni 

"The Margarita is cheesy, soft, chewy, mushy, gooey in the middle…very very delicious" – Dante 

"My favourite pizza they gave us was pepperoni because it gave the pizza a little spice and I like spicey stuff on pizzas. I could have eaten a whole slice of this pizza." – Presley



Mangal 2

"I love the chicken because it is smoky, a bit like jerk chicken. The pitta bread is tasty" – Priscilla 

"The bread and meat were my favourite things because they were wonderful and scrumptious. The 
vegetables were also crunchy and delicious" – Michaela 

"The flat bread was chewy and gooey. The lamb is salty and tender" – Syrone 

"The chicken is sweet and has a barbeque flavour. It is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The 
chicken is better than any chicken in the world" – Emmanuel



Merci Marie

"The restaurant's food smells like the desert and the tomatoes taste like sunburn. The meat was perfectly 
cooked in the sauce, it tasted like they should be married. It's like listening to an orchestra playing a summer song. The meat and the cake play the chorus, then the salad and the sauce play the melody. It’s a perfect meal with a summery accent" – Sophia

"The burger was absolutely delicious. It had spinach spread inside the meat. As you took a bite, scrumptious juices slowly slithered out of the meat" – Philip 

"The rhubarb tea was as sweet as honey and lemon. It was refreshing and orange like a giraffe" 
– Priscilla 


Thanks to Camilla and the Hackney Pirates. Their food book, What Dalston Tastes Like, will be available in a few weeks from their shop, The Ship of Adventures, 138 Kingsland High Street. For more information on the educational charity group, see