120-122 Morning Lane, E9 6LH
020 3441 8765 / @legsrestaurant
The deal: Hurrah! We think we've found the one place in East London where "sharing plates" actually means "enough food on one plate to share with someone else". Scarred from too many Hackney-based restaurants where we've been forced to have a second dinner afterwards, we were a little hesitant about Legs - perhaps from the odd choice of name (which actually comes from wine-drinking terminology, the "legs" of the vintage when sloshed around a glass) or for the fact it took the place of our beloved Railroad Cafe (RIP) on Morning Lane. But a well-crafted menu from head chef Magnus Reid (ex-Rooftop Cafe) saw big plates of seasonal food that were equally big on flavour. This cosy and friendly little spot - opposite the behemoth that is the Hackney Fashion Walk - is sure to become a firm favourite with locals. TBH, we're already planning a repeat visit...
The food: There's a pleasing mix of influences on the concise menu, but none of it feels forced or out of place - more like flavour-pairing experiments that have hit the right note. Grilled corn on the cob was given a Japanese twist with some umami-rich miso butter and flaked nori (£5) sprinkled on top. Then, it's pretty much impossible to see burrata (£10) on a menu and not order it - and this one could have easily passed for a dessert course, too: the shiny orb of creamy cheese paired with juicy nectarine and crumbled pistachios was a total treat. Fried potato with creme fraiche and trout roe (£8) took chips 'n' dips to a whole new level, while the generous-sized portion of pork belly was a solid main course choice, served with a tangy plum sauce and given a little heat with chargrilled whole jalapeños. Dessert was a dreamy bowl of honey ice cream, and keeping with the theme, a little bee pollen for texture, then finished with some delicate parsnip crisps - an inventive and sweet way to round off the meal.
The signature dish: The pork belly was incredible, but we'd love to see that honey ice cream and parsnip crisps on the menu for a long time.
Head chef: Magnus Reid
Damage to pocket: Several shared plates and a bottle of wine (they've got a great selection of small producer and natural wines - don't miss out on the specials) will set you back around £45 per person.
When to dine: Weekend evenings are when it's at its buzziest - but make sure to book, as they fill those seats pretty quickly. Closed on Mondays.
File under: Weekenders, Brunching, Date night, Mid-week munches