Top 5: Restaurants of 2014
From Northern Thai fermented pork to Venezuelan pancakes, Hackney has been awash this year with some amazing new restaurants and cuisines joining the area's stellar roster of eateries. We estimate that in E8 and the surrounding area (that's anywhere within a half an hour walk from here, FYI) there's around 200 independent restaurants to choose from and we've reviewed approximately a fifth of all those places in six months. So the good news is that there's lots more incoming next year.
But to take a look back at some of our personal favourites, here's our top five restaurants that were totally doing it for us this year, in no particular order...
Stevie Parle took a trip to Southern Italy and brought back some amazing dishes for his chi-chi restaurant Rotorino on Kingsland Road. The venue opened in April to much acclaim and we've been back several times for that incredible pea gnudi - or simply for a glass of Prosecco at the fancy bar. Read the full review here.
They really do it better in California, don't they? Mission (named after a district in San Fran) brought together the East End's most impressive wine selection with fresh, seasonal Cali-Brit dishes. Comes highly commended for their killer weekend brunch - it's another hit for the Sager + Wilde team. Check out what we thought here.
3. Arepa & Co
We were new to the delicious world of Venezuelan cooking, but we felt incredibly happy the day we discovered this gem hidden away on Regent's Canal. On offer are arepas (stuffed cornbread pockets) and cachapas (corn pancakes) with a varied range of fillings. The coffee's excellent, the staff are cheery and when the sun is shining, there's no better place to be. Read the full review here.
4. Eat 17
Eat 17 became a hit when it opened up improbably above the world's poshest SPAR on Chatsworth Road, back in April. Their buttermilk chicken burger quickly became an overnight sensation (and we'd argue was one of our favourite dishes of the year) and the Art Deco restaurant played host to many an incredible dinner for the rest of the year. Here's our take on the venue.
5. Rochelle Canteen
This one's a classic for us. Hidden away in a garden off Shoreditch High Street, Rochelle Canteen (headed up by Margot Henderson) never fails to disappoint with their seasonal British food. Perfect for al fresco summer dining, or get cosy in the converted bike shed restaurant at winter. It's cheery, it's BYOB - now, if only they'd open for dinner...Read more here.