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Hackney Coterie brings new flavours to the heart of East London

Wine bar meets low-waste fine dining, Hackney Coterie puts as much care into its wine selection as it does the menu. You'll have a ball

Hackney Coterie

Hidden away under the railway arches by Hackney Downs station, this unassuming spot is home to a vibrant new restaurant.

Calling itself a modern brasserie, the restaurant and wine bar is not defined by one cuisine, although hints of modern British and Asian run throughout. Hackney Coterie is founded by two friends, Anthony Lyon running front of house and sommelier Kelvin McCabe.

With exposed brick, hanging plants and colourful Basquiat-esque art, we’re definitely in East London. A giant pop-art portrait of Sid Vicious looms over the restaurant, looking down upon us saintlike with a pink and gold halo. My personal favourite artwork was a giant photograph of a naked man sat on the toilet, placed strategically opposite the entrance to the loos.

This restaurant is a labour of love, which was easy to see in Anthony and Kelvin’s considered service. I hear they are down a KP on the day I attend, so everyone’s been pitching in with the washing up. With the hospitality industry facing an employment crisis, their service is a testament to their dedication and passion for the venue.

What to eat?

With a low waste ethos, Hackney Coterie likes to use the bin as little as possible. Order a series of small and large plates to curate the perfect sized meal depending on how hungry you are. Designed for sharing, I recommend ordering a variety of fish, vegetable and meat dishes to experience the full range of flavours.

For small plates, we ordered the beef shin croquettes, mackerel fillet and charred hispi cabbage, and for large the fallow haunch and wild boar. The charred hispi cabbage with dashi ketchup and shrimp ‘candy floss’ was a surprising front runner. The sweetness of the brined cabbage combined with its smoky, chargrilled exterior allowed the vegetable to become a star in its own right.

The mackerel fillet with pickled cucumbers and citrus-infused crème fraiche was another highlight. But the fallow haunch, served rare with sauteed wild mushrooms and fermented celeriac, paired with a glass of clos somi, was my standout dish.

Hackney Coterie

If you’ve a particular sweet tooth, the desserts at Hackney Coterie may not be for you. Head chef Dominic Auger tells me there’s a “time and a place” for very sweet desserts, but that’s not here.

We ordered the divisive burnt butter set custard. Garnished with a moss-like coating of nettle powder and edible flowers, this dessert could be something out of a fairyland. We definitely came down on the 'pro' side. 

Hackney Coterie

What to drink?

Here the wine is just as important as the food and the list is almost four pages long. If you’re not sure what to order from the extensive list, which includes some skin-contact (AKA orange) wines, just ask Kelvin.

An auspicious day in the wine world, I found myself at the restaurant on the third Thursday in November, Beaujolais Nouveau day. Every year French winemakers race to bottle and distribute the first bottles of this wine, made from gamay and famous for being unfiltered and sulphur-free. This is the day it is opened across the world.

The Beaujolais Nouveau arrived in Hackney on Wednesday, where it waited eagerly to be opened at the stroke of midnight – Anthony tells me it’s actually illegal to open the bottles before the correct date. It would have been rude not to start the evening with a Beaujolais Nouveau, and Kelvin served us with a glass of their exclusive bottle by Domaine Gaget. He followed with wine pairings for our chosen dishes.

The bar serves a selection of original cocktails, which includes their own takes on the negroni and margarita. The Sweet Beat was a drink that fans of the Manhattan will enjoy. The whisky-based cocktail mixed flavours of cacao, apricot and white chocolate, creating a nutty flavour with a sweet finish.

Hackney Coterie

Will it bankrupt me?

Small plates average around £7 and large come in at about £26. When you’re ordering four to five dishes between two, plus wine, the bill can creep up – but it’s 100% worth the expense!

There is also a set menu for a very reasonable £20 for two courses and £25 for three, available for lunch and early dinner.

If you feel like splashing out, the most expensive bottle of wine comes in at £300 for the 2012 Hermitage by JL Chave.

Anything else to note? 

Brunch, Sunday roast, takeaway coffee, this restaurant does everything.

And fancy taking home a midnight snack? Hackney Coterie is also a wine and cheese shop, so you can buy something nibble (or drink) on the journey home.

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230B Dalston Ln, London E8 1LA; Hackney Coterie

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