We had an amazing meal last week with our foodie friends at the Pidgin restaurant, Wilton Way in Hackney, East London. At this intimate eatery, which sits 28 people, you are treated to a carefully planned and remarkably creative four course set meal. To keep things interesting the owners, James Ramsden and Sam Herlihy (The Secret Larder supper club) change the menu every week. If you’re looking for the best restaurants in Hackney, places to eat in East London or a romantic meal in London book yourself a table at the Pidgin restaurant.
Pidgin Restaurant Menu
The head chef is Elizabeth Allen and the sous-chef is Dan Graham who devise the menu with James and Sam. They serve modern British fare but with a twist because they take inspiration from all cuisines and countries when planning the menu. This approach leads to really interesting and often unusual flavour combinations so it’s on the experimental side but without being overly pretentious. It’s a four course set meal which usually involves meat, fish or seafood. They do have a separate vegetarian offering which has parallels to the main menu so do ask about that in advance if it’s not displayed on the website. When you book it’s a good idea to let the restaurant know about any dietary requirements so that they can accommodate you.
Even though it’s a four course set menu we were given some tasty nibbles to start with. Our meat eating friends had a snack of spiced duck croquettes topped off with pickled elderberries, these were just too cute. Homeboy and I enjoyed our spiced Padrón peppers which were excellent. We were also given a mini sack with five pieces of freshly baked bread and a little dish of butter which tasted amazing, it was almost like cream. This was a great start to the evening which got us feeling very excited about what was to arrive next.
We all had the same first course which featured tomato, watermelon, super creamy burrata, watercress and an exceptionally tasty spring onion. I know it seems crazy to comment on a spring onion but it really added to the dish. Mental note to roast up some spring onions at home. The presentation was pretty and the flavour combinations worked exceptionally well together.
Moving on to the second course which was baby carrots with black sesame, kimchi and peanuts for me. There were three sweet tasting carrots which were each cooked differently. The sweetness was offset against the nutty, smoky black sesame and the sour kimchi. Our friends tucked into their teeny tiny quail which also had the black sesame, kimchi and peanut.
The main course was Pollock and was served with coco beans, cucumber, black garlic bagna cauda, shrimp and sea aster. Bagna cauda is a warm dip from Piedmont in Italy which is rather like a fondue made from garlic, anchovies, olive oil, butter and sometimes cream. Sea aster is an edible sea plant with green leaves and a slight salty taste to it. The three boys tucked into their Pollock fish dish and I didn’t hear a peep out of them for a few minutes so that was a good sign. Meanwhile I enjoyed my veggie version which was coco de paimpol (white haricot beans). These were combined with girolles, or chanterelles which are meaty tasting mushrooms in a funnel shape. Other ingredients included black garlic, sea aster and golden beetroots plus a runny egg yolk on top.
I loved the dessert which had a sweet and savoury balance. It was roast cocoa gelato with cherry, coke and cocoa nib. It was seasoned with thyme and a sauce was poured over the top. My friend Robin wasn’t keen on the cherry part of the dessert which I suppose is the only down side of a set meal but with four courses you have room for one of the components to push your food boundaries. We all agreed that the meal was excellent value for money in terms of creativity, ingredients, textures and flavour delivery. The menu also recommends perfect drinks pairings which were spot on.
Pidgin Restaurant Interiors
This is a small restaurant with around 28 covers so is intimate and cozy. Although it’s in the petite side we didn’t feel that we were too close to neighbouring tables. The restaurant is in a grey painted shop unit with glass windows which had bistro style curtains covering the lower portion. There are a couple of pavement tables and chairs should you need a cigarette break in between courses. I’d recommend dining there with your lover or in a group of four rather than a big group of people so you can enjoy the intimate setting.
The interiors are contemporary and simple. Decoration is provided from branches and twigs adorning the white washed walls. At the back there is a shelf high up with an assortment of jars and wine bottles. There is one toilet which is near the kitchen which is well worth a visit with because of the décor. The wooden bistro dining chairs were classic and comfy. The brass rimmed tables complemented the brass pendant light shades. The simple styling was welcoming, snug and totally charming.
Pidgin Restaurant Information
Cuisine: Experimental modern British cuisine plus other influences depending on the menu for the week
Price: £40 for four course set menu
Website: Pidgin Restaurant Website
Address: 52 Wilton Way, Hackney, London E8 1BG
Near: London Fields and Hackney Central overground lines
Open: Tuesday to Friday 6pm-11pm, Saturday 1pm-3pm and 6pm-11pm, Sunday 1pm-3pm and 6pm-10.30pm
Wi-Fi: Too busy eating to check, this is not a restaurant where you should be checking your phone every five minutes!
Décor: Contemporary and minimal
Seating: Small restaurant with seating for 28 people only
Toilets: One toilet near the kitchen
Reservations: Yes, very important to book online via the website
Service Charge: Yes, discretionary 12.5%
Author: Homegirl London. Photographs: Homegirl London and courtesy of the restaurant. I took some food photographs but the lighting was dim so they didn’t look that great so I ended up using the restaurants photos instead. Thanks: Robin for finding and booking the restaurant plus Ness and Jeremy for the company.