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Peter Gordon's guide to Hackney

Peter Gordon's guide to Hackney

by Tom Shingler 12 October 2017

With trendy restaurants, some of the best food shops in London and incredible bakeries and cafés, Hackney is a must-visit for anyone with a love of good food. We take a stroll round the borough with Hackney resident and chef Peter Gordon to find out where he likes to shop, eat and drink.


Peter Gordon is one of the most influential chefs working in the UK today. Known for his ability to effortlessly combine flavours, ingredients and techniques from different cuisines onto one plate, he’s the godfather of fusion cooking – something you can experience at his celebrated The Providores and Tapa Room restaurant in Marylebone.

He’s also been a Hackney resident for the past six years, a borough which is known for its eclectic food scene. We were thrilled to mooch around the area with Peter to discover his favourite places to visit, and help spread the word about just how good Hackney’s restaurants, shops and cafés are.

When it came to choosing which businesses to include we had to cut Peter’s list down quite a bit, but he was very keen to mention Mangal 2 – a Turkish ocakbasi serving incredible kebabs; the Michelin-starred Ellory; Oklava (although this could technically be classed as Shoreditch rather than Hackney); Climpsons Coffee and many others. It just goes to show how rich Hackney’s food and drink scene is.

‘Hackney is such a big borough, but you can find little clusters of food businesses all over it,’ says Peter. ‘I love the neighbourhood I live in, near London Fields and Broadway Market, and these are some (but not all!) of the best restaurants and shops I like to visit.’

The Bread Station

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To go from being a Michelin-starred chef to opening a Nordic bakery in a railway arch isn’t the most obvious career move, but it’s certainly paid off for Christoffer Hruskova and his café-bakery The Bread Station – his bread is some of the best in the UK. Rather than making sourdough like the majority of other artisan bakers, he focuses on a unique Scandinavian method of breadmaking, which relies on a combination of rye and water and a long, slow proving. The result is fantastic loaves full of moisture – although many come to The Bread Station for the pastries and Caravan coffee, too.

Peter says: ‘I just think it’s a great place, and the bread is amazing. We’re not short on bakeries round here – there’s E5 Bakery and Pavilion, who have a stall on Broadway Market, but I love the way Christoffer makes his bread. It’s very different to sourdough; he uses this frothy stuff he keeps in his cool room instead of a yeasted starter. I’ve seen him come from setting the place up to creating a business, and he mills his own flour, which makes a hell of a difference.’

373 Helmsley Place, E8 3SB. thebreadstation.co.uk

Rawduck

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This all-day dining spot serves breakfast, lunch and dinner with a distinct Mediterranean vibe – but what makes Rawduck different is its dedication to producing a whole host of ferments, pickles, preserves and cures in-house. There are kombuchas, kefirs and drinking vinegars to taste, as well as a whole host of salads and plates given a welcome fermented kick.

Peter says: ‘I used to go to Rawduck’s other site Ducksoup in Soho quite a bit and loved the fact they had all this pickling going on, so it was fantastic when they opened here in London Fields. They do the whole fermenting, brining, curing thing so well, but it’s used in a way where it’s not thrown in your face. I remember having a peach and burrata salad here – the fruit was so ripe and the dressing was all briny from homemade vinegar. When I come here, I know my gut is probably all the better for it.’

197 Richmond Road, E8 3NJ. rawduckhackney.co.uk

Buen Ayre

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Argentina is famous for its steaks, but if you can’t make the trip to South America get yourself booked into Buen Ayres, which is home to some of the best steak in London. Based on Broadway Market, it’s a small dining room filled with Argentinian paraphernalia and a wonderful charcoal grill, which sees huge hunks of beef seared and cooked to perfection.

Peter says: ‘The great thing about this place is the charcoal grill, which they raise up and down over glowing coals. You can get blood sausage and sweetbreads as well as fantastic steak, and they’re all still sizzling as they’re brought to the table. This is a place you come to for a glass of wine, some fries and good meat. They’re empanadas are great, too – fluffy on the inside and crunchy on the outside.’

50 Broadway Market, E8 4QJ. buenayre.net

The Marksman

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The Marksman isn’t your average pub; named Michelin’s Pub of the Year in 2016, it’s where you’ll see some of the best examples of robust, hearty pub grub in the capital, just on Hackney's southern border. Downstairs is where you’ll find fine examples of craft beer, good wines and artisan spirits, but venture upstairs to the dining room and you’ll be rewarded with an incredible meal (the beef and barley bun is a must-try).

Peter says: ‘Sometimes I come here for a quick pint upstairs, but you can have a fantastic meal upstairs too. It’s just really nice to have seen it grow, along with the rest of Hackney Road. I love the grouse and the guinea fowl they serve here when it’s in season, and they serve amazingly crunchy roast spuds. The brunch here is great too – it just has a really nice vibe, and it’s right next to the flower market which is always incredible to walk around.’

254 Hackney Rd, E2 7SJ. marksmanpublichouse.com

Morito

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Drawing influence from southern Spain, North Africa and the eastern Mediterranean, Morito is the third restaurant from Sam and Sam Clark. Unlike the other two locations, Morito on Hackney Road has a distinct Cretan vibe, which is where head chef Marianna Leivaditaki grew up.

‘I’ve known the owners Sam and Sam Clark for a long time, and remember going to Moro and Morito in Exmouth Market when they opened. I’m really happy they opened a Morito on Hackney Road – they do these amazing crunchy chickpeas and I still have no idea how they cook them. I love their approach to Spanish and Moorish food, it’s definitely my favourite sort of cooking. Everything is very relaxed, with lots of plates to share between people.’

195 Hackney Rd, E2 8JL. moritohackneyroad.co.uk

Noble Fine Liquor

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The team at Noble Fine Liquor have quite a unique way of choosing what to stock – they basically buy in what they like to drink themselves, which usually results in shelves full of interesting, unusual and very tasty varieties. And while some shops can be a little bit intimidating, the focus here is about education – the staff are more than happy to recommend, explain and talk through what they’ve got on offer.

Peter says: ‘I usually come in here with no real idea of what I want to buy, and just talk to the guys about what I’m cooking to get their recommendations. They’ll bring out two or three bottles, tell you a little bit about them, and then you’ll leave with something very very good. For me it’s the perfect wine shop, as they’re just so helpful. It’s all about the conversation.’

27 Broadway Market, E8 4PH. noblefineliquor.co.uk

Fin and Flounder

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This traditional, family-run business on Broadway Market is all about quality and sustainability. Working with day boat fishermen from Scotland and Cornwall, and sourcing more specialist items from Billingsgate and France, you can be safe in the knowledge that whatever fish and shellfish you get from this small shop is ethical and the finest quality you can find. They also have a stall on Broadway Market every Saturday, where you’ll find the catch of the day cooked to perfection.

Peter says: ‘It’s where I go to buy all my fish. They’ll have all the usual things, but then they quite often have something more interesting like sea urchin. They also stock samphire, seaweed and sea buckthorn, which is great, and a good selection of wines to match with whatever you’ve bought.’

71 Broadway Market, E8 4PH. finandflounder.co.uk

Umut Supermarket

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With mini supermarkets from the likes of Tesco and Sainsbury’s popping up on every corner, you might wonder how a shop like Umut can compete. But once you look at the produce on offer and the range of ingredients that simply can’t be found in the bigger chains, it’s clear that this is a place that has a devoted following. Fresh fruit and vegetables – including many interesting varieties – as well as obscure store cupboard staples and Turkish specialities make Umut a favourite place to shop with Hackney residents.

Peter says: ‘We’re lucky because we have so many great food shops in Hackney, especially Cypriot and Turkish stores. Umut is my favourite, and it’s where I do the bulk of my shopping. It has all the ingredients I love to cook with.’

61-63 Westgate Street, E8 3RL.

Donlon Books

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An independent bookshop on Broadway Market, Donlon Books has been going since 2008. You certainly won’t find bestselling fiction here – instead, it’s a treasure trove of idiosyncratic art zines, rare titles, periodicals and photography. The team at Donlon have even printed some of their own books, and just a look at the shop window will give an idea as to the sorts of literature inside (Manhattan Penis Drawings was just one on show when we visited).

Peter says: ‘This is a really cool place with a great selection of books you won’t find anywhere else. It’s all very niche and caters to small audiences – things like old Etruscan books of poems which someone has printed 500 copies of. The last book I bought here was by a Parisian woman who photographed dancers spelling out the alphabet with their bodies, which made a really nice gift. If you buy a book from here, chances are no one else will have it.’

75 Broadway Market, E8 4PH. donlonbooks.com

Hill & Szrok

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Hill & Szrok is both a butchers and a restaurant (they call it a ‘cookshop’), specialising in free-range and organic meats from small farms around England. Everything on offer is butchered with impeccable skill, and lesser-known cuts are championed above all else. On the restaurant side of things (open from 7pm), you can choose the exact cut of meat you’d like to eat, before letting the chefs cook it beautifully as you sip on a glass of perfectly matched wine.

Peter says: ‘During the day it’s an old-fashioned butcher, but they close at five and open up a few hours later as a restaurant. It’s just a super cool place, and the meat is fantastic quality. Go here to buy meat to cook at home during the day, but come back at night to have some cooked up by the team here. They usually serve simple dishes with meat as the main star, but they also do some of the nicest vegetarian food – not what you’d expect from a butcher.’

60 Broadway Market, E8 4QJ. hillandszrok.co.uk

L’eau à La Bouche

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This unashamedly French deli-café always has a buzzy atmosphere, and if you manage to get a seat you’ll be greeted with incredible pastries, quiches, pies and all manner of culinary delights. If you’re in a rush, then the shop itself sells a lot of its creations to go, as well as a whole host of pantry staples, unusual ingredients and the finest French produce.

Peter says: ‘Great produce, fantastic coffee and pretty much everything you could ever want in a food shop. It might look a little bit shambolic inside, but it’s really cool and great fun to search through what they’ve got to find something really special. Make sure you stop in for something to eat, too – they do a great breakfast or brunch, with n’duja and honey or mushrooms on toast. They have a cheese stall on the market, too, and there are some really interesting French varieties.’

35-37 Broadway Market, E8 4PH. labouche.co.uk

Allpress

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Allpress is one of a group of fantastic coffee roasters based in and around Hackney (Peter also waxed lyrical about Climpsons and Caravan). They roast their own beans, which they say makes all the difference to their final product, and have been perfecting their signature Redchurch blend for over twenty years. Their latest café – housed in an old industrial building on Dalston Lane – is where you can get a cup of their beloved coffee made by accomplished baristas in a relaxed, beautifully designed setting.

Peter says: ‘Delicious coffee and I love that the cups feature artwork from this year’s Biennale in Venice. Morito and La Bouche stock Allpress coffee, and I really love Climpsons as well, but I just really like the vibe of this café – it’s quite bright and airy.’

55 Dalston Lane, E8 2NG. uk.allpressespresso.com

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