9:05 AM March 15, 2022
It’s easy to underestimate the joys of a tasting menu.
Small dishes? Lots of courses? Flavors you would never pick a La carte? High price?
But a good tasting menu makes for a beautiful night. And Hackney Coterie serves up a beautiful tasting menu.
At £ 35 for a meat or fish five-course meal and £ 30 for the vegetarian version, it’s not a cheap night out, but it is far, far from the top of London’s price list. The quality, though, deserves a place at the top table.
Next to Hackney Downs station, Hackney Coterie’s room feels relaxed and the service is attentive but informal.
Course one on the day we visited may seem a hurdle for some diners, but fish crackling with smoked tofu dip is something everyone should try (other than stricter vegetarians than me – potato skins with fermented tomato powder is the veggie option). The fishy-ness gets overpowering and is offset nicely by the mellow dip.
A thousand layered Szechuan potatoes is an extravagant name for a potato dish, but the flavor can’t be knocked, and charred leeks with horseradish and garlic butter milk is just a delicious flavcom.
Succulent venison was the main course, with mushroom ketchup, fermented Jerusalem artichoke crisps and venison jus. There’s a lot going on there but it made for an exciting mix. The meat was excellent and the jus and ketchup worked well.
Pescatarian and vegetarian options on the night were roasted sea bass and roasted cauliflower, with different gravy and veg combinations.
The prominence of celeriac on modern menus sometimes gets mocked but here it’s saved for desert, and is wonderful.
What we’re served is “fermented celeriac barbara with malted cream and smoked porter syrup” and what we get is a light, sweet cake with a delicious cream on top. It’s unfussy and deceptively simple looking.
A tasting menu is a wonderful thing, and this is the perfect venue for a relaxed meal, discovering new flavors. Its reputation can only grow.