Pidgin in Hackney (just down the road from Violet Bakery) is exactly my kind of restaurant. I’m about as unfussy an eater as you can get (essentially, I’ll eat anything), so the fact that only 1 set menu of 4 courses is offered doesn’t faze me at all. In fact, I love it! The lack of choice takes away any dilemma in deciding what to order, and I find it a lot of fun to take a step out of my comfort zone and try dishes I may not normally order (although, if you do have any dietary requirements, I believe the restaurant is very accommodating and offers great alternatives, as long as you let them know in advance). Both the food and drink menus at Pidgin are highly seasonal and change weekly. It’s a good job I don’t live in Hackney, as otherwise I’d be wanting to go every week!
I’d first spied Pidgin when I went to interview Cressida Bell at her studio (and of course had to stop off at Violet for some tea and cake after). I thought it looked just my kind of place, so was delighted when Mum and I were in Hackney again the other week and were able to stop by Pidgin for lunch. The restaurant is tiny, but charming, situated on my favourite of Hackney roads – Wilton Way.
The little bar is the perfect place to pop by for a great cocktail if you’re in a celebratory mood one evening, and on a sunny (warm) day, it would be very tempting to grab one of the little tables outside and watch the world go by. As it was freezing cold, we settled for a table inside, right next to the window and excitedly perused the menu.
All my favourite restaurants always seem to have their menus printed elegantly on little sheets clipped to a board – not that I’m complaining! It makes it easy to photograph them and thus easy to remember what I’ve eaten!
We started things off with some drinks. Mum went for the PT no G mocktail, which she said was very refreshing, and I plumped for the Nanu Nanu which was delicious.
As I said, the menu at Pidgin is very straight forward, so we were left to simply sit back, relax, chat and wait for each course to appear. To start, an oyster with burnt cucumber tzatziki, roe and cucumber ash:
The flavours were phenomenal and the oyster was the perfect accompaniment as I finished off my cocktail.
Next up, a homemade pasta dish with lamb. The waiter brought a glass of something ‘smooth and light’ for me and ‘more robust’ for Mum. Both reds were fantastic and suited our tastes exactly.
There’s nothing quite like fresh, homemade pasta. I polished off every bite of this dish, but that didn’t stop me from looking forward to the next course: quail with smoked pearl barley, mushroom, Jerusalem artichoke, kale and shaved truffle – exquisite!
I was getting pretty full by this point, but of course managed to squeeze in dessert! This was the most unusual – but one of the best – desserts I’ve ever had. Sage gelato, with burnt bread and white chocolate sounds a bit of an unlikely combination, but it was incredible. Accompanied with a glass of bubbly sweet wine that tasted of strawberries & cream, I was in a sweet tooth’s heaven!
Amazingly, we had a little more sweetness still in store: homemade coconut marshmallows served alongside complimentary limoncello shots.
This place is definitely one of my very top favourite restaurant discoveries of 2015. I think what makes the restaurant truly special is the daring flavour combinations that work together so seamlessly. The menu is excellent value too at £35 for the 4 courses, and I can’t wait to go back again soon to try the latest on offer! Pidgin only opened in July, and I hope it goes from strength to strength – it certainly deserves a lot of success.
52 Wilton Way, E8 1BG
020 7254 8311
Have you been to Pidgin? What were your favourite restaurants of 2015?