Max Rocha was born into the world of fashion.
The son to legendary Irish designer John Rocha, and brother to designer Simone Rocha, his path seemed pretty clear. Recklessly defying fate, instead, he chose his true passion: the music industry. But after a few years of managing bands & artists, and wading through the cynical swamp underpinning the industry, he realised that he was having a mental breakdown. So he moved onto his other true passion: food. And finally, this one stuck.
Working his way up the kitchen ladder, impressed at Skye Gyngell’s Spring, blew everyone’s socks off at The River Cafe, nailed it at St John Bread & Wine , and now he has his own place, Café Cecilia.
And true to form, it’s both extremely fashionable and it’s got great music, too.
You’ll find it next to the canal in Hackney, just off Broadway Market. And you will have to find it, the only evidence that it’s there is a faint logo etched into the window. Inside, it’s got the deceptively simple aesthetic that’s actually quite hard to pull off, much like the perfect “no effort” hairstyle. White walls and dark furnishings are punctuated by black & white portrait photographs, but it nevertheless doesn’t seem monochromatic. If anything, it feels relaxed, convivial, and comfortable.
The food menu skips nimbly across its various Irish & Italian influences (courtesy of both the River Cafe and Rocha’s Irish ancestry). And aside fro being split into two parts culturally, it’s split into two parts literally too, with a main menu equally matched by an ever-changing specials board. On any given day you might find delicate sage & anchovy fritti, or some seabass carpaccio with lemon & dill, or perhaps a hearty pork & apricot terrine, all finished off with some Guinness bread ice cream, or a hunk of deep fried bread & butter pudding with cold custard.
And it’ll all be served to you in a waiter or waitress clothed in a particularly snappy uniform.
Designed by Max’s sister, no less.
NOTE: Cafe Cecilia is open now. You can find out more, and make a booking at the website right HERE.
Cafe Cecilia | Canal Place, 32 Andrews Road, Hackney, E8 4FX
While you’re in the area… here are the other best restaurants in East London
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