Rupert Hohwieler 18/01/23
Nest | Seasonal British Dining in Hackney
Nest is a produce-driven, seasonal small plates restaurant started by three long-time friends.
It is, of course, in Hackney.
Nest began when these friends – Johnnie Crowe, Luke Wasserman and Toby Neill – sat down and put their heads together, coming to the conclusion that they could run a pretty good restaurant together. They’ve since gone on to open the Michelin starred Restaurant St. Barts, so it seems that they were onto something…
Luke handles the floor and the drinks, Toby oversees the business side of the operation and Johnnie is in charge of what goes on in the kitchen (his previous cheffing experience includes stints at Michelin-starred pub The Harwood Arms and Anglo). For the aesthetic, they’ve drawn from the classic French bistro playbook with chalkboards, bentwood chairs, high shelves lined with bottles of wine and pot plants, and low lighting to create the mood. It’s not big either at seven small tables, so the action feels close-quartered and intimate. The goal at Nest is a simple one: serve exceptional food, obviously, but in terms of getting there, they deal only with top-quality British suppliers – think Shrub Provisions, Alternative Meats and Bello Wild – and make sure sustainability is always at fore when crafting the set menu.
As for that menu… it’s a set nine-courser and changes roughly every six weeks. You go with their flow (no bad thing) and for sustainability purposes there’s only ever one animal being prepped in the kitchen (rare breeds like game birds, rose veal and mangalitza pigs), which the team then build the menu around, dressing it up in all kinds of imaginative and thoroughly edible ways. Take Goosnargh duck for example: you might start with a palate warm-up in the smoked duck bone broth, before moving onto a duck liver parfait on malted oatcakes, and then upping the ante with duck leg & offal dumplings, crispy duck pie and barbecue duck breast with celeriac terrine and pear.
It’s not all about the meat though. The crew always throw in one or two seafood dishes to mix it up (say poached cod with a smoked mussel sauce, or confit pollock topped with crispy shoestring bits of squash) – seafood even has its own menu from January to February, alongside a random inclusion that merits all caps (DEVILLED EGG RAREBIT MUFFINS!). And once veggie season hits in late summer, the MO switches to inspired, foraged dishes like this ‘tagliatelle’, which is not the actual pasta, but strips of kohlrabi shaped so, with a creamy seaweed butter sauce. Lastly, if you’re up for it, you can also tack on a drinks pairing (£52); four glasses with the choice spanning from sparkling wine to wild cider and skin-contact oranges. These are on the same page as the food, all organic and low-intervention.
It would be a bit of a waste not to…
NOTE: Nest is open Tues-Fri 6-10pm and Saturday 12.30-3pm & 6-10pm. Bookings include a £100 deposit and you can make those on their website, here.
Nest | 177-179 Morning Lane, London E9 6LH
What else is there to eat in this part of town? Well… you’ve got all these great restaurants in East London
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177-179 Morning Lane, Hackney, E9 6LH
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