There are very few things more risky than not taking any risks at all.
So, in a way, Oded Oren is playing it very, very safe.
Because he’s just opened his own debut restaurant – Oren – and he’s funding the entire operation himself. Of course, that means he’s able to deliver the food precisely as he likes it, and that food impressed Jay Rayner so much at one of his sell-out residencies that he described one dish as “verging on genius”.
The venue he’s chosen is in Dalston, just off Kingsland High Street, in a petite space that used to be a brasserie named Floyd’s. It’s still petite, holding just 35 diners when it’s heaving, but he’s completely refitted the decor: the dining area is now hued in understated orange & grey tones, and corked at the top with a gleaming metal bar.
The food, like Oren’s heritage, hails from Israel, but adds a few influences from the rest of the Middle East too. Dishes start with the likes of burnt aubergines with tahini from Mount Gerizim (it’s literally where the Good Samaritan came from); and baked hispi cabbage with a vibrant romesco sauce.
Going slightly larger, there’s the self-describing brill tartare with raw courgettes & Kurdish-style laben kishk cheese; a melt-in-the-mouth ox cheek layed on a bed of hummus; a whole grilled lemon sole with Kalamata olives; and a hefty Tamworth pork chop with preserved lemon & hasted garlic. Nothing’s over £20, and you can finish it all with a cardamom panna cotta with lemon verbena, or some strawberry & lemon sorbet (just £2.50).
If you fancy propping yourself up at the bar you can explore the wines of offer, which have all been curated by Zeren Wilson (whose CV includes Bib Gourmand winner Kiln, and its older sibling Smoking Goat). It’s short, punchy, and features smaller growers, and biodynamic vineyards as well as a frequently changing ‘guest wine’ spot, which you can always go for blind…
…if you feel like taking a risk.
NOTE: Oren is open daily for dinner (closed on Monday), with brunch on weekends. You can make a booking, see the menu, and find out more on the website here.
Oren | 89 Shacklewell Lane, Hackney, E8 2EB
Last updated: 27th July 2020