Things To Do

Jason Allen 08/08/17

The Institute of Light

People who visit Hackney’s Institute of Light are full of BS.

That is to say, they’re full of food from Billy Smokes, who’ve just launched their residency at the famed East London creative space. But just who are the Institute of Light, you ask? And for that matter, this BS fellow? Well…


Housed in the beautiful railway arches in London Fields, the Iol is a collaborative, creative space packing a cinema (they show everything from Taxi Driver to Dunkirk, and they have sofas), a vinyl record store, a music & photography bookshop, a cafe, and a restaurant. Which brings us neatly to,


The man. The myth. The legend. Will Griffiths is many things, but a person with the name “Billy Smokes” he is not. Instead, he hangs that moniker on the BBQ popup he founded, and for which he cooks a menu including the likes of sweet-cured house bacon with pineapple & chilli ketchup; smoked pork buns with citrus slaw & house bbq; chilli cheese grits with beef cheeks; and beef fat-roasted new potatoes with burnt romanesco & shallots.

Of course, the Iol would be pretty flush-cheeked if it had all those wonderful bells and whistles and didn’t have a cocktail bar, so you’ll be happy to know that you can wash your ‘Smokes meal down with a mixed drink. You’ll find a mint-infused Whiskey Smash, a classic Sazerac, and curry leaf-laden Curried Gin Rickey.

Perfect for a Light meal.


NOTE: Billy Smokes has now left the Institute of Light. Luckily, he’s popped straight over to the Howling Hops Brewery in Hackney Wick, where you can still sample his delicious barbecuery.

The Institute of Light | 376 Helmsley Pl, E8 3SB

If you’re in London Fields and want some meat… you can always check out Hill & Szrok too.

The Institute of Light

376 Helmsley Place, London Fields, E8 3SB

020 7249 6919