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Restaurant Review: Ellory, London E8

This Michelin-starred newcomer from Jack Lewens and Ed Thaw boasts a daily-changing menu of pared-back British cuisine and an artfully curated wine list 

East London is a postcode that never sleeps and over the past few years, London Fields and its surrounding roads have woken up with a bounty of new bars and restaurants, polishing Hackney’s reputation as a top food and drink destination.

Ellory is a crowning jewel on London Field’s culinary crown, or should that be crowning star – the modern restaurant was awarded its first Michelin star last year, achieved within a year of opening.

It is the brainchild of sommeliers Jack Lewens (formerly of The River Café, Quo Vadis and Spring) and Ed Thaw (Sager + Wilde), with food from chef Sam Kamienko (Mayfields, Anchor and Hope, Le Verre Volé). Its moniker stems from Ellery, an old English name meaning joy and happiness.

The restaurant is located on the ground floor of Hackney’s Netil House, a multi-faceted creative incubator made up of studios, eateries, two bars and a weekly market. Like many of its neighbours, Ellory buzzes at every hour of the day and on a Saturday evening at 6pm, it is already bustling. My friend I prop up at the marble bar top; the ideal people-watching perch, from which you can also see the best of the bartender’s alchemy as he spins cocktails and pours from the 50-strong wine list.

Each glass of wine comes with a story tale, as we gleefully travel round Europe via Lewen’s expert pairings and lively narrative

We choose an assortment of sharing dishes from a concise, seasonal menu. A smoked trout entree with horseradish on rye cracker is swallowed in seconds, followed by pickled herring nestled under vibrant discs of beetroot, flecked with parmesan and capers. Succulent Jerusalem artichokes are tossed with creamy goats curd and piquant blood orange, swimming in a juicy bath of deft flavours. Next, soft, fluffy salt cod brandade is crowned with silky monks beard and grated bottarga (salted fish roe). Clever, unexpected flavours that segue harmoniously from one course to the next, presented with elegance, minus the pomp. A light and simple rhubarb and custard finishes the meal, trading crumble for crispy biscuit shards.

Let Lewen lead your wine selection, picking from an exclusively European list that changes daily to match the ebb and flow of the menu. “We like to celebrate the diversity that exists in wine,” he explains. “There are so many regions across Europe producing terrific wines with indigenous grape varieties, it seems a missed opportunity to only sell wines from the more well-known grapes and appellations. Also, the lesser known regions can offer exceptional value which makes it a win-win.” Each glass comes with a story tale, as we gleefully travel round Europe via Lewen’s expert pairings and lively narrative.  

Fine food and wine is served within an informal atmosphere, set against an industrial backdrop of concrete floors, whitewashed walls, bare lightbulbs and Bentwood chairs, tempered by hanging plants and floor-to-ceiling windows. This is pared-back Hackney minimalism at its finest, warmed by an upbeat, young clientele and cheerful service.

Ellory is a Michelin-starred tasting menu, but it is also wine and sharing plates. It is date night and it is drop-in; a local hangout and a destination restaurant, which lives up to its name and more. 

1 Westgate Street, London E8 3RL, www.ellorylondon.com