Hackney-based garden designer and foodie, Miria Harris,
gives her take on the Chick 'n' Sours, Gujarati Rasoi and the Marksman
Chick ’n’ Sours
390 Kingsland Road, E8 4AA
Rating: 4 star
Located at the top end of Kingsland Road near the junction with Englefield Road, this popular haunt hits the spot when it comes to high-end fried chicken – if that’s a thing . . . We stopped by as a random after-school treat (for treat read: I realised on the way home that the fridge was empty).
We got there early without a booking, but despite being told they were fully booked, the manager got sucked in by our sad eyes and found us a table. Straight away we were offered two kid-friendly meals, which was brilliant because I’m not sure my children would have coped with all the different flavours going on in the main menu.
I ordered a K-Bop Sandwich (£12) and Green Slaw (£4) with some Sriracha Sour Cream dip, so I could justify stealing my kids’ chips. The K-Bop, described as Korean Fried Thigh, Gochujang Mayo, Chilli Vinegar and Asian ‘Slaw, is an epic chicken burger. I’m quite fond of Korean flavours and this was a very flavoursome dish, held together in the softest of brioche buns. The Green Slaw was the perfect accompaniment to the richness of the sandwich, with the sweetness of the thinly sliced sugar snap peas and red onion cut through with the acidity of a spritely lime kosho dressing.
At Chick ’n’ Sours, though, it’s not just the chicken, but the Sours that appeal. It may be a concept hook (chicken – eggs – egg white – sours) but maybe that doesn’t matter when they are this tasty. I had a Pink Elephant (£7) – easy on the vodka because it was a school night. It was the most drink-easy alcopop of a cocktail, but then with banana, pineapple, pomegranate and citrus mixed in, why was I surprised? Next time I’ll come back on the weekend.
10c Bradbury Sreet, N16 8JN
Rating: 4 star
If you’re a regular at Borough Market or Broadway Market, you may have, like me, become addicted to Gujarati Rasoi’s samosas. They are every kind of eats good, not just looks good. Crisp on the outside, sweet, spicy and aromatic on the inside – just what you want and no meat in sight.
So, to the restaurant then. Surely this would just take the love affair onto another plane? Located on Bradbury Street, it is in the heart of Dalston and all the buzz that comes with that. The menu is entirely vegetarian with many vegan and gluten-free options on offer, and we found it hard not to order everything. We started off sharing some Kachori (£6), which are savoury pastry balls filled with crushed peas and cooked with a whole host of herbs and spices, from mustard seed and chilli to fresh coriander and lemon juice. This was the ideal zingy way to kickstart dinner and our taste buds.
We resisted over-indulging in the starters and went swiftly to the mains. We shared Ringan Ne Guvar Fali (£13) – a delicious aubergine and guvar bean dish made with onion and tomato, and tempered with ajwain, sesame, ginger and chilli – and Palak, Kanda Ne Paneer (£13) – the most heavenly spinach paneer cooked with cumin, chilli, ginger, onions and peanuts. These dishes were cooled down with Raita (£2) – cucumber and yoghurt – and mopped up with Methi Na Thepla (£5) – flatbreads – and Bhat (£3.50) – cumin-infused basmati rice. These most delectable side dishes didn’t just complement the meal, they completed it.To finish, we couldn’t resist finding room for some Chai and Pista Kulfi (£5.50 each) and made a mental note to save more space for dessert next time. I thought we would miss not having the samosas, but everything we ate was so good that we forgot why we had gone there in the first place.
254 Hackney Road, E2 7SJ
Rating: 5 star
My favourite weekend lunch venue is The Marksman on Hackney Road, not for Sunday lunch as is so often talked about, but for Saturday lunch, which gives the best edible snapshot of what The Marksman has to offer. A food-focussed public house and dining room, The Marksman downstairs is like the most perfect kind of old man’s pub – not too hip, but no musty smell either.
Upstairs, on the other hand, is a totally different aesthetic beast. Beautifully designed and made by Hackney-based Italian designer Martino Gamper, it’s more of an intimate setting, where you can have a conversation without shouting and you don’t have to bustle past people to place your order at the bar (not that you have to do this downstairs either, as it’s table service there, too).
Saturday lunch is a set menu – two courses for £20 or three courses for £30, which is amazingly good value for such mouth-watering food. We started off with some Black Treacle Sourdough Bread and butter – the bread is so good we often get a loaf to take home with us. We couldn’t resist trying the Curried Lamb Bun and Salt Lime Yoghurt, the next evolution of the Marksman bun magic that started with the celebrated Beef and Barley Bun. The Curried Bun was next-level tasty. But the star of the show was a Pheasant, Leek and Tarragon pie. Slightly gamey, but not overly so, we managed to pass it off as chicken to the kids, who helped us devour it and with whom we fought over the crusts. A true test of a really great pie!
Despite eating way more than we intended, we still found space for Quince Sorbet, which was the perfect finale to the indulgence of everything that had gone before – light, citrusy and not too sweet, it was a delicious palate cleanser at the end of the meal, rather than at the start. And to walk it off, we wandered down Columbia Road, browsing the many shops that you can’t easily access on Sundays when the flower market is on.