Pidgin: clever, cosmopolitan cooking in Hackney

The restaurant scene in London’s East End has gone from strength to strength in recent years. In the 9 years I’ve been a local here, I’ve seen an increasing number of fantastic eateries blossom in the neighbourhood. Adding to that growing list is the terrific Pidginlocated on Hackney’s Wilton Way.

Pidgin is the brainchild of James Ramsden & Sam Herlihy who used to run the The Secret Larder Supper Club. This is their first permanent venture after several years of pop-ups under their belts. Fans of their previous events will find some remnants of the good ol’ Supper Club ethos here. The 4-course, no choice, £37 menu here changes weekly, as does the short but well-curated drinks list. Their cosy, 24-cover restaurant also has a wonderfully convivial feel not too dissimilar to that of a pop-up. Where they’ve upped their game from the Supper Club days however is in the kitchen, drafting in the very talented Elizabeth Allen to lead the brigade.

I’m not going to go too much into the details of all the dishes we had. After all, with a weekly changing menu, what we had is unlikely going to be what you will have. Rest assured, what did come out of the kitchen though was the product of a very capable team that’s already firing on all cylinders despite being less than a year old.

Take their Kentucky Fried Rabbit main dish for instance. The batter was air-light and crisp. The rabbit meat was properly succulent. The vadouvan foam and koji mustard added complexity. To top it all off, there was the sweet, tangy carrot ketchup which cut through all the flavours beautifully. An ingenious play on KFC and seriously finger licking good stuff I could wallop by the bucket!

All in all, we couldn’t fault any of the courses from start to finish. I particularly loved how seamlessly ingredients and influences from all around the world were brought together. By the end of the meal, it felt that we had globe-trotted from Piedmont to Norway to North America & back, sampling Agnolotti, Gjetost & Root Beer along the way! It was great to see some properly generous portions throughout as well, especially when it came to the main course and pudding.

The food here at Pidgin is everything I love about Hackney’s increasingly vibrant dining scene. It’s creative. It’s cosmopolitan. It’s gorgeously presented. And most importantly, utterly scrumptious. With a no choice set menu, this is never going to be a place for fussy eaters. But if you are open to being fed anything and everything that comes out of Pidgin’s clever kitchen, expect some good times ahead. A must visit and easily a contender for one of the best meals I’ve had this year so far.

G.

52 Wilton Way, Hackney, London E8 1BG | www.pidginlondon.com

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