It doesn’t look like much from outside, perched on the corner where Mare Street bridges Regents Canal with patchy paint work and battered shutters.
But that didn’t seem to put anyone off this really excellent little Hackney bistro in the two years I lived opposite it and that shows no sign of changing.
In the summer, people-watching patrons and the walking hungover drench themselves in sunshine on tables in the street, in winter they’re steaming up the windows eating, drinking, reading papers and catching up over a cosy breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Catching foot traffic mooching down to Broadway market of a weekend, as well as a strong following of faithful regulars, Hackney Bureau is always full of people.
This is not because of marketing or kitchen gimmicks; it just has really good food with high-quality ingredients and creative combinations, the people are friendly and it won’t snap your wallet in half.
I can now report the breakfast is as excellent as it looked and is also reasonable – most things on the menu are around £7 or so.
I tried the smoked salmon omelette, a gorgeous plateful of creamy eggs and fat ribbons of pink smoked fish. The mustard in the salmon dressing was a great touch, with is sharpness cutting through the rich flavours of the omelette and lightening each mouthful.
We also tried the veggie breakfast, with some good poached eggs, a Glamorgan sausage, bubble-and-squeak-type rosti and a fat green perfectly ripened avocado to keep it light. The porridge and berries looked a good bet too had the previous night’s tequila been more of a distant memory.
I’ve had some excellent dinners at the Hackney Bureau in the past. The menu, which changes fairly frequently, is seasonal European; there are only ever a couple of options on it and they’re usually all good.
They’ve had some great stuff recently – salads made from earthy winter veg like squash and beetroot with chicory and parmesan, or duck with plum jam or rabbit leg with parma ham and polenta.
Worth ringing ahead to check elbow room and opening times – it’s popular for a reason.
Hackney Bureau, 3 Mare Street, E8 4RP
020 8533 6083