The Empress Restaurant Review: Great British Food in Hackney

Feb 26

the empress of india, british food, victoria park village, hackney

Formerly known as The Empress of India, The Empress got rid of its far eastern suffix when new owners took over 2 years ago. You’ll find it on Lauriston road in Hackney, nestled on the edge of Victoria Park amongst the cluster of kitsch cafes and gastro pubs that include The Lauriston and The Royal Inn on the Park.

Inside, the decor has been thought about, but not so much so that the walls are more fashionable than you are. As you walk in, you’ll see people perched around a well stocked bar and low hanging lights over tables. Wooden floor boards, comfy leather sofas and vintage posters complete the look. The place is modern and stylish, but still relaxed and welcoming.

After being shown to our table, we were brought water, bread and the menus. The menu isn’t vast, which is always a good sign, and offers up seasonal, British fare in interesting ways. There’s pigs ear crisps and apple sauce to pollack, salsify & cracked wheat. We started with goats cheese, beetroot & hazelnuts and the signature snails and bone marrow. The goat’s cheese was soft and loose with an almost ricotta-like consistency and worked beautifully with the yellow beetroot and crunch of the hazelnuts. It’s the second time I’ve visited The Empress and the second time I’ve ordered the snails. They’re cooked in a rich garlic, red wine and shallot reduction and taste divine.

My main course was duck breast served on a bed of soy & honey marinated celeriac with wilted pak choi and braised strips of carrot. The sweetness of the honey and carrot worked really well with the pleasingly pink duck and toasted sesame seeds finished it all off. Desert was delicious too. Rhubarb bakewell tart with stewed rhubarb and ice cream.

The service was great – informative but not fussy and we were recommended a delicious red wine from the extensive list.

The Empress have lots of great offers on too. On Monday’s you can get a selected main course and glass of wine/beer for £10 and on Tuesdays The Empress is BYO from the Bottle Apostle booze shop across the road.

The Empress is one of my favourite local restaurants in Hackney. A small expert menu showcasing the best of seasonal, British food, an extensive wine list and a relaxed yet informed approach to service. Thumbs up.

Three courses and wine for 2 cost £90.

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