Sourdough pizza places, craft beer pubs and organic cafés are ten a penny in Hackney these days, but French-style bistro-cum-cafés? Nope. In this new Mare Street fixture you’ll find baskets filled with crusty baguettes and a sprinkling of other elements befitting a French eatery, but the overall vibe is decidedly East End thanks to exposed brickwork and second-hand tables.
By day, there’s a handful of simple café dishes to choose from – omelettes, croque monsieurs, gratins. By night there’s a role-call of keenly priced classics such as snails steeped in garlic butter, coq au vin or a generous heap of rillettes with cornichon and sourdough toast. When it comes to another mainstay of the cheap French restaurant, steak-frites, there’s a huge difference between a good one and a bad one, and here it was underwhelming. Chunky chips were no better than the quality of bought-in versions, while the steak, though cooked à la point, was under seasoned. A rich crème caramel with just the right balance in the bitter and sweet sauce put things back on track though.