• Restaurants
  • Contemporary European
2 Love It
South Hackney

‘Yorkshire fettle, radicchio, grapefruit and fennel salad now on,’ chef Elliott Lidstone had tweeted. And what a treat: a salad that, as salads seldom do, seemed much more than the sum of its parts with grilled radicchio, pink grapefruit, wafer-thin fennel, plus tiny capers and parsley, and the more subtle British version of feta. Crisp slivers of pig’s ear with apple sauce was a world-beating bar snack to match the local beers on a terrific drinks list. Half a hollowed-out bone filled with snails, bone marrow, caramelised onions and pork was magnificent. Gorgeous guinea fowl on puy lentils with salsa verde, and trout with watercress, slivers of apple, celeriac and an English mustard sauce both packed in sensational combinations of tangy, salty, sharp, sweet, earthy, peppery flavours. Everything about this gloriously updated former corner pub is bang on, with proper linen napkins, only 50p per person for unlimited house bottled water and local bread, and meat supplied by the Ginger Pig across the road. Check out the Frugal Feasts and BYOB nights in collaboration with the neighbouring Bottle Apostle wine shop. No wonder the comfy red leather banquettes and squishy sofas are full of happy families, hipsters and anyone who appreciates what the eager and talented team have achieved. Very impressive.


Venue name: Empress
Address: 130 Lauriston Road
E9 7LH
Opening hours: Brunch served 10am-noon Sat, Sun. Lunch served noon-3.30pm Mon-Sat. Dinner served 6-10.30pm Mon-Sat. Meals served noon-9.30pm Sun
Transport: Tube: Mile End tube then bus 277 or 425
Price: Main courses £12-£17

Average User Rating

4.8 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:9
  • 4 star:0
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
1 person listening

Great food - great service - in fact I'd go so far as to say the best service I've ever had! Truly amazing food - fresh, seasonal vegetables well seasoned (didn't try the meat as I'm vegetarian). If I could afford it, I'd eat here at least a couple of times a week. I feel fortunate to have such a very special restaurant on my doorstep.


How can T.O give this less stars than the nearby Britannia? Food and service here both excellent - as your review suggests but not your rating. You need to revisit them both.

Little Miss G

Excellent Sunday lunch after walking in Vicky Park. I had roast pork belly and partner had roast beef - both first class. Chocolate mousse and home made (?) banana ice cream to follow. Very personable service. Liked


Having travelled up from Sussex to dine at The Empress last Friday it certainly lived up to expectations! The staff were friendly, welcoming and efficient, there was a real buzz about the place and, most of all, the food was varied, experimental and extremely tasty. We would highly recommend the mackeral with new potatoes, horseradish and beetroot! fab + the aubergine with tomato and fenel - perfect for veggies. The lamb was "melt in the mouth" . Several dishes were available in both starter and main sizes - to more chance to try different things! We will definitely be there again soon. Thanks to Elliott and the team for a true "dining" experience.

James B

Eaten here a few times in the last couple of weeks and the food has been fantastic each time. In my opinion it is rare to find a place with such consistently good food that you feel comfortable exploring dishes you might not otherwise try. Highly recommended.


Massive improvement since the change of management last year. Loved the pigs ears and rillettes, and the snails and bone marrow were to die for. All rounded off with the best panna cotta I've tasted outside of Italy. Not super cheap, but still very reasonably priced, and our American waitress was attentive, friendly and knowledgeable. They also have Camden Pale Ale on tap! What more could you ask for? Thoroughly recommend The Empress, and intend to make it a regular haunt from now on.


Very few places this smart allow dogs - but they do here and made a fuss of them too. Started meal with great bread and rilltettes and finished withdamn near perfect apple pie. Everything in between was also damn good Very good all round


Went here last Friday and was amazed. Really outstanding food at affordable prices. The cecina especially was exceptional, but really everything was excellent. Venetian lambs liver was soft and the onions with it caramelised to perfection. Gorgonzola and radicchio salad far better than most in Italy. And delicious desert wine and affogato to finish. Will be going back often.


I've had a mixed relationship with the Empress, being a Victoria Park local and wanting to love it but always struggling slightly with the food (I often found it greasy and overpriced). I was sad to visit it last weekend - my first visit since its rebirth - and find the interior stripped of all character and turned into a minimal gastropub. The decor and bar there before were unusual, but had lots of character. Now everything is grey and cream, the bar has been stripped right back and the menu completely renewed. I missed the excellent cocktails that the Empress used to have, but the new Spanish-style menu is interesting and I would happily try everything on it. I ordered lamb, and my vegetarian friend had crispy polenta with mushrooms and parmesan (there was only one veggie 'big plate' and a couple of smaller plates, so I'd recommend the Empress to the more carnivorous only). My lamb was delicious - perfectly cooked - and came with roast potatoes and kale. The potatoes were tasty but extremely hard (I was slightly worried that in the attempt to cut into them I was going to send them flying off onto another customer's lap!) and the kale was, well, kale. I was disappointed that for £12/14 all I got was kale (and not one or two more veg) but I can't fault the taste and texture of everything. Service was fine, but there were no condiments on the table and none were offered at any point throughout the meal. We were also served still water and bread as soon as we sat down - without being asked if we wanted it, so assuming this was complimentary - and then discovered that we'd been charged £1 for the privilege when we came to pay the bill. Not an astronomical charge by any means, but I do think water at least should be free, if not the bread too. The food was very well cooked and presented, and fairly priced, but it's not somewhere I'd rush back to. It's like the new management has brought in what the old management lacked - good food - but sacrificed the great cocktails and the character of the place. A shame, but somewhere I'll give another chance.


4 for dinner on Saturday night. New management seem to be making a good job of it. Food very much on a Spanish tip but done well. Tbone steak from Ginger Pig butcher according to the waitress and tasted like it! Little bored by the whole little plate thing but worked well as shared starters here. Good night out.