A new Hawaiian-themed restaurant and bar from the team behind Duke’s Brew & Que who are bringing Pacific cuisine to Dalston.
Pond considers itself a forerunner of the ‘New Hawaiian Cuisine’ wave in London, a trend which, if it’s anything like this Dalston bar and restaurant, will lap meekly on the sand rather than rolling magnificently along the foreshore. In a city where we’re not especially familiar with Old Hawaiian cuisine, opening a place like this is a brave step – more so given that it’s hidden away down an alley off one of Dalston’s edgier squares.
The sizeable former industrial premises have been given an appealing makeover, with metal-framed lighting rigs, lots of leather booth seating and a very smart and long bar. On the evidence of our two visits, the bar is the place to be.
The cocktails we tried were great, with a tropical twist that stopped long before the kitsch clichés of tiki. The Luscious Lanai (£9) was a blend of pineapple sorbet melted into the glass with prosecco, and the awkwardly named Kamm On Baby Light My Fire (£9) mixed Kamm & Sons ginseng spirit with pisco, fresh lime and tiki bitters.
While the low lighting in the bar may work for some, in the dining area you’ll need to use your phone screen to illuminate the menu – though being able to read ‘wahi inu lama pu pu’ probably sheds no further light.
The menu lists vaguely Hawaiian dishes – Hawaiian food itself a mishmash of American fast food and Japanese influences with a smattering of Polynesian ingredients. The best dish was the deep-fried ‘chips’ of Spam (really), with a crisp coat and fatty interior. Poke is the Hawaiian name for a diced salad, which might include tuna or beef; the poke dish here called ‘bulgogie’ was a beef stir-fry, vaguely resembling the Korean dish of the same name. The Pond lau lau (£18.50) comprised fish and pork steamed in a tough leaf; the pork in ours contained offputting gristle.
Our advice is say aloha (‘hello’) to the bar, where you can admire the ambition of this enterprise; but then say aloha (the second time means ‘goodbye’) to the restaurant and its equally ambitious pricing.
Reviewed by Guy Dimond