If you live in Hackney, you probably know Morning Lane as ‘that one with a fucking massive Tesco on it’. If you live elsewhere, your insight might be less precise: ‘That curvy bit off Mare Street that sort of leads to Victoria Park.’
But Morning Lane is far more than Mare Street’s twistier, quieter sibling. Among other upmarket boutiques, it’s recently become home to Hackney Walk: a ‘luxury outlet district’ that’s attempting to push the area as a fashion hub. It’s a funny fate for such an unassuming street – if not an unfamiliar one these days in this part of London.
In fact, if you’re up for an argument, you could claim that Morning Lane is a microcosm of modern, part-gentrified Hackney: a mishmash of old and new, longtime locals and new residents, with caffs, butchers and even flats and houses with actual people living in them sitting next to pop-ups, chic eateries and cocktail bars. (And if you find yourself in one of those bars, raise a tom collins to Joseph Priestley, who invented soda water and was part of the congregation at the former Old Gravel Pit Chapel here.)
No, Morning Lane isn’t the prettiest bit of Hackney, or even the coolest. But it still feels like a real place, albeit one with some real smart places to scoff, swig and shop.
Fried ‘chicken’ made from seitan (wheat gluten) at vegan junk food joint Temple of Hackney. It’s way tastier than it sounds (and surprisingly chicken-like), as evidenced by the frequent queues.
A ‘Mindless Brunch’ at wine bar and restaurant Farley Macallan, with unlimited bellinis or bloody marys for an hour. Stopwatches at the ready!
Fancy small plates at cool, contemporary venue Legs, where the food is imaginative but not silly and the wine list is short but stellar.
Yet more small plates at newish joint Silver Lining. Try the jerk scotch egg.
Exotic teas at quiet café Brew for Two, the sort of place that’s crying out to be lounged around in. Bring a book and a few spare hours.
Experimental booze at cosy cocktail bar Every Cloud. The atmosphere is buzzy, service is friendly and the creative concoctions are perfectly pitched.
Normal, non-crafty pints at The Globe in Morning Lane: a proper, local boozer that’s dodged gentrification and hosts live jazz every Sunday.
Splash some cash at the designer outlets crammed into Hackney Walk, where you can get hefty discounts off high-end garms.
Unleash your inner design guru at Stitch Academy, which runs varied fashion workshops and provides industry training for the local community.
A packet of strong java from Dark Arts Coffee: a roastery in a railway arch on Ponsford Street, just off Morning Lane. The in-house café I Will Kill Again does a banging vegan brunch too.
Vintage threads and handcrafted jewellery at The Hackney Shop, a pop-up hosting local designers.
Cheap clobber from events space The Box on Ram Place. It hosts frequent sample sales teeming with goodies from big names and hip labels.
And if you only do one thing…
Dance at sparkly venue Moth Club (technically on neighbouring Valette Street). Still a working club for ex-servicemen, it also hosts alt bands, kooky parties, quizzes and bingo nights.