A tiny restaurant and wine bar in Hackney’s fashion district.
Don’t like wine? Don’t worry. Legs, despite the in-joke-for-oenophiles name (the ‘legs’ are the vinous streaks down the inside of your glass), is so much more than a neighbourhood wine bar. It’s also a terrific place to eat, with a compact menu of small plates, each more brilliant than the last. At the helm is heavily tattoed, blonde-hair-pulled-into-a-scruffy-ponytail Magnus Reid: more surfer dude than chef and owner. If you can, sit one of the four stools of the ‘kitchen bar’, and ask for advice on the short but appealing wine list – his laid-back appearance belies the extent of his expertise and enthusiasm – then watch him work.
Every dish is a delightful tumble of texture and taste: superficially simple but using bold, bright combinations that elevate them well past the ordinary. The peas – fat, fresh garden beauties over a verdant purée – shimmer alongside roasted pistachios, while extra depth comes from a parmesan nut butter and a final flurry of finely grated extra cheese that settles, like fresh snow, for a fleeting moment before melting away. There was a bowl of crunchy deep-fried potatoes with a foamy, crème fraîche with faintly chivey notes (it’s actually puréed burnt scallions), a hint of salt from plump pearls of cod roe and pepper from nasturtium leaves. It’s pretty much a signature dish: do order it.
But the stand-out dish of the night – perhaps because it was during that rarest of British things, a balmy summer’s eve – was a dessert billed merely as ‘melon, olive oil, salt’. Cubes of gleaming, intensely sweet, intensely cold honeydew melon drizzled with a fruity, fragrant olive oil (thus bringing out the melon’s flavour), rock salt (ditto that) and shavings of glacial melon granita. Who knew melon could be this good? I mean, seriously. Who knew?
But the charm of Legs isn’t limited to the food, the sense of community (with locals waving as they walk past) or even the cuteness of the bright little 24-seat space (14 of which are at counters). The final nod goes to the staff, who, when they’re not poking fun at each other’s music tastes (the soundtrack is a shared playlist: anything goes), come fizzing with passion for the food and a genuine love for their customers.
120-122 Morning Lane
|Transport:||Hackney Central Overground|
|Price:||Dinner for two with drinks and service: around £85.|
|Do you own this business?|