We’re not sure who Mick is, but we reckon he’s a hipster. In among the bars and breweries of Hackney Wick’s Queen’s Yard, Mick’s Garage delivers a street food-style market, open Friday to Sunday and with low-key decor and communal benches across two floors. But there are only three vendors in among the packing crates of this warehouse space; a coffee roaster, middle-eastern barbecue Shukshuk (from the very capable grillers of meat Berber and Q) and a bar run by Crate Brewery whose flagship is just across the car park.
To seal the hip deal, Crate’s bar, ‘Jarr’, specialises in kombucha, a sour drink of fermented tea popular in Australia and some nutty pockets of the US. There it’s known for its sour tang and (unsubstantiated) health-giving properties (which we overhear a fellow customer spouting to her poor, long-suffering friend). Here, it’s like drinking gone-off vinegar. Staff confess they haven’t quite nailed their brew yet.
Still, we persevere with the only cocktail of two available on the menu, a Junipepper Jarr (raspberry kombucha, gin, pink peppercorns, £8) and are surprised to find it tastes of very little at all. You’re best off sticking with Crate beer on tap while the folk at Jarr work on their Kombucha chemistry. Or, you know, pop over to Crate HQ instead.
Shukshuk serves a short menu of dishes similar to those sampled at Haggerston haven Berber & Q, but here the Levantine treats have a twist of the Deep South thanks to an old hickory smoker whose scent entices newcomers to the garage. So you can chow down on chicken shawarma (£8) – served as a whole tender thigh with delicious charred flesh – alongside smoked brisket (£12). The brisket was a touch on the dry side but had its glorious flavour intact, with a hint of allspice from that smoke. All dishes come the Middle Eastern way on fluffy flatbreads with harissa-soaked salad on the side.
DJs from Flamingo Pier add to the atmosphere, with one supplying hip hop and enthusiastic moves to a fairly disengaged audience of lost beer lovers. Then daylight brings a cluster of stalls selling overpriced (sorry, artisan) arts and crafts. Mick’s Garage suits the Hackney Wick scene to a tee. We just don’t think that scene needs fermented tea. Ever.