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The Laughing Heart

Restaurants, Global Bethnal Green
4 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(1user review)

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Trendy late-night wine bar with intriguing small plates.

We couldn’t get over the custom-made tables at The Laughing Heart: they came with adorable personal cutlery drawers. It’s just one example of the attention to detail at this foodie wine bar on Hackney Road. The mezzanine above a cave-of-wonders wine shop is flawlessly chic, with rows of blue-grey tables either side of a counter glistening with glasses. The buzzy open-plan kitchen triggered the smoke alarm and everyone chuckled, such was the bonhomie. Perhaps the epic wine list helped – a tome that opens with a Keats poem and goes on to list drops from lesser-known vineyards. All organic, all fantastic – little surprise that owner Charlie Mellor earned his stripes front of house at P Franco and Brawn.

With such a pared-back look, bold modern-European plates peppered with Asian flavours came as a surprise, and some dishes challenge as much as delight. The Basque cheesecake is baked firm and charred at the edges; it’s not sweet, there’s no base, and it’s about texture as much as flavour. Equally intriguing were chicken hearts and sprouts draped in a web of lardo. Don’t be afraid; a sharp, sweet dressing cut through the iron-rich, chilli-flecked offal.

Elsewhere, baguette slathered with salty, whipped brown crab butter may be the best way to kick off any meal (next time, I won’t be sharing); and venison pappardelle was close to perfection – its ragu slightly lacked intensity, but the silky pasta ribbons had a chewy breadcrumb crunch.

We were at a table next to Mellor’s proud mother, who clearly knew her wine, while a young couple nearby chatted tannins. There’s a lot of love in the room, for the wine and for the operation. Others weren’t quite as taken with those cutlery drawers. I should probably get out more, and thanks to The Laughing Heart, it looks like I will.


Address: 277 Hackney Road
E2 8NA
Transport: Hoxton Overground
Price: Dinner for two with drinks and service: around £100.
Opening hours: Mon-Tue closed, Wed-Sat 7pm-2am, midday-late.
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Users say (1)

4 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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1 person listening

I visited this wine bar/restaurant on a Sunday for lunch recently. The menu on Sundays is different to during the week, because they offer a set menu Chinese banquet for £30 a head. The menu has five courses, which I gather generally consist of a dumpling course, a fish course, a meat course (we had pork belly), seasonal greens, and a dessert. The quality of the food when we visited was excellent, and we asked the owner to recommend an interesting mid-range white wine, which came to £46 a bottle. There is a wine store underneath which sells an interesting selection of mid to high end wines, and is open late evenings. We were impressed with our experience and would be interested to try the menu during the week. The only point to note would be that it is slightly on the expensive side for food and wine, but then, you do get what you pay for. A welcome addition to the area.

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