What: An ambitious new 46-cover restaurant in Hackney Wick.
Who: Tom Brown, a protégé of two Michelin-starred seafood specialist Nathan Outlaw. Originally from Cornwall, Brown worked for Rick Stein and Paul Ripley before taking a job with Outlaw at the St Enodoc Hotel in Rock. There he enjoyed a swift rise through the ranks and – after three years – was tasked with running Outlaw’s Michein-starred London outpost. He left last year but remains on great terms with Outlaw.
The vibe: Located moments from Hackney Wick station, Cornerstone is a 46-cover whitewashed space that’s full of natural light thanks to a sweeping glass frontage and a brace of skylights. Brown jokes that you can tell the restaurant was designed by a chef: his open kitchen is located slap bang in the middle of the dining room and dominates the space. The look of the place – apparently inspired by the likes of St John and Lyle’s – is accurately described as minimalist, elegant and informal.
The food: Kinda small plates, but Brown isn’t a fan of that tag preferring to describe the offering as an unstructured tasting menu. The way in which the food is served is actually reminiscent of Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen in Port Isaac – a succession of smallish, high-impact plates that are constructed with sharing in mind. Brown is a skilful cook. His light, produce-led style is influenced by his time with Outlaw. Dishes are priced between £8 and £14 and roughly four are recommended per person.
On the menu: The launch menu includes the likes of pickled oyster with celery, horseradish and dill; cured brill with grapes, almond, sherry vinegar; beef tartare with Cornish seaweed and mushroom salad; Cornish hake with café de Paris hollandaise; and rhubarb crumble with ginger bread and clotted cream.
And another thing: Those expecting a painfully East London experience can breathe a sigh of relief. He may have sleeve tats, but Brown is no hipster (he did, after all, name his restaurant after a favourite Arctic Monkeys song rather than an obscure Swedish jazz record). Despite being located in trendy Hackney Wick and majoring on low intervention wines, his debut restaurant is encouragingly normal in feel.