Anthony Lyon has teamed up with former Adam Handling Group sommelier Kelvin McCabe for his second restaurant project, which turns out to be more inclusive than its name (which hints at a degree of exclusivity) and hipster central postcode might suggest.
Moments from Hackney Downs Overground, Hackney Coterie is a cavernous restaurant, wine bar and wine shop that feels tailor made for post-pandemic dining with its plentiful outdoor seating, strong neighbourhood vibe and multifaceted offer (it also sells coffee and freshly-baked bread).
The Dalston Lane site is sister restaurant to Lyon’s Seafood & Wine Bar, the ‘nose to fin’ seafood spot that Lyon launched in Crouch End towards the end of 2019 to considerable acclaim.
Lyon moved from South Africa to the UK some 20 years ago and has held top front of house roles within some of London’s best known and busiest restaurants including HIX Soho, Roka Charlotte Street and The Wolseley.
But Lyon’s Seafood & Wine Bar has more of an indie spirit than its owner’s CV might suggest, with a carefully-choreographed distressed aesthetic and top quality, distinctive food (it chalked up a glowing review from Jay Rayner last year).
Within the space that was one home to Borough Wine’s L’Entrepôt, Hackney Coterie is a much bigger project than Lyon’s Seafood & Wine Bar, with room for around 100 covers on the ground floor, a large terrace and a subterranean events space that has yet to open. The design celebrates the industrial origins of the building to create a ‘warehouse brasserie’ that is ‘modern and honest’ with exposed brick walls, polished concrete floors, and fittings largely sourced from reclamation yards and vintage stores.
Lyon’s Seafood & Wine Bar is far from being a formal affair, but in step with its hip east London location Hackney Coterie is more laid back still. Former Scully and Hide chef Dominic Auger heads the fully open kitchen (rather oddly, the loos are accessed by walking straight up to the pass and hanging a left).
His fish-focused menu isn’t too dissimilar to Lyon’s Seafood & Wine Bar, though, with a comparable layout, pricing structure and dishes that have ‘a minimal waste focus’. This latter policy was clearly in evidence on our visit, with high-quality farmed salmon used throughout the menu - the skin served as a snack with a smoked tofu dip; its soy-cured head chargrilled and served with gochujang and fermented apricot; and its dry-aged steaks partnered with sambal salad and burnt lime.
Other dishes include charred hispi with dashi ketchup and shrimp candy floss; cured pork belly with Kisaichi-pickled watermelon and smoked tofu; and burnt butter set custard, fennel sable, sour cream and nettle power.
Auger gravitates to big Asian flavours, but understands them and therefore knows how to keep them in check. Overall the food is a lot more balanced and nuanced than the menu descriptions might suggest and is perfectly in step with McCabe’s wine list, which is big on biodynamic, organic, and minimal intervention wines.
So far, so Hackney. But McCabe - whose impressive CV also includes head sommelier of Zuma and Roka - isn’t a fan of excessive funk and is more than happy to list things that are more ‘classic’ in style so long as they cut the mustard. There are over 100 references, and prices are typically accessible due to McCabe’s policy of seeking out lesser-known producers and styles.
This increasingly desirable pocket of Hackney has a reputation for being self-consciously hip, but Lyon and McCabe’s high levels of experience and professionalism mark Hackney Coterie out as a place that's not solely for east London locals.
230 Dalston Ln, London E8 1LA