When I tell people where I live, I get two reactions, the first is a kind of guarded horror, quickly followed by a concerned question about where my kids go to school (the really good local ones, FYI!) and the second will involve a long conversation about an amazing cafe, market or gallery or people we know in common. Hackney may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I can honestly say I wouldn’t live anywhere else.
Over the last few years the area has been alive with new businesses popping up in the most unexpected locations, run by creative young entrepreneurs who have seen the recession as an opportunity to create something new. Micro breweries, bakeries, restaurants and bars feature homes grown, seasonal produce and locally sourced ingredients, made and sold in previously disused spaces, in run down areas. It seems everywhere you turn an old warehouse or factory has been turned into a cafe/bar/event space.
Hackney is filled with creative sorts who work “work from home” and need to get out and about during the day and these laid back cafes provide the perfect place to meet up with other freelance friends, or to re-locate your office to for the afternoon.
This week I visited two new ventures L’Entrepot and The Russet, which are hidden away in deepest Hackney Downs, an area not usually known for its culinary delights.
L’Entrepot is situated right next to Hackney Downs overground station, in an old railway engineers shed, next to Dalston Heights (don’t you just love that name) a warehouse used for location shoots. It’s owned by the people behind Borough wines which started seven years ago as a stall on Broadway Market to promote the wine of Chateau Ponchapt, the family’s vineyard in Bergerac. They now have a shop in Wilton Way, E8 and a stall at Borough Market.
The Russet is tucked away in an area off Amhurst Road E8, full of small industrial units and artists studios. From the outside it looks like just another factory, but after entering the small nondescript wooden door you are transported into a space that wouldn’t be out of place in Williamsburg or Brooklyn.
The sprawling old warehouse serves breakfast and lunch and they have just introduced a Sunday lunch menu. They also host exhibitions and events and the space is available for hire. The daily specials and home made cakes are delicious and I loved their home brewed Dalston Cola and Raw Fiyah Ginger Beer.
Best of all, both L’Entrepot and The Russet positively welcome dogs.