I’d read that Bistrotheque was the place to put east London on the brunch map which is ironic considering I walked past it three times before I found the entrance. A small alcove with festoon lights on a Hackney side street signals that this isn’t just any old building to be ignored by the general public, and once I peeked my head in I saw a tiny sign signalling I should take the two flights of narrow concrete stairs to my destination. As I got closer to, the low rumbling of conversation grew louder and as I pushed the door open, I was hit with the most exuberant and animated Saturday morning brunch crowd I’ve ever seen in London.
The open kitchen was buzzing, both tables and bar counter stools were full to the brim, and a pianist with purple hair was playing Notorious B.I.G. to muffle private conversations. A warehouse vibe that could have been lifted straight from Brooklyn, the clean white walls and tablecloths suggested elegance; the eclectic and varied crowd knocked any pretentious inklings out of the lightly frosted windows and said that this was a place for everyone.
I did the classic brunch bundle of water, coffee and cocktail (if you don’t have three drinks it’s basically just breakfast, right?!), the latter being a Peach Whisky Smash which is arguably the easiest way to drink a whisky, and I challenge anyone who isn’t a fan of the spirit to say they still don’t like it when mixed with red peach, mint and peach bitters (unless you’re the maid in Parasite, in which case, stay away).
I avoided being thrown into a spiral of indecision by being my 100% Virgo self and looking up the menu as soon as we booked two weeks before. My food was a no-brainer as soon as I read the menu two weeks before going (on-the-spot ordering throws me into a spiral of indecision): the soft shell crab benedict was all I could think about in the run up to our reservation.
Deep fried in an thin, crispy batter and free of any oily residue, the crab had the texture I’d expect from a baja fish taco, but the crab meat itself was much softer. Sat atop a lightly toasted English muffin, it was topped with two perfectly poached eggs and covered in buttery and silky hollandaise with a gentle but fiery chilli kick.
You can easily judge a restaurant by the quality of its side dishes and I was stuck between about five options, until fate saw fit to serve hash browns to the table next to me and it was a done deal. I split two sides with my friend: a saucer of creamy wilted spinach and the aforementioned hash browns, or as they shall forever be known, ‘The Best Hash Browns You’ll Ever Eat’. The crab benedict was sublime, but these hash browns. These are what is going to get me booking another table at Bistrotheque under the guise of wanting to try more of the menu. Because variety is a damn lie, all I want is THOSE hash browns.
No gimmicks, no 30th birthdays only there for the bottomless prosecco (that wasn’t even an option FYI), just a chilled ambience and quality food – two simple, but difficult things to find in London and which really put Bistrotheque in a league of its own.
The essential bits
Find it at: Bistrotheque, 23–27 Wadeson St, London E2 9DR
Drinks 1x oat milk flat white, 1x flat white, 1x peach whisky smash cocktail, 1x yakohamo mocktail, 1x bottle of still water
Food 1x soft shell crab benedict, 1x eggs florentine, 1x side of spinach, 1x side of hash browns
TOTAL PRICE: £54.80