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Five Restaurants to Try This Weekend

Including al fresco aperitivo near Columbia Road, Japanese set lunches in Camden, and a brand new beer den with filled pitas in Clapton

Ɛ́lα at St. John at Hackney Brewery
St John at Hackney Brewery [Official Photo]


In the last few years, Camden has quietly turned into a small hub for the Japanese community, with the more established Asakusa joined by Seto (a ramen and gyoza specialist) Sushi Waka and YoKoya (one of the few genuine London izakayas). Best of all is Shimogamo, a low-key restaurant at the top of Parkway that feels like it’s been transplanted straight out of Kyoto. Dinner is a more inventive (and expensive) affair but the best thing here is teishoku, single-course set lunches where the main and sides are all served simultaneously. What sets it apart is the care and craft that has gone into each minute part, from the depth of flavour of the miso soup to the variety of house-made pickles, and that the kitchen nails everything it tries. Tempura batter is filigree and greaseless, sashimi displays impeccable sourcing and knife work, and the deep-fried karaage almost feels like it’s healthy. But the very best part? Few dishes go above the £12 mark, a steal in a city where value is so often hard to find. —Jonathan Nunn
108 Parkway, Camden Town, NW1 7AN

St John at Hackney Brewery

Have a literal piss-up in a brewery at east London’s newest “taproom.” Located in a converted railway arch in Hackney (of course, where else?), St John at Hackney Brewery is (nothing to do with St. John but) an ideal place to while away a sunny afternoon (PSA there’s a massive beer garden). Choose from 11 lagers, ales and stouts on tap, from a citrus IPA to a mouth-puckering blueberry sour number and sessionable pilsner. There’s also Greek-Cypriot food on offer from Ɛ́lα in the form of divine kebabs and silky baba ganoush. With plans in the pipeline to support community projects with St John at Hackney church, right now there aren’t many better places to spend those pay day pounds on a pint. —Daisy Meager
16 Bohemia Place, London E8 1DU


Campania, on Ezra Street, set just back from the picturesque Columbia Road in east London, is a real contender for the most enjoyable place in London to enjoy al fresco aperitivo. Which is to say: One of the finest places in the city to feel like you’re on the backstreets of an Italian city instead. This brick-built collection of small rooms and a courtyard is a cracking shout for hand-made pasta (gnudi with sage and Parmesan, tagliatelle with lamb ragu), generous meat and seafood secondi, including orata with two giant grilled prawns and salsa verde; and no-messing tiramisù. Although the obvious time to visit Columbia Road and its small tributary streets is on Sundays when the flower market arrives, its likely to be quieter at other times this weekend. Arrive early for a spot on the terrace, or late — for a quiet, candlelit table at the back, inside. —Adam Coghlan
23 Ezra Street, E2 7RH


This eclectic, ramshackle Hackney cafe / bar / co-working space could easily be peak hipster with its mismatch furniture and “creative hub” label, but it’s not self conscious, and the staff is excellent, where the food is simple and delicious. On one mezzanine is a hairdresser, the other has an area to work, and in the evenings Hatch puts on events, such as live music (or currently, the World Cup). But really, expect anything: From actors running lines over a flat white or a couple having a boozy brunch. The menu is predominantly vegetarian, with all the classic brunch offerings — including eggs and avocado — but the flavourful halloumi wrap is the perfect stomach-filling, hangover cure. —Anna Sulan Masing
Unit G2, 8 Mackintosh Lane, E9 2AB


The surfeit of excellent restaurants on Harringay’s Green Lanes makes it the perfect place for a weekend, whether a debauched evening or a lunchtime stroll up towards Finsbury Park. But where to go if — bewilderingly, it must be said — ocakbasi don’t fit the vibe? Unassuming bar Brouhaha could provide the answer, with a homely and ramshackle roof terrace complementing a more honed, roughly cool downstairs. House cocktails are elegant and witty, Monkey in a Bottle a highlight, and if hungry, Kata Japanese Kitchen turns out serviceable udon and katsu, as well as edamame and gyoza for an obligatory nibble. Return to the happy grill-smoke rabble, whether in search of charry delights or no: from one brouhaha to another. —James Hansen
501 Green Lanes, Harringay, N4 1AL

St. John

26 Saint John Street, , England EC1M 4AY 020 7251 0848 Visit Website


23 Ezra Street, , England E2 7RH 020 7613 0015 Visit Website


94 Lamb's Conduit Street, , England WC1N 3LZ 020 7405 0713 Visit Website