Created with flickr slideshow.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Netil Market - London Fields Brewery - Cock Tavern - Crate Brewery - Smokey Tails - Urban Sessions - Street Feast

Saturday 10th July - Hackney is far away.  Now this wouldn't be a problem except that a lot of the best markets, micro breweries and bars seem to be operating slightly closer to E8 than SW11.  Whilst I love the Overground, I can't keep making the 1hr20 round trip to Dalston every few days.  This left me with one option - Team List does (a fair amount of) Hackney in one epic Saturday.


Will Team List end up like this lost Hackney hipster? 
11am - I trekked over to Hoxton and walked up Hackney Road towards Broadway Market, nearly stopping at Beagle and several other places (too early for Liquor Cabinet?) for coffee en route.  Local Olly wasn't quite ready to head out so he invited me upstairs for a sausage sandwich (watch it), an offer I couldn't refuse.  Satisfied (not like that), we hit the streets and wandered up through Broadway Market making the most of free samples on offer.  We passed several places of interest - e.g. Stories, Fin and Flounder, F.Cooke's Pie Mash and Eel shop (cocktail popup ending there soon) - but pushed on to the school yard market round the corner where we discovered The Gay Farmer (olive oil) and Pretty Delicious (edible flowers), both pictured below.

Surprisingly tasty!
Good in cocktails apparently
12pm - T.Rex and Henry (of Team Bermondsey) were meant to overlap at this point, but they were running late, so Olly had to leave me on my own as we got to Netil Market.  I entertained myself at the Full Stop Shirts stand where I bought a couple of tees for £25 - they have recently launched their first line, but they can also custom make you a tshirt with your own list of words on if you so wish.  Catch them at Netil Market, and occasionally Brick Lane on Sundays, or just get in touch on their website.

Winners and bras.
Just as I sat down with a tasty cup of Joe's Tea Earl Grey from the Terrone coffee stand, I received a friendly tweet from blogger and Hackney local Louis (who runs the excellent Tuck and Vine site) to say that he was also at Netil Market.  Now, I haven't met anyone who I only know from Twitter before, so this felt a bit like a blind date.  "I'm wearing a black tshirt, and I'm on a bench drinking a cup of tea", I said.  Not too flirty?  Then I started looking around, hoping that he wasn't the enormous man dribbling down his jacket, taking photos of food.  Luckily this was not Louis, who rocked up a minute later with his girlfriend Amy, and was a good laugh.  We engaged in some foodie/drinkie chat for a while until Team Bermondsey arrived, looking slightly out of place in their York City football shirts.  They needed feeding so I pointed them in the direction of BAO (a six seater bar serving steamed buns with yummy fillings) and Lucky Chip (burger legends and owners of Licky Chop down the road).

Henry trying to recreate BAO's appealing logo
T.Rex foolishly trying to fit Kevin Bacon in his mouth 
One side of Netil Market has been taken over by Portside Cabana - a pop-up chillout rum bar from the owners of nearby Portside Parlour (read about that here).  We weren't quite in the mood for Pina Coladas yet, so we went for three Kernel IPAs (you can take the boys out of Bermondsey...) and settled in to some deck chairs.  Well, Tom and I settled in, whereas Henry crashed right through his:

One BAO bun too many for Henry
1pm - T.Rex and Henry had to head off to watch York City fairly sharpish, leaving me alone again as my planned overlap with Lauren also failed.  Just as they were leaving, the only wasp in England decided to sting me in the neck.  The Portside Cabana crew, already familiar with me from Henry's chair breaking antics, got all motherly and gave me some ice to put on it.  Wasp(s) aside, it's a lovely venue, and is only open for one more weekend.  Head down there this Saturday and Sunday from 12-7 to drink the shed dry with cheap deals on most drinks.  I was mightily impressed with the tiny Netil Market, who somehow manage to cram some of the best street food, coffee, cocktails and stalls into a very small space.



1.30pm - Lauren eventually turned up and we wandered off to find the Speck Mobile that I had spotted at London Fields Brewery round the corner.  Lauren is a big Speck Mobile fan because of her Austrian ski season days, and is always delighted to find them.  They are authentic Austrians, and were as friendly as ever, even giving Lauren a free ticket (usually £22) to the upcoming Foodies Feast in Battersea Park with her giant schnitzel sandwich.  We didn't continue in to the main brewery arches (The Brewhouse) as there was a ticketed music festival going on that day.  London Fields Brewery have great events on all the time so keep checking their website - Backyard Cinema are showing films there all this weekend, and the Grand Finale of the British Craft Beer Challenge takes place there on 7-8 September. Ticketless, we went to find the nearby London Fields Brewery Tap Room which opens at midday every Saturday and Sunday.




2.30pm - Here we collected the rest of the core team for the day - Lee and Jane (more strong performers from Bermondsey), and List Leader Natalie (keeping Lauren at bay in 2nd place).  We drank our way through several fresh beers - Love Not War, Shoreditch Triangle IPA, Hackney Hopster, Wheat Beer and several more were on tap.  The IPA and Love Not War stood out for me, but they don't quite reach the heights achieved by Kernel and friends in Bermondsey (read more on those microbreweries here).  It's a cosy little bar, with interesting food on offer, occasional live jazz, and views into one of the brewing rooms.

First brewed during the London riots
3.30pm - We moved on, with plenty of stops still to go, and briefly popped our heads into The Pit festival site next door.  They have a lovely set up, with a very chilled covered outdoor area for unplugged gigs, surrounded by bars and food, plus a courtyard with more street food and games.  It was a bit quiet when we turned up so we didn't stay, but I can imagine it being very pleasant in the evenings.


Instead, we pushed on towards The Cock Tavern, home to Howling Hops beer, as recommended to me by Hackney expert Louis earlier on.  We skipped by Licky Chop and Coppa Rooftop - they will both have to wait for another time - and reached the pub next to Hackney Wick station, not far from Hackney Empire. We were greeted by a very witty barman who warned us not to smack our heads on the far wall of the beer garden as we entered it, as it is on the small side ("The Smallest Beer Garden in London" - quite a claim). Instead we stayed inside, and sat down next to an odd bit of wall which could be swung open from the waist down.  Howling Hops make a wide range of beers for this pub, though we were quite unlucky to have only 4 available.  There were plenty of other interesting beers on tap, including offerings from Kernel and Cronx.  The Howling Hops Pale was the pick of the bunch, and I hope to come across more of their beers in the future.



5pm - With plenty of energy still in reserve, we hopped on the Overground to Hackney Wick to try out 3 places in the area.  First up, the Crate Brewery and Pizzeria, which is open from 9am-11pm every day.  I was glad to have Lee leading the way, past an odd graffiti artist, through some industrial estates, to the canal. If you don't have Lee, follow the hipsters.

NO SPIRITS
It is attractively situated canal-side in a former print factory that they have stylishly converted with reclaimed materials from around the wick.  They offer 5 of their own beers, plus other favourites of their choice, alongside a really tempting pizza menu.  It is best enjoyed on a sunny day when you can sit outside next to the canal for a spot of Hackney hipster watching.  If you are there early you can get yourself on to the boat table, which I think belongs to Crate.  Less wonderful are the unisex toilets which never work out well for the men (too slow) or the women (too messy).  Crate is also the pickup point for a ridiculous Gin on a Speedboat experience from Butlers Gin, which takes place on Saturdays and Sundays - read more here.




6.30pm - Hunger was starting to set in again, so we decided to move on to Smokey Tails, a  new pop-up hangout on the canal serving smoked (Ginger Pig) meats, hearty salads and cocktails, open from Thursday to Sunday at the moment.  Finding this one involved passing the strange graffiti man again, who seemed to have made his display worse, and following some more hipsters.  They have designed it beautifully, even down to the toilet cubicles (are you listening Crate?) which each have a framed picture of a smartly dressed animal inside (points for anyone who tells me what is in number 3).  The picturesque bar contrasts in an oddly pleasing way with the industrial wasteland on the other side of the canal.  



Cocktails were impressive, and the cheerful barmaid generously gave us a taster of the drinkable Butler's gin. The website says that they will have independent guest ales on offer too - when we went there were only cans of Hobo Craft Lager, but hopefully they will add something else soon if they can.  Perhaps Crate can throw a couple of kegs their way.  The food was also enjoyable - ribs, wings, pulled pork, fresh herb tabbouleh with feta and toasted walnuts, chilli and coriander marinated aubergines, tomatoes with roasted red peppers, and mac'n'cheese all disappeared rapidly, and we didn't have any space for tasty sounding desserts.  Well worth a visit especially if you live nearby, and the weather is behaving itself!

UPDATE - Smokey Tails now has a permanent spot near Haggerston Overground - open Thu-Sun.


8pm - In true List style, we soldiered on to yet another place, supposedly our last, following closely in the footsteps of hipsters that we had been stalking all evening.  A few minutes from Smokey Tails and Crate is Urban Sessions, a spacious temporary beer bar ("The largest in East London") that is open 6 days a week (not Tuesdays) until the 31st October.  They have got a wonderful selection of beer from UK and across the globe, a relaxing outdoor space complete with street food vendors, and DJs ready to go inside, but sadly hardly any visitors!  Perhaps 3 hip places is just too many for Hackney Wick, but I really expected more people to turn up on a Saturday night.  Nevertheless, there was enough atmosphere outside, especially as two uber hipsters set up shop in the corner with their acoustic guitars.  There is also a free to use tarmac football pitch on site, which I would definitely frequent if I lived locally.


The beers are sold using a 1/3 pint tokens, which initially seem expensive, but are in fact pretty good value when you buy them in bulk and get your fair share of strong beers.  With everything at the same price, it feels easier to go around trying beers, safe in the knowledge that you just need to hand over one token each time. The bars are split into different sections - UK, America, Italy, Germany, Belgium etc plus a cider stall, and an area for cocktails (with beer cocktails on offer).  The American and Belgian beers offer the best value for money - Flying Dog ales always go down well.  It may well get busier on their brilliant sounding Honest Brew nights - live 3-hour brewing sessions with Honest Brew and guest breweries, with Beer SommeAleier and International Beer Judge Melissa Cole present.  Budding home brewers are also invited to bring in their own beer to be tasted by Melissa and the other experienced brewers in the room, which is a huge opportunity to get feedback from the very best.  The next session is on 28th August and you can get tickets here.


9pm - Flatmate Maggie, who was scheduled to join us at about 2pm, eventually turned up at about 9pm (impressively coming all the way from SW14 to E9 for a couple of hours) and gobbled up the spare token and another 1/3 pint before we decided to leave.  We decided to break up our journey home by stopping off very briefly at the new Street Feast site in Dalston.  I'm so glad that we did, because it is simply stunning. The two photos below don't even begin to convey the beautiful lighting and atmosphere that they have created in Dalston Yard.  If you haven't been to Street Feast before, it is a street food market, best experienced at night, that distances itself from others by getting only the best food and drink, and creating beautiful sites.  I was a big fan of their last space (read more here) and I was happy to see a new Gin Store tucked away (down Gin Lane!), though I'm not sure it quite beats the previous incarnation, hidden upstairs in Merchant Yard.


We arrived pretty late, so a lot had sold out, but Lee and Jane grabbed some Seychelles street food from Vinn Goute, and a generous member of staff behind the Rotary BBQ passed some food my way as they were packing up.  Mamas Jerk, Breddos Tacos, You Doughnut and others were also there but shutting up shop.  We got hold of some fresh Meantime beer, and a few glasses of red from Street Vin.  I just wanted to walk around and take in the atmosphere.  It was buzzing, and felt like it could stay open all night - surely the next step for these guys?  I urge you to make the journey across London (the Overground is your friend) to try it out - they are open on Friday evenings and Saturdays, when there are often special one off events run by the Tweat Up gang.  I already have my next visit lined up for National Burger Day on the 27th August, but I will definitely try and make it over for another Friday evening before they move on.  


Just as we were going to get our train, we were offered heavily discounted frozen margaritas which were too good to turn down.  Sadly, they are impossible to speed drink without getting brain freeze so we had to leave half of them behind.  Maggie and I sped all the way home to Battersea, where we unnecessarily ate some pasta and pesto to make up for not being able to get Mamas Jerk plantain fries, and ended the perfect hipster day watching the first ever episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  The wasp sting had all but gone away, or was that just the booze?

I have written this in time for the weekend in the hope that some of you might be inspired to head to Street Feast tonight, and also make it out to Netil Market and beyond tomorrow.  Don't forget, Portside Cabana is only open for this weekend, and Backyard Cinema are showing some great films outdoors at London Fields Brewery.  Huge thanks to Team List, Louis, Amy and the Portside Cabana staff in particular for a great day out. Please feel free leave comments, especially if you attempt a similarly ridiculous excursion!

Square Meal

No comments:

Post a Comment