Sager & Wilde
Sometimes only a good glass of wine will fix things ( and that sometimes being usually an especially stressful mid week day at work) and Sager & Wilde is the place to enjoy exactly that. Unlike Paris, London unfortunately doesn't have a lot of wine bars, places you can settle down without having to commit to an entire meal, instead being able simply pick a tipple from an array of different wine types. Sager & Wilde have nailed exactly this gap in the market with their bar on Hackney road (and they have just opened another one called Mission 2 focusing on Californian wine). Wine is around £6 a glass and expertly chosen, hey their white wine even converted me and I usually think all whites taste like vinegar! Whether you take a seat along their beautiful wooden bar or in warmer weathers perch on one of their small tables outside and watch East London life go by, Sager & Wilde has already become a regularly hang out spot of mine and has rescued more than one gloomy day already!
Sông Quê Cafe
Living literally opposite the "Pho mile" that is Kingsland road I have slowly tried my way through all the Vietnamese establishments that line the street. Sông Quê is arguably the most famous and well regarded of them and after thorough research in the form of many lazy Sunday takeaways I can confirm that it is indeed also my favourite! The interior might be far from sleek but the queues that form outside almost every evening for many, many years and the amazing food I have had on every occasion are testimony that good restaurants don't always have to look "hip" or come with a concept other than to serve authentic and great dishes! If you go order a variation of their Bún, vermicelli noodles with lemon grass, crushed peanuts, chilli sauce and your choice of topping, traditionally pork but they also do an amazing prawn and tofu version. It's full of flavours yet so so fresh and light and a real pleasure to eat every time. Another winner are the aubergines in garlic sauce as are all the vegetable side dishes that could easily make a good main dish. I am very lucky to call this my local takeaway and can only recommend this to anyone that not only enjoys the Vietnamese cuisine but wants Asian fare without the grease!
Dead Dolls Club
Floyds on Shacklewell Lane
Eating out healthily can be pretty tough. Yes, there is a plethora of burger joints, restaurants specialising in fried chicken and of course pizza places around but finding somewhere that serves light, seasonal and still delicious dishes at decent price is far from easy. It might not look like much, simple wood panelling, tables and chairs, and isn't in the most obvious of locations down Shacklewell Lane in Dalston but Floyd's is one of those hidden little neighbour hood restaurants that manages to do exactly that. With a menu that changes regularly to reflect what produce is available and as many vegetarian as none vegetarian options on their short menu, every time I have been I've been surprised by the finesse in flavour in each dish. Their courgettini with mushrooms, rocket and garlic tastes better than most carby pasta alternatives and their home cured salmon with beetroot puree was zingy, fresh and full of flavour! Prices are very reasonable ( mains around £12, starters around £7) and you can rock up really whenever you want and get a table, something you can't say about most of the overhyped and by far not as good restaurants in London. A little gem worth discovering.