LONDON Hackney Under the Spotlight, London’s Hippest Neighborhood

While once renowned for its rhyming slang and traditional pubs, East London has evolved into London’s hippest district, thanks to its proximity to the City, relatively affordable rents, and dynamic restaurant and nightlife culture. We sit down with restauranter James Ramsden to uncover why Londoners have fallen so in love with the East.

LONDON

Hackney Under the Spotlight, London’s Hippest Neighborhood

While once renowned for its rhyming slang and traditional pubs, East London has evolved into London’s hippest district, thanks to its proximity to the City, relatively affordable rents, and dynamic restaurant and nightlife culture. We sit down with restauranter James Ramsden to uncover why Londoners have fallen so in love with the East.

Hackney,  London

While it was once Notting and Primrose Hill that carried the kudos of cool, these days the action (and celebrities) are moving East. “Gentrification is such a hot topic in London” explains James Ramsden, co-owner of restaurant Pidgin London, “and nowhere more so than here in Hackney”. The neighbourhood’s rise is a strong example of how quickly London’s property scene can evolve, driven by such competitive pricing that the frontiers for first-time buyers are forever expanding in search of a savvy investment. With property prices averaging £682,000 and an annual growth rate of 10.8%, it remains among the strongest growth areas of all prime boroughs in London and an attractive investment opportunity.  Pidgin London, a contemporary British restaurant that opened mid 2015, is one of the newest arrivals on the streets of Hackney. 

Bona-fide foodies, amateur chefs and jocular podcast hosts, James Ramsden and Sam Herlihy embarked on this venture off the back of The Secret Larder’s success, a supperclub started in James’ living room. Favoring front of house to the heat of the kitchen, they recruited an exciting and experimental chef with a flair for modern British and Asian flavors - 27 year old Elizabeth Allen. Pidgin’s philosophy strives to recreate the informality of a supper club with the prowess of a professional kitchen. With a weekly changing, set four course menu, this wonderfully convivial, intimate neighborhood restaurant in Hackney has cracked the magic formula of success - perhaps thanks to their homebrew ‘Pidgincello’, a complimentary aperitif of vodka, lemon and herbs served after dinner.

Why did you choose to open Pidgin in Hackney?

Can I say because it’s close to home?” jokes James.  “The space was on a site of a restaurant we used to love but it closed. Initially we were considering somewhere more central, but it is incredibly expensive, especially for first-timers. Then someone suggested Wilton Way and it just made sense in terms of space and affordability. It is a really lovely street; quiet and charming, while only one block from Hackney’s main thoroughfare. There is a real buzz in the area, with independent shops popping up, a vibrant food scene driven by some of London’s top restaurants and the famous Broadway market

What do you love most about this neighbourhood?

Nearby Victoria Park and London Fields are the perfect day out with my wife, 1 year old son and trusty Dachshund,” explains James. Hackney is considered one of the greenest boroughs in the city, thanks to its acres of green parks and canals, yet it’s close enough to Central London that you can get there in less than 30 minutes. “There are amazing cafes, restaurants, bars, Regents Canal, markets, and culture. It’s a village culture within the heart of the capital. To tell you a secret, I haven’t left this postcode in two weeks

How has this neighbourhood changed in recent years?

Of course a lot has changed, the streets were pretty rough here 10 years ago, but now artists, foodies, and creatives (old and young alike) are drawn to the area for its community vibes and affordable real estate. They injected life into the area through co-working spaces and incubators, like the new Hackney Fashion Hub, an incubator for independent fashion brands.

Stay tuned for next week, when we delve into James Ramsden’s black-book on the spots not to miss for an East London experience.


Pidgin London, 52 Wilton Way, Hackney. E8 1BG
020 7254 8311
www.pidginlondon.com
www.jamesramsden.com
www.thekitchenisonfire.com
 
Food photos: Steele Haigh
Restaurant photo: Vivi Pham
 

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