Worth the detour: Mayfields, Wilton Way
If you’re not familiar with London Hackney sounds a heck of a long way to go for dinner. But believe me Mayfields is worth it.
And it’s actually not that far. Take the Victoria Line to Highbury & Islington, change onto the overground, a couple of stops to Hackney Central and walk 7-8 minutes. Or jump on one of the many buses that pass nearby*
When you see the restaurant you might not think it’s that special. It's really quite small, more like a café or a chic Parisian restaurant that only insiders know about. The menu’s short too but interesting - REALLY interesting. It’s hard to make a decision about what to eat - always a good sign.
How to describe the food? It’s hard to pin down. Some Asian influences, some Italian ones - if I had to choose one word to describe it it would be bold. Big flavours, no shrinking from offbeat combinations or unusual tastes and textures.
We ordered a number of small plates which came in random and not totally logical order - a feature that will no doubt irritate some who like meals to proceed in a more orderly fashion. I don’t mind, myself.
Barely cooked mackerel and squid come in a vivid green watercress sauce. Fine silken slices of scarlet venison carpaccio with an intriguingly smoky flavour are anointed with grated horseradish, perched on rough sourdough toast and cubes of pear.
A brilliant veggie dish of salty monk’s beard (almost like samphire) is partnered with earthy sweet turnip, mealy beans and bottarga. Super-fresh dab tempura with dashi. Incredibly rare, almost raw duck breast with Jerusalem artichoke, carrot and rhubarb is the only dish that doesn’t quite work. Too rare, even for me.
We have to have the chocolate mousse and kaffir lime ice cream which is even better than it sounds - a smooth, warm, velvety chocolate goo, with the fragrant ice-cream melting over it. But the cheese isn’t too shabby either. A really well chosen Abondance and Cathare goats cheese - the former particularly good with a Jura Chardonnay.
The list which is put together by Borough Wines opposite will make anyone who’s into organic and biodynamic wines very happy. Everything is available by the glass. As well as the Jura (Philippe Vandelle’s Blanc l’Etoile) we had a glass of crisp, refreshing St Esteve Blanc de Blancs sparkling ugni from the Luberon (£6.50 a glass), a glass of Thierry Germain’s ‘Soliterre’ Chenin (£6.25), good with practically everything but the duck, and shared a glass of Chateau des Moriers Moulin à Vent Beaujolais (£6.75). It’s a rewardingly offbeat list.
If you don’t go mad you could get away with around £25 on food and £14 for wine a head, so just over £40 with service which is more than fair for an exhilaratingly good meal. I just wish it was on my doorstep but even if it isn’t on yours, go. Go ...
Mayfields is at 52 Wilton Way, London E8 6GG. Tel: 020 7254 8311. The menu changes regularly so you may get offered something quite different - but hopefully that kaffir lime ice cream.
For a full list of buses see the Find us page of the website
I ate at Mayfields as a guest of the restaurant.
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