Jackdaw is about 10 minutes’ walk from Clapton train station in east London. When the name “Hackney” is mentioned to people images of burning buses, during the 2011 London riots, will most likely fill their minds . Luckily the area is slowly being gentrified and Jackdaw happened to be a hidden gem.
Although the red jackdaw signage is eye catching, the establishment is easy to miss. A quick peek inside through the glass windows would lead to assumptions that items such as burgers, ribs, fries and other greasy food are on the menu. Not so.
Inside, Christmas decorations were everywhere and kids were treated to Santa crackers.
Mid-afternoon, when we visited, it was very quiet and relaxed with Frank Sinatra singing in the background. In the evenings matters change dramatically. Downstairs, live performances take place and since it’s such a small venue, everyone basically has front row seats which creates a very intimate atmosphere. Music isn’t strictly limited to just jazz but a range of different genres, such as blues and funk, are also performed by various artists on different days. Upcoming performances are announced here.
Food-wise, you’re in for a treat. Think of it as Michelin-star quality minus the poppycock. I certainly didn’t miss the usual hushed atmosphere of upmarket restaurants, nor having to avoid clumsily messing on snow white table linen and awkwardly try to cover the aftermath with a napkin. I definitely didn’t miss the precise, over the top attentiveness of the waiting staff and best of all the prices aren’t eye-wateringly high – 5 courses for £35.
Here’s what we had.
Tenderstem broccoli curried buttermilk and smoked paprika.
Different gnocchi is served every week and this time round it was with chestnut, mushrooms, samphire and grated coconut.
Roasted king of Oyster mushrooms, white truffle custard, cavolo nero with sage butter topped with rump shavings.
Although there is no kids’ menu, the kitchen came up with this broccoli and cheese pasta dish in a jiffy.
As you can see the head chef, Joshua Dallaway, pours lot of love and attention in the food he prepares.
Panfried seabass, roast new potatoes with salsa verde and garlic froth.
Jackdaw is especially proud of the quality of produce used, such as the beef onglet. Local vendors are supported whenever possible.
Onglet with rainbow chard and carrots 5-ways: fermented, crisp, roasted, candied and pureed with cumin.
Carrot and squash cake with granola, nuts and yogurt sorbet.
I’m not going to bore you with poetic mumbo jumbo adjectives of the food, such as unctuous. Let the photos speak for themselves.
Jackdaw only opened its doors in August 2015 and is building a fan base for all the reasons above. It’s a family-run business that combines two of life’s biggest passions: food and music. Last year, I visited The Forge which is a very similar kind of a venue. But, oh my, Jackdaw is a million times better.
201 Lower Clapton Road
P.S. I was a guest of Jackdaw.