Here east at Hackney Wick might not be the most convenient location for Sunday brunches, but judging by the crowds of people visiting Shanes on Canalside and nearby restaurants, this is the place to visit for a relaxing, peaceful stroll and brunch on the weekends. There were plenty of joggers along the canal and families with prams or dogs parked outside the terraces.
Is Shanes on Canalside the best restaurant at Here east? That I can’t comment, given I haven’t tried all the restaurants there, but they are undoubtedly the most ethical. You wouldn’t have expected anything less coming from a New Zealand owner who is just as passionate about the environment as his love of cooking.
With an abundance of natural sunlight, earthy wooden panels and hanging plants, this is as welcoming a dining space as you will find on this side of London. There is a spacious open kitchen at the back for those interested in the thrills and spills backstage.
There was a surprise at the limited vegetarian options on the menu, however, the quinoa salad was the perfect showcase of the wild foraged ingredients with a beautiful forest of broccoli, rocket, beetroot, wild garlic, fennel, oxeye, roast squash, parsnip and pickled courgettes. It could have done with slightly more dressing to flavour the medley of vegetables.
If you prefer your food more indulgent rather than healthy, then they do offer an unusual roast butternut squash pancake. It has a denser texture than normal pancakes and was well-balanced in that it wasn’t too savoury or sweet. You can’t really go wrong with the addition of goats cheese and bay butter.
Slow roasted English lamb was as hearty and filling as I had expected with giant duck-fat roasted potatoes. Although I am not sure how well it went down with the lady nearby who had requested a vegetarian Sunday roast. Parsnips, carrots and kale were delightfully appetising, no doubt helped by the addition of the dense meat gravy.
Desserts were surprisingly the highlight of the meal with my guest declaring the lemon posset with rhubarb and shortbread, one of the best versions he has ever eaten. The consistency was silky soft and the citrusy notes made for a light-tasting dessert. The apple crumble was filled with a nutty, biscuity topping and smooth tasting vanilla ice cream.
If you are ever strolling around Hackney Wick or the Olympic Park, make sure you take a detour to Here east and try the ethically sourced food at Shanes on Canalside.