Stoke Newington or ‘Stokey’, as it’s affectionately known to some of its buggy-maneuvering and KeepCup gripping residents, is one of north London’s most aesthetically pleasing areas. There’s Clissold Park, there’s Abney Cemetery, and there’s the oldest Wetherspoon’s in London.
Green and beer-stained spaces aside, there are also a load of excellent places to eat around here. From wine bars in Newington Green, to back-alley brunch spots two minutes from the park, this is where you should be eating in Stoke Newington.
If a nice brunch place takes bookings, is it even a nice brunch place? This is a question we often ask ourselves and at the moment the answer seems to be... no. Esters is easily the best brunch place in Stoke Newington, and probably the whole of this part of London. Yes, you have to queue, but time it right and it won’t be for very long. Besides, it’s worth it. They get pretty creative with their food here, like confit pork with fried egg and rhubarb ketchup. It’s just really good. They take their coffee seriously as well, but none of this makes for a poncey atmosphere - it’s relaxed, friendly and generally easy-going.
Our favourite type of restaurant is the one you walk past for months and months before eventually remembering to give it a try, and it turning out to be absolutely brilliant. Rubedo is one of those and we already regret telling you about it. The food is Italian-inspired but generally it’s just excellent, fresh-tasting produce being treated very simply and very well. Think burrata with Italian anchovy fish sauce or prosciutto with quince and radicchio. Paired back, delicious things that work well together. The wines are natural, much like the rest of the approach, and, once you settle in here, it’s very, very easy to forget you’re in England, let alone the top of Church Street.
Billed as ‘modern Australian’, Wander is a standout in Stoke Newington’s at times underwhelming dinner scene. There are certain dishes that make you think, ‘hello’. Chicken liver and bacon parfait served on a hot cross bun with a touch of raisin chutney is delicious and quite unique. Wild garlic spaghetti with crab, ’nduja, and crouton bits is excellent. Not everything is perfect and things feel a bit off the cuff at times, but this is a small plates and natural wines restaurant that has all it needs to set itself apart from the rest.
Jolene is the all-day restaurant you dreamt about when you thought you could work freelance, before realising you just watch Mad Men everyday and pretend you work in an ad agency. Telling your crumpets you need that deck by EOP is not work. Basically you’ll want to get out the house and to this Newington Green spot early. Not just because it fills up, but because by the time you’ve finished your jamon and eggs, done a bit of work, moved on to a salad, and done a bit more work, the day will be over, and you’ll be very very content.
Romeo and Giulietta is a lovely little gelateria just south of Clissold Park that makes extremely creamy, and delicious, and two scoop essential gelato. The biscokrok (biscuits, basically) is our favourite but nothing here tastes like a dud, whether the sun is shining or not.
01 Adana is a massive Turkish spot on the Newington Green end of Green Lanes that after one visit will soon become a regular. Everything from their shish kebabs to their lahmacun is fresh and delicious, while the mercimek corbasi (lentil soup) is a winter essential. The room is big and bright and open from early morning till midnight, making it a no brainer when you’re moving in numbers or on your own, and need somewhere delicious to eat.
For an area with a high concentration of pubs, Stoke Newington is severely lacking in pubs at the more gastro end of things. Although that suits for the most part, sometimes you fancy a pint and a pie, and The Prince is ideal for just that. It’s a civilized affair at this spruced-up neighbourhood pub, and the mood leans more creche than pints of Carling on the weekend. It’s split between bar and dining room, and the menu, from padron peppers to homemade pies, is consistently satisfying.
A tapas bar that’s serving Spanish cuisine via Scotland may sound odd initially, but the more we think about it, the more we like it. Haggis croquettes. Churros with a Mars Bar sauce. We’re geniuses. Admittedly, this is nothing like what Escocesa has on offer. This is a neighbourhood tapas bar where all the seafood has come from up there, and is used to make some familiar and delicious tapas plates. Things are best here when the seafood is left to do its thing, like grilled octopus or tortilla with prawn. It’s a nice setting - particularly sitting up at the bar - and it makes for an ideal spot for a date.
As far as neighbourhood restaurants go, Perilla is up there with the most idyllic, and most ceramic-filled. This shabby chic spot on the corner of Newington Green serves up casual fine-dining-ish food in an elegant and candlelit space that makes N16 go dough-eyed. The menu is split between a la carte and set (6 courses for £44) and jumps from beef fat fried whiting with curry sauce, to roast scallop with cauliflower and apple. Though the food can sometimes appear fancy, the atmosphere is far from it, which makes it an excellent kind-of-special-but-not-too-special dinner venue.
Rumour has it that if you roll three Burford Brown eggs down Stoke Newington Church Street, a bearded man in wayfarers will appear and give you his secret shakshuka recipe. It’s just a rumour, but we suspect that’s why Good Egg opened down here a few years ago. They knew this was the spot that wanted brunch and they have very much provided it. The shakshuka here is decent and the shawarmas are very nice. Warning: prepare to queue on the weekend and prepare for buggies.
Trattoria N16 is part of a little line of excellent restaurants and cafes looking out onto Newington Green. It’s an all-day cafe situation that serves pretty decent wood fire pizzas amongst other smaller Italian plates and salad. There’s a very easy-going vibe which makes it an ideal spot to set up in for the day, or to use for a casual dinner in the evening.
This place used to be called L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele and people would come to Stoke Newington Church Street from all over London to try one of two pizzas on the menu - margherita or marinara - made just like they are in Naples. Though the famous name might have gone, this simple little spot has maintained standards, and the pizzas are up there with the best London has to offer. And on those days when the weather is as good as it probably is in Naples, they have a small garden where you can book if you’re a group of six or more.