There are lots of different styles of food, but there is no style quite as groomed as the tasting menu. It is the Gillette of the restaurant world. All foams and gels, tweezers for this, and diddy drops of acid for that. Basically, there’s lots of sodding about. And unless you’re writing your dissertation on the parentage of a peanut, it probably isn’t what you’re looking for in a casual meal. But at Casa Fofó it feels different.
It’s different because this little Hackney restaurant is distinctly unpretentious. Yes, their £39 seven-course menu is always changing. Yes, things will be poured into your bowl. And yes, dishes like oyster linguine won’t have the homely familiarity of, say, a cottage pie. But it’s all done in a way that feels soft rather than stiff. And more importantly, it’s all welcoming rather than wanky.
Often, the food here doesn’t look much like food, but it tastes even more like food than normal-looking food, if you know what we mean. You might look at a bowl of perfectly circular almond ravioli in a brown onion and beef juice and think, ‘why have I been served flying saucers in a puddle?’. But then you’ll taste it. Taste every bit of it. And the flavours will hit you like a fully-lit phone in a pitch black room. Though this isn’t always successful - we’re looking at you nori ice cream, or panna cotta with jerusalem artichoke - more often it is. Plus, as with most of life, all problems are made better by bread. And the sourdough here (served alongside a yeast-sprinkled butter) is very much the real deal.
As for the space, Casa Fofó is one dimly-lit, cosy room that’s wonderfully intimate for two, nice if a little poky for four, and likely impractical for any more than that. What this adds up to is a quietly but undeniably great neighbourhood restaurant, and also a bona fide contender for Hackney’s best lowkey date spot. Especially if you’re the kind of couple that likes to talk to each other, but doesn’t necessarily like to share.
The seven course menu changes regularly here, and there’s also a complete vegetarian tasting menu as well. But what you’ll get, by and large, is a tasty morsel to start, a fish course, pasta, some meat, a vegetable thing, and a couple of desserts. Although the ingredients do change, there are a few guarantees. One is that you’ll want to nab all the ceramic crockery. The second is that there will be broths. Like, seriously tasty ones that you need to drink all of. And the third is that you’ll want more of the petit fours. Lots more.