Published on October 19th, 2015 | by Sophia Longhi0
The Richmond, Hackney
Summary: Whether you’re an oyster fan, a raw food buff or simply want a delicious and quality meal in an unpretentious environment, then the Richmond is the place to head
Happy Hour Oysters
Rebecca and Sophia from Lioneye Media recently embarked on a trip to The Richmond in Hackney. Natural wines, sustainably-sourced food and oyster happy hours? What could sound more appealing to two wine-loving, oyster-slurping London foodies? Here’s what they thought.
Hackney is beginning to remind us of hip and trendy Brooklyn. Edgy nightspots where they can whip up fantastic classic cocktails, eclectic music venues where you don’t have to wipe your feet on the way out and neighbourhood restaurants that are so ahead of the ‘good, honest food’ curve that our expectations are now so high when we eat in central, we are often let down (and ripped off). And now, just to ice the cake on the Brooklyn vibe, we have £1 Oyster Happy Hours. This is amazing!
The Richmond is home to East London’s first and only raw seafood bar, which offers a grand selection of oysters, clams, carpaccios and tartares. But the raw bar is only one part of a diverse menu, largely built around comfort food, like stews and steak (there’s a cheeseburger on there, too), all of which is organic and locally-sourced. Small, succinct and sounding delicious, it’s a menu that Rebecca and I like immediately.
On passing, The Richmond could be any normal pub: unpolished floorboards; plain wooden tables; old-fashioned leather banquettes. But the little touches set a different vibe: white linen napkins; nice, heavy cutlery; pretty glassware – and exceptional (but not pretentious) service. Our host for the evening runs us through the menu: we say we like oysters; she recommends an oyster tour, where we try one of each. Sounds perfect!
The oyster tour really is something special and we love how each kind of oyster has a short description of it on the menu, which almost acts as a guide. Of course, it is down to personal taste, but the Lindisfarne from Northumberland are my favourite – silky and buttery, their sweetness lingers in the mouth and, just as described, they have a real nutty flavour to them. Rebecca is all about the umami, so chooses the Scottish Cumbrae as her number one, enjoying its mineral, rather than salty, flavour. The whole experience of eating oysters at The Richmond is wonderful: the selection and the way they are presented, alongside the knowledge of the staff, would make this place my first port of call for oysters, hands down.
Our oyster tour is certainly a wonderful novelty – it’s like a tasting menu of magnificent mollusc delights. I love the way that The Richmond obviously want you to get stuck in – there’s no standing on ceremony here. Bringing the enjoyment of oysters to the masses is something that these guys should definitely be commended for.
But if swallowing slippery seafood isn’t to your taste, the uncooked offerings extend to other fishy indulgences. We tuck into Tuna tartare with aubergine, harissa and mint – a combination we’d not tried before (most fish tartar dishes I eat seem to be heavily influenced by Asian flavours). But this Moroccan mix opens my eyes to more exotic possibilities. The smoky aubergine combined with earthy harissa spice and a zing of mint is delicious when united with melt-in-the mouth tuna, letting the freshness of the fish really shine.
But that’s not to say the raw bar is the only string to The Richmond’s bow. Even if you only intend to indulge in uncooked dishes, a glance at the menu is sure to tempt even the most prudent taste-buds. A huge scallop, served snowy-white in its shell complete with a pool of shimmering yellow butter, is a perfectly-cooked reminder of why these little coins of sweet seafood are so popular. And when it comes to main courses we’re spoilt for choice.
Although the monkfish and skate tempt us (so good had our fish supper been so far), the sound of the steak special is more than Sophia can say no to. It arrives glistening with pink promise, succulent on the inside, charred on the outside. I manage to snaffle a piece when she is busy taking a swig of the organic red that had been matched to the food, and can confirm that her rapturous commendations are warranted. I personally was too busy enjoying my Nduja spiced seafood stew with pasta shells & aioli. Rich, fragrant, and with a thick tomato sauce that is just begging to be mopped up with the freshly cooked warm bread, it is pure rustic peasant food cooked with the best ingredients possible, and tastes sensational. Our meal is completed with an oozing chocolate dessert and two Espresso Martinis – the last two in the restaurant, happy and replete.
We were so relaxed that we wanted the night to go on and on, and this seems to be one of the secrets to The Richmond’s success. It lures you in with its glowing interior, relaxed ambience and promise of Happy Hour oysters, and before you know it, it’s four hours later and you’re well fed, singing the praises of the delicious food and cleverly-chosen wine list. Whether you’re an oyster fan, a raw food buff or simply want a delicious and quality meal in an unpretentious environment, then the Richmond is the place to head.
The Richmond, 316 Queensbridge Rd, E8 3NHShare This Post