Pitted behind Dalston's pop-up (well, not by any certification) skate park, Pond Dalston is a hidden warehouse cranny with industrial interiors on its side. Hailed as a Hawaiian dining haven with an East London twist, we headed down to see if the Spam sushi rumours were true.
Perched under what appeared to be a scale cardboard model of a Great White Shark, more than humbling any DIY aspirations that I had for the future, we tucked into a neat hand-built, mustard booth by the bar. Split between spaces, Pond Dalston hasn't gone for decked, gearing up raw interiors instead. From exposed concrete walls to the mouse trap of pipes above, Pond is both minimalist and warm. Candlelit tables clearly helped to set the scene, while tables flit between group diners and crooning couples.
Honestly? It's nice to see a venue that doesn't take a theme through the hedge and back again; while their tones and colours feel like a subtle homage to Hawaii, Pond Dalston clearly have other, more classic ideas for themed dining.
The Food and Drink
I started with the Spam maki roll sushi (£3), because I am a woman with no care for the rules, or authority, or clearly vacuum pressured grub. Told by our lovely waitress that Hawaii is mad about the larder bound stuff, and is even its hailed biggest producer in the world, it's no surprise that so many nit-bits are featured on the menu, we just didn't assume that sushi would be one. Crispy with a teriyaki glaze, the flavours felt odd and intrusive at first, but I couldn't stop going back for more, are the days of sashimi finally over? Okay, no, but this was such a pleasant surprise.
While unfortunately my main of pulled pork lacked luster and even felt on the watered down side, our wok fried ginger, sesame and wakame rice (£4), teriyaki vegetables (a crunchy and glazed blend) and vegetarian mushroom main stormed ahead, showcasing the menagerie of flavours that Hawaii harbored. Star of the day? Their vegetarian steam bun. Fluffy, light and laced with goat's cheese, this warm intrusion was the very best start to our meal.
Trumping the food ever so slightly were the cocktails. My first cocktail set the bar, clamoring its way onto the table in a glass eagle. A pure spirited blend, 'The Eagle' (£14), set a marker for the way Pond clearly mix. Trying our hand at their beloved and creamy 'Pina Collider' with condensed milk, Sage-infused Olmeca Altos Reposado, pineapple and lime, Hawaii came calling; all before we were brought back to more speakeasy styled boozing with their 'American Gothic' (£9). Those of you that love supping on a Sazerac and the like will enjoy this hardened smacked in the chops with Rye whiskey and Calvados. Their description of the drink? 'Drink in silence then fuck on a bearskin rug'. Oh, matron.
While this restaurant had the busy, and optimistic momentum of many a popular London restaurant (slow on the 7pm uptake, raring to go come 9pm), it was clear that this restaurant is primed for and with Dalston dwellers. A menagerie of clear East London creatives and locals, Dalston isn't a one trick pony by any means, but it is the kind of place where you can feel comfortable with a somewhat tailored crowd.
I'll be honest, while not all of the dishes blew me away, Pond Dalston has paid due credit to ingredients of the South Pacific, the cocktails are fantastic, and definitely has a fun tone to the restaurant that just can't be ignored. And yes Hawaii, while you sure love Spam, it seems I may only be saving it for a pending apocalypse. Rumours are, it will NEVER go off. It may outlive us all.