Not all food trends are made for an influencer’s instagram or a PR’s press releases, some are important and focus on making the world a better place. Step up Shane’s on Canalside, a Hackney Wick restaurant that is part of a new wave of eateries that focus on creating sustainable and ethically sourced meals, mainly through foraging and socially aware shopping. I headed over to the East London haven for brunch and cocktails.
Venue and Atmosphere
Run by burly New Zealander Shane, his eponymous venue is part of the regeneration of the River Lea canal in Hackney Wick, a spot that anyone worth their singlespeed bike and jorts knows in East London. On a sunny Sunday, the restaurants along it are heaving as people spill out onto terraces and flop themselves on any spare cm of grass. Sitting alongside The Breakfast Club and Randy’s Wing Bar, Shane’s avoids the pitfall of looking like an abandoned carpark that seems to befall many architecturally new buildings. Rustic looking tables and chairs are squeezed onto the outdoor terrace as couples and young families queue to grab a seat in the sun.
After the brightness of outside, the interior of Shane’s is almost cavernous, with the only natural light from the glass doors at the front. Furniture is all a stripped-back wood, the ceiling is unpainted with industrial metal pipes running along and there’s an open kitchen and black metal racks storing wine above the bar. While it sounds harsh and industrial on paper, the restaurant is actually a cosy nook with warm orange chairs lining the bar and vintage looking, cream, ceramic tiles lining walls, on which yellow hued watercolours hang.
Food and Drink
Shane’s aims to create food that is sustainable and locally sourced with the menu featuring ingredients such as wild garlic, pickled courgette and elderflower, all of which grow naturally in the UK. Throughout the day, a brunch menu is served, and features comforting classics that everyone needs on a Sunday morning, with a gourmet twist. Confit duck is given the brunch treatment with hollandaise sauce and a poached egg, while wild rabbit burgers are topped with beetroot and rocket.
The buttermilk pancake (£7.50) was plate-sized and covered in a buttery-soft white goats cheese that was in a big enough dollop for me to spread across the whole dish. Crispy bacon finished everything off, while a hint of maple syrup stopped it tasting too salty. The fried chicken thigh (£8.50) was succulent and light, on top of a doughy crumpet and sprinkled with fresh salsa. Desserts are just as homely with a little ramekin of chunky apple crumble (£5) topped with a vanilla ice cream, and a drool-worthy chocolate fondant (£5) that oozed sauce as soon as you dug your spoon into the soft sponge.
Drinks are simple and light enough to justify drinking at lunchtime, with a selection of affordable whites such as the house Clásico Blanco Vegaval DO Valdepenas 2014 (£19), and cocktails that include Aperol Spritzes (£7). Given that it was a hot Sunday and brunch-time in East London, Shane’s was absolutely rammed which unfortunately meant that some of our orders got lost in translation, however the staff couldn’t have been more friendly.
With Crate Brewery, and bearded men at every head turn, I love Hackney Wick. Shane’s on Canalside has sealed the deal, managing to remain unpretentious and wholesome in prime ‘reclaimed clothing’ territory. Be prepared to scrap to grab a seat on their terrace come summer, or settle inside for date night, as simple ingredients are used to create comforting cuddly food.