It feels like a bit of a treat to wander away from Hackney’s more cluttered foodie areas to find the recently opened Vincent, neatly tucked behind Hackney Downs. Coming from the team behind the Sebright Arms, their mission is to create a “great local café-restaurant, doing the simple things well”. This is no easy task in this busy part of town - especially with the added pressure from their sister venue's reputation - so I headed down to this new all-day dining plot to see if they live up to the hype.
Venue & Atmosphere
Outside the restaurant has a spread of wooden folding tables, ideal for the start of summer and the odd freak heatwave. Inside, the space has been decked out with plenty of wood, woven lampshades and giant custom-built planters, which make full use of the double height ceiling. This natural warmth works well with the glass walls, which make it the ideal place for a spot of people watching, or just to catch the last rays of the day.
The atmosphere is relaxed, set to a soundtrack of washed-out funk. The staff are friendly, attentive without feeling pushy, and happy to point out their favourites. As the day turns to night and it starts to fill up, the venue switches from serious sun-trap to subtly mood-lit space.
Food & Drink
The food here takes an all-day approach; a full brunch selection, side dishes of padron peppers to share over a beer, or more substantial rice bowls for lunch or dinner. For drinks, a range of cocktails, wines and other tipples feature, but it’s the beer menu that’s the real treat here. As you'd expect from the guys behind the Sebright, there is a massive selection of revolving of draft and cans, from staples (such as Beavertown’s Neck Oil £4.75) to the more adventurous (Mikkeller Passion Fruit Sour £7.5). The schooner serve (⅔ Pint) is just another excuse to try and work your way further through the menu.
There is clearly a real emphasis on provenance, which runs from the Dingley Dell pork to The Roasting Shed coffee, coming from just around the corner in Hackney Wick. On top of that, the rich range of vegan and gluten free options cater for most needs, with options to customise on many dishes too.
The Buttermilk Fried Chicken Bun (£8.5) is wonderfully offset with a mango pickle, giving it a summery taste. The rice bowls are enough to fill you up with wide selection of flavours, with the meatballs coming in a delicious tomato and sweet pepper sauce (£8.5). But I have to he honest here: the lightly seasoned, full-of-flavour Slow-Cooked, Torn Harissa Lamb (£11) stole the show (and my heart).
If you have enough room - and are happy to press on past the beers - the pudding selection is short, but very sweet. Here you to choose between Liege Waffles (with a choice of toppings £4.5) or their delicious Brownie (£4.5). Or, like me, you could (and should) just pick both.
This might be a different vibe from the Sebright’s boozer approach, but the care and attention to the important things (and I don’t just mean the beer) really shine through. The Vincent aren’t just doing the simple things well, they’re doing the lot.