Bad Egg opened just before Christmas last year and is the latest venture from Scottish barbecue guru Neil Rankin, former head chef of Pitt Cue and John Salt. It is an all-day diner with a hipster bent (but ultimately probably aimed at City boys) – the menu is mostly composed of “dirty” meat dishes with a vague Korean theme (well, at least kimchi appears quite frequently on the menu). The menu is long and muddled: sub-genres are burgers, ribs, eggy things and (strangely) tacos; pricing is reasonable with the most expensive dish at £11. The set up is you would expect – they have the requisite craft beers on hand (from Beavertown, Fourpure and Camden breweries), the decor is stripped back and the furnishings reclaimed.
I couldn’t resist choosing the bad egg burger (£11), composed of a beef patty with cheese fondue, pickles, onions and, of course, a soft boiled egg. The burger was slightly smaller than I expected but was well seasoned, cooked nicely pink and came decadently smothered in rich, runny cheese. The cheese fondue was a masterstroke – the cheese was the right strength and was nicely liquid without being stringy or cloying. Disappointingly, my egg was a bit over cooked – it was not as runny as it should have been, although otherwise I was really impressed with the dish. I had kimchi fries (£5) on the side which complemented the burger really well – the kimchi was spicier than average and had very good texture, the skinny fries were bog standard but were brought to life by the zesty kimchi. Service was attentive but ineffectual (they confused our drinks orders and served a pint very shy of the watermark).
Verdict: worth a visit despite the mixed-up concept, odd location and slightly inept service 6/10
The White Building, Unit 7, Queen’s Yard, E9 5EN
Nearest tube: Hackney Wick
I then ventured further east for a quick visit to Crate Bewery which is based in a canal-side warehouse a few minutes’ walk from Hackney Wick station. The bar/restaurant is right next door to the brewery itself and owners Neil Hinchley, Tom and Jess Seaton (who are also responsible for the nearby Counter Cafe) have done a great job of converting the former print factory into an open and comfortable space. Unsurprisingly, they have a great range of beers (Lager, Golden Ale, India Pale Ale, Best Bitter and Stout, £3.8-4.5) – I sampled the Best Bitter which was malty with notes of caramel and a touch of fruitiness, recommended. They offer a little range of handmade stone-baked pizzas (£8-12, apparently all devised by Jess and her mum) which are prepared in an open kitchen in the middle of the bar. We chose the wackiest of the bunch: sage, potato and white truffle with mozzarella and parmesan (£10). The pizza arrived quickly with a waft of pungent truffle aromas – the topping was thin but very strongly flavoured with the parmesan, sage and truffle all fighting for attention. The potato had been grated over the base and softened the flavour of the other components, also adding texture. We shared this between two and I think it would have been tough to eat a whole one because of the rich and punchy flavours, but a slice or two works very well with a nice hoppy beer.
Verdict: great beer and interesting pizzas 6/10
22 Osborn Street, E1 6TD
Nearest tube: Aldgate East
Shahi Karahi is a Pakistani restaurant and takeaway at the (quiet) south end of Brick Lane, they specialise in tandoori grills and kebabs but also have a range of traditional curries. I went along for a quick midweek lunch – their food is fantastic value and they offer a set lunch deal of a meat dish with chips or rice and salad for £6. The set up is pretty basic – they have an open grill at front of restaurant and a dining area with about 60 covers in the back.
The chops had been first cooked in the tandoori oven and then finished on the grill so they were nicely charred and retained a slightly smoky flavour. Our waiter would not reveal the components of the “secret” marinade but the spicing was bang on – there were hints of coriander leading to a nice chilli kick. The salad was fresh and the chips were cooked from frozen but were nice enough.
Verdict: great value and authentic Pakistani food prepared with care 7/10