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Bacon jam in Hackney - we Test Drive Eat 17

 Bacon jam in Hackney - we Test Drive Eat 17

What do we need to know about Eat 17?

EAT 17 Hackney is the second venture by the team behind the famous bacon jam. After the success of their first restaurant and food emporium in Walthamstow, they then took over an old Spar store in Chatsworth Road, converting a former snooker hall upstairs into a gorgeous dining space. The shop downstairs pairs the existing Spar with a rather more gourmet selection, including breads from E5 Bakehouse, almond milk from the Pressery, and artisan ready meals from Ginger Kitchen - while you can still pick up a pot of cut price coleslaw and a tin of beans.

Where can we meet for drinks beforehand?

Clapton is going through a rapid period of gentrification. There's a fancy Sunday food market and specialist stores like the London Borough of Jam, and independent coffee shops open during the day. In the evenings you could try the Windsor Castle, a big Victorian pub on the Lower Clapton Road that reopened last year after a complete revamp - or the Adam and Eve in Homerton which has just opened its doors again, with a comprehensive list of craft beers and wines. Go between 4-8pm on weekdays or at lunchtime on weekends, and selected drinks are just £3.

Where should we sit?

There are comfy, padded leather banquettes and some pouffe-like stools: or you can sit along the rather glamorous bar at the back of the room. The whole place has a sort of Californian vibe - it's a grown up place to eat, and we saw customers of all ages happily enjoying themselves.

What should we order?

You can start with a roasted root vegetable soup for £5.50, or a plate of very creamy avocado and crab for £6.50 with some crisp shards of rye toast.

But EAT 17 is rather better known for its meat - with a separate burger bar downstairs at the front of the shop, also available in the upstairs restaurant. Their trademark buttermilk chicken burger comes with slaw, jalapeños and a slick of aioli, but we opted for the equally tempting pork burger, which came in a grilled brioche bun with spinach, Manchego cheese and a good dollop of chorizo jam. There was a mountain of chips alongside - all for £11.20. We also tried the vegetarian main course for just £11, a thick slice of broccoli turned smoky on the chargrill, with shallot purée and yoghurt, a grilled scallion and two fried quails eggs. An interesting concoction, and a far lighter dish than the burger: luckily side dishes included some irresistible cheese truffle fries for £4.50.

For dessert, a chocolate ice cream was thick and intense, but the standout was the sticky banana pudding for £6 - served with a generous scoop of caramel and a jug of caramel custard on the side. If more things in life came with a jug of caramel custard on the side, the world would be a better place.

Overall thoughts

You would never guess you were sitting in an abandoned snooker hall: the room is large and light with a dramatic curved ceiling and a beautiful bar at the far end. The leather seats and padded stools are comfy and relaxing: it's buzzy, without being self consciously hipster. Food was vibrant and generous and the service was wonderfully friendly - and you can pop downstairs and buy tomorrow's dinner while you're there. There's even a £1 bargain trolley by the till. What more could you ask for than that?

Eat 17 Hackney is at 64-66 Brooksby's Walk, London E9 6DA. Find out more.

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Hot Dinners were invited to Eat 17. Prices were correct at the time of writing.

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