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Mayfields Restaurant, Wilton Way, Hackney – London

Have you heard about Mayfields, in Hackney? No, they don’t do burgers and there is almost no meat on the menu. And not even milkshakes (they do very good toffee ice-cream though). And no queues – in fact, there were not many people around although I hope they increase exponentially, to the point where I cannot get a table anymore. Ok I am lying on the latter, as I really want to go back to this “lovely neighbourhood restaurant” again and again to see if this promising gem in Hackney blossoms out into an all-time favourite. Read more…

mayfields restaurant hackney wilton way

I have spent all of my London life in Hackney, apart from a fairly ill-fated N4 stint which only lasted a few months. Before you dismiss me as another media-worker-type Hackneyite, please note I had no idea of the area reputation when I first settled there, although I admit that the high rent for what seemed a modest lodging on a street where the adorable often veered on the sketchy should have tipped me off I was in “trendy zone”. Three years after that, I am still a Hackney local. So, when the trustworthy “Rocket and Squash” blog reviewed Mayfields, a new-ish opening on Wilton Way, and summed it up as “lovely neighborhood restaurant” , I felt is as my duty (erm…) to go check out the new neighbours. Wilton Way is tucked away no more than 5 mines walk from Hackney Central station (Overground or buses); it is a very long road but Mayfields is towards the nice end of it, and a pleasant stroll from my house on a Saturday morning.

The exterior borrows the look of a pre-existing grocer and reminds me of the Hoxton Street shop signsI love the decor, the shiny Formica tables, the tiled floor and the blonde wood on the walls giving it a warm touch. My partner is happy with the clean, almost Scandinavian look – he’s a Corner Room die hard fan- but stares at the empty room and the tiny-looking kitchen and asks me “What are we doing here exactly?” to which I reply by flashing to him Mayfields’ kitchen credentials.

The chef at Mayfield, Matthew Young (nomen omen- he does look younger than me for sure) has time at Anchor and Hope and the Gramercy Tavern under his belt, in addition to the Wapping Project . According to an enthusiastic Metro critic, “his name ought to be as well known as Ollie Dabbous, Ben Spalding or Isaac McHale.” We’re here to see, as at the moment there is little else than his culinary prowess for us to admire as at 12.30 AM on a Saturday, the bright dining room is empty. Simple paper menus and a wine list appear promptly.
mayfields london hackney chef matthew young

The menu has a dozen items overall including desserts, with no clear distinction between starters and mains, and is peppered with Asian references (dashi, miso, daikon) and ingredients du jour like kohlrabi and celeriac. Fish prevails, with only a couple meat offerings. Everything is under £10 pounds, with the exception of a couple £12 mains, and starters are around the £7 mark.

We go for two raw fish starters, sardines and mackerel, and the octopus and sole for mains. We’re informed dishes come as they are ready and are meant for sharing- fine for us as that is what we do anyway, although it didn’t win us many perfect customer points at The Berkeley recently (I must have a scar on my back where the indignant gaze of the maître d’ burnt a hole in my dress).

Having seen pictures of it on the Internet, it is no surprise for me that presentation is clearly on a high standard at Mayfields, but these plates are very pretty indeed. With raw fish you can’t but presume absolute freshness and spotless preparation – hence my irritation at not being able to get a table at Sushi Tetsu lately- and this is  just what we get, plus some well-executed lemony sauce to counterpoint the rich oily taste.

mayfields restaurant starters

Starters: Sardines, Celeriac and Lemon; Mackerel Sashimi with Miso; bread and excellent EVO oil

When mains arrive, we are already wowed. These plates are the perfect illustration of “artful simplicity” with their vivid colours and pared down plating; no smears, no decorative frills, in fact some of the ingredients (like the slow-cooked egg in my octopus dashi broth) are even hidden away. Everything is truly delicious – and still, we don’t have much to distract us as only a handful of people have entered the room since. Slow cooked egg is a thing of beauty, including the white looking like a rarefied cloud in the broth and not slimy at all. The lemon sole is glorious – and to my modest knowledge, it takes skill to do anything else than candy with liquorish as it’s so easy to get it wrong. It works perfectly with the buttery sauce and daikon.

mayfields london wilton way mains 1

Octopus, Broccoli, Dashi and Slow Egg

It looks like Mayfields’ signature cuisine is a case of “three good things …and friends” – Sole, daikon and butter lemon sauce with liquorish and fish roe; octopus, broccoli and egg are framed by dashi broth, sesame and coriander. They all seem to get along together enough on the dishes we have chosen, whilst other combinations on the menu seem maybe a touch disjointed.

mayfields london wilton way mains 2

Sole, Daikon, Lemon Butter, Liquorice

We round it off by sharing a moreish brown butter ice cream with cherries and berries; sounds like a decadent gaudy thing but it is another restrained looking but great-tasting number. The ice-cream is like frozen toffee (a very good toffee for sure) and just about the right amount to share as it’s so incredibly rich; the fruits are scattered around with no sauces, so the tanginess is untamed. A great combination.

mayfields london hackney menu desserts

This is my type of pudding so no complaints, but two desserts choices on an a’ la carte menu are not a lot especially for sweet-toothed people. Also, when we enquire about the dinner menu at Mayfields, we are informed that it changes daily depending on market availability/seasonality (great) but it is always very fish-oriented. A refreshing choice from the meat-mania which seem to have hit most of the late London openings, except from Bruno Loubet Grain Store, but a very polarizing one. If you don’t like your fish, there is little point in coming all the way here.

With two aperitifs and two glasses of wine – a pleasant Tuscan white- bill comes at just over £30 per head which is exceptionally good value for this level of cooking- yes, even in E8.

All perfect? A couple of pet peeves from my point of view. Now, this is Hackney and I realize than over-keen service is also over-uncool, but one half of the two-strong staff seem a bit too uninterested in us considered that we were their only customers at the moment.  For example, I think the olive oil which comes with the sourdough bread is very good and ask where it is from – all I get in return is “I don’t know, maybe from Italy [I knew that much anyway]… I knew it but I forgot”. One can certainly be forgiven for forgetting things; but I would imagine if I was that member of staff, I would ask the kitchen and let the customer know. I would also imagine a second helping of bread could be brought to the table. But I am imagining wrong here.

This said, staff may still be in training so I will class it under the “room for improvement” column in my very very positive first impression of Mayfields. We will definitely be back, agrees my previously skeptical companion. A final few background notes: Borough Wines holds a share in the management, together with the host of legendary Shacklewell Nights supperclub. It shows. Wine list is spot-on, a good balance of quality for mostly less than £30 a bottle. The décor, branding and the feel of the place are also spot on, even on a very quiet time like when we visited. I can absolutely see the place buzzing at night and wish Mayfields well – just remember, creating an all-round exceptional experience for customers (including smiling) never goes out of fashion.

Mayfields is open for dinner Tuesday to Sunday from 6pm and from 12pm till 4pm for lunch Friday to Sunday, and takes bookings at the number below.

Mayfields on Urbanspoon

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2 Comments

  1. I hadn’t even heard about Mayfields and it seems like a restaurant I would love, so thanks a lot for sharing this review! :)

    • Yes I think you would like it…we can’t eat burgers and pork broth all the time ;)

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