A brilliant find that encompasses a wine shop (where you can purchase refills), a café, a bar and an enoteca-style place to dine.
Living so close to Stoke Newington Church Street, where it’s not unusual to find loaves of bread costing £3, I find bargains a source of intense joy. This is why the ‘barrel to bottle’ wine refills from Borough Wines in nearby Hackney mean so much to me. For just £5 I can buy a litre of exceedingly drinkable wine that’s made all the more luscious by my consuming it in the knowledge that I haven’t been fleeced.
Now Borough Wines and its director Muriel Chatel have given me another reason to cheer with the opening of L’Entrepôt. This place is a former railway engineers’ warehouse next to Hackney Downs station (‘entrepôt’ meaning ‘warehouse’ in French). It’s all at once a wine shop (where you can purchase the aforementioned refills), a café, a bar and an enoteca-style place to dine. It’s only about a month old and there’s still a bit of cosmetic work to be done, but I can see this place becoming a firm favourite round these parts. It’s unpretentious, serves very good quality food and wine, and, in a world where a small packet of dried kale can cost £7.99 (Whole Foods – is this a joke?), it’s a place of economic good sense.
L’Entrepôt’s 30+ by-the-glass wines are biased towards the French that Bergerac-born Muriel knows best, but also showing off, at the time of my visit, Hungarian and Lebanese varieties. I tried the Lebanese Rouge de Cana: full of red fruit and tobacco-like spice, at a triumphant £3.50. There are also a couple of biodynamic wines if you prefer the unadulterated taste of terroir. I tried a Laverette Beaujolais (£4.00), which had a richness I didn’t know Beaujolais was capable of. The list changes regularly so there’s always something new to sample.
One the edible side, it’s mainly small plates, helpfully presented on the menu with wine-matching suggestions. The smoked salmon (matched with Sancerre rosé) from the smokery of Hansen & Lydersen is worth a dabble; so is the steak tartare (matched with white Côte du Rhône’) which, reportedly, Nuno Mendes of the Michelin-starred Viajante said was ‘the best he’d tasted’. You’ll also find at least one hot plate on offer. Whatever’s on the chalkboard you can expect treats: the head chef's past credentials include River Café and Moro.
Yes, L’Entrepôt is essentially an old engineers’ shed that has been given a coat of white emulsion, but in these penny-pinching times it’s a place of economic sanity. Its well-selected wines and unfancy French-leaning food will certainly be tempting me back.
Our reviewer tucked into:
As a café from 8am Mon-Fri and from 10am Sat-Sun
No bookings except for large parties and private functions. Borough Wines has shops in Borough Market, Wilton Way, Hackney, and Deal, Kent. Wines on L’Entrepôt’s menu are available at these shops. For more information, please visit: http://www.boroughwines.com/
L’Entrepôt: 230 Dalston Lane E8 1LA. Tel: 020 7249 1176
Reviewed by: Darren Smith