A pop-up restaurant situated in the men’s room of an old toilet block in Clapton is not the usual destination for a romantic second date. Brooksby’s Walk is exactly that and a fantastic addition to the ever- evolving Chatsworth Road.
If you didn’t know it was there, you’d walk right past it – the door for the women’s toilet is now signposted as ‘Hackney’s only free unisex toilet’ and is adorned with public health notices on the dangers of venereal disease. The men’s loo next door is where all the action happens, so to speak.
We visited on a Tuesday and pulled up at the bar for a little aperitif before dinner. Except for a few hints of porcelain peaking out of the benches along the walls, there is little to suggest its lavatorial origins. We were treated to a particularly tasty house take on the Negroni; it was infused with hay-smoked spirits and some other bits and pieces of bartender talk I can’t quite recall, but we were both impressed with the complex recipe. An excellent choice, but as with all good cocktails, I wished it was served in a pint glass.
We headed upstairs to the rooftop dining room where I was hoping to seduce my captive lady friend with lofty tales of wild and windswept adventures. She ordered a bottle of Italian Pettirosso and we got down to story time. But not before I declared, using my expert, and some would say large, nose, that the wine was corked, and summoned the waitress. Our waitress pointed out that the wine was in fact not corked, but was an organic wine without preservatives of sulphates of any kind. Waitress 1 – Ant 0.
The rooftop is cosy and has a yurt-like feel to it, made even more welcoming with extensive use of fairy lights, blankets and white fur rugs that I was quick to point out looked like authentic Canadian baby seal fur, having encountered those ferocious beasts on more than one occasion. Our waitress was on hand again to inform me they were not, in fact, made of baby seal fur.
The menu is Italian-influenced and consists of mostly shared plates, a couple of more substantial dishes, a selection of cheeses and a couple of puds – perfect for picking at over a few bottles of all-organic wine. A chicken liver parfait was light and silky and tasted like the good bits of the inside of a bird, served with a cute and tasty little leg and breast of partridge.
We had a black pudding pressed terrine that also hit the mark, though I found it a touch dry for my taste; the layers separated on the plate when it was sliced. A mushroom and truffle velouté was delicious, a bit too thick but perfectly balanced so the truffle didn’t overpower the dish. It was served with a bite-sized venison sausage roll – a playful addition to a seriously good dish.
For the cheese course, we tried a French Le Chevrot goats and a Beauvale English blue that at just three quid a portion, made us consider ordering all five on the menu.
A date night is incomplete without dessert, so we had the chocolate ganache, rich and decadently mud-like, served with a hazelnut crumble. Coffee and a few whiskies capped off an excellent evening. Brooksby’s Walk; the best meal you’ll find in a toilet block.
Brooksby’s Walk, E9 6DA
SEAL FUR 1/5
PROXIMITY TO THE DOLPHIN 2/5