Set up by the owners of Borough Wines, high-ceilinged L’Entrepôt occupies a former warehouse in the otherwise shabby surroundings of Hackney Downs station. But a commitment to fine old-world wines and bespoke new-world suppliers, and a creative attitude to modernising traditional French cooking, makes this a classy eating destination in Hackney. Eat Hackney went along to the restaurant for a masterclass in raw meat classic steak tartare from chef Patrick Hanna.
Making steak tartare
Patrick explains that steak tartare is best as a lunchtime dish as it acts as a stimulant and can keep you awake. It makes you feel ‘more alive’ is how he puts it, sounding worryingly like a senior vampire introducing a novice to sucking blood.
Patrick favours small chunks of oxygen-rich onglet over traditional Parisian mince, cutting the meat on a board rubbed with garlic and rosemary. He mixes it with shallot, cornichon, tomato sauce and Tabasco, shaping the meat into rounds with a pastry cutter and topping it with raw egg yolks. Unless you have a thing about uncooked flesh it doesn’t look that appetising: blood red and uncompromisingly… raw. But the taste, with reassuring anchovy toast on the side, is good – it’s densely textured with a subtle Tabasco punch, and there’s something weirdly heady about the experience.
Figuring that a heavy red wine would kill the taste of the dish, the restaurant’s wine experts serve us a light German pinot noir, and a floral Cabernet Franc. The raw flesh and vino having slipped down a treat, we move on to some of the restaurant’s delicious ‘small plates,’ such as chicken wings (a homage to Hackney’s favourite food) with baba ganoush and marjoram.
L’Entrepôt are about to launch their French Sunday lunch menu – the airy space and large tables are good for big sociable groups. They will serve dishes such as rotisserie chicken, braised pork and salt-baked salmon. But you can expect some wild cards on the menu too – when Eat Hackney visited the chef was awaiting delivery of some frog’s legs to deep-fry, and he recounted adding green-boned garfish to the menu when 10 kilos of it was left on the doorstep by a fisherman friend.
If you’re feeling brave yourself, here’s how to make steak tartare: live a little Hackney…