Eating Out: Counter Café, Hackney Wick

Saturday 24 January 2015 by

Last Saturday, with a hungover K and cheery DS in tow, I braved the brief rainstorm to head over to Hackney Wick for some brunch.

Counter cafe, Hackney Wick, London, Eating, Brunch

The Counter is a small café nestled between warehouses and buzz-entry flats right on the riverside. It overlooks canal boats and the big scaffolding horizon of the Olympic Park, and shares its space with the Stour exhibition (a quirky collection of local art). The café itself is fairly popular, having featured in Time Out, and the benches, leather sofas and plastic chairs are pretty full by the time we arrived. But the brunch menu on the chalkboard looks too delicious to ignore, and settled in.

Counter cafe, Hackney Wick, London, Eating, Brunch

Brunch is fairly cheap, with prices ranging from £9 for a big breakfast (your choice of eggs) and £4 for a bacon focaccia (with the infamous Counter relish – made in house). Fresh juice or a choice of flavoured waters are also available, and a large cup of breakfast tea is a reasonable £1.50.

Counter cafe, Hackney Wick, London, Eating, Brunch, Poached eggs, Potato cakes, Gluten free, Smoked salmon

I picked the poached eggs on crispy potato cakes with smoked salmon (one of the pricier plates on the menu at £8) as they offer it as a gluten free choice, with a glass of the delicious pineapple-apple-carrot-ginger-and-fennel juice, a cup of breakfast tea and – because I couldn’t resist – some gluten free date truffles (£1 each) from their selection of sweet treats. For this little feast, I felt rather pleased that I was only coughing up £15. K and DS chose the Counter big breakfast, replete with beans, toast, poached eggs, sausages, bacon and potato cake.

Counter cafe, Hackney Wick, London, Eating, Brunch, Poached eggs, Potato cakes, Gluten free, Smoked salmon

Counter cafe, Hackney Wick, London, Eating, Brunch, Poached eggs, Potato cakes, Gluten free, Smoked salmon

Counter cafe, Hackney Wick, London, Eating, Brunch, Fried breakfast, Beans, Bacon, Sausages

The eggs and potato cakes were the perfect brunch, a nice alternative to the richer eggs Benedict also on offer. The fluffy potato cakes were crisped just right, and the poached eggs had rich, runny yolks – just how I like it. The salmon added a nice dimension to the meal, but it certainly felt plentiful without.

Counter cafe, Hackney Wick, London, Eating, Brunch, Juice, Carrot, Fennel, Pineapple, Apple, Ginger, Date, Truffle, Gluten free

Counter cafe, Hackney Wick, London, Eating, Brunch, Date, Truffle

The juice – a refreshing blend of super-healthy fruits and vegetables – was the right side of sweet and sour, although for £2.50, I had hoped for a bigger glass! And as for the truffles… the highlight of the meal if I’m honest! They had the familiar bitterness on the outside, but melted in to a chewy, chocolate-date delight in your mouth. I could have had a whole load more!

Counter cafe, Hackney Wick, London, Eating, Brunch

Counter cafe, Hackney Wick, London, Eating, Brunch, Water

The Counter itself is a buzzing café, obviously popular with locals for a cup of coffee, and families with young children dominate the top floor. There is a pontoon outside over the river, which would be perfect in summer, but looked rather sad and abandoned whilst we were there. The staff were helpful, cheerful, and unfazed by my usual prattle about being gluten free.

I knew that it wouldn’t be terrible, having had a complimentary feature in Time Out, but I was impressed by the natural atmosphere and reasonable pricing, with clear thought behind their menu. The café was set up by Kiwi brother and sister Tom and Jess, and has quickly gained popularity and awards, promising good coffee and homemade, locally-sourced food (including some pies which apparently are a must-try). It feels very much like a labour of love, and it would be very easy to spend hours in there with endless tea! It is most certainly worth a visit (even if just for their perfectly-poached eggs and fresh juice).

Counter cafe, Hackney Wick, London, Eating, Brunch, Stratford, Olympic Park

Find out more about the Counter café here

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