London is blessed with over a dozen city farms, including several that are very close to the centre. Hackney City Farm has an added attraction that makes it more than simply a convenient place for kids to have fun petting the animals. Frizzante offers quality alfresco dining, right in the middle of the farm.
Styled on the agriturismos in Italy – Frizzante declares a “shared love and passion for good rustic food” (don’t we all?)Far from smelling of manure and sweaty animals, the ambience of this place will whisk you to somewhere that feels more like a twinkling summer's evening in the Mediterranean — maybe not that exotic but it definitely doesn’t feel like London. Perfect for a little escapism on the warm Thursday night when we ventured over.
We’re seated in a small courtyard nestled in the corner of the farm's grounds and just outside the café. The set-up is cute: mismatched wooden tables under canopies, the tables are all adorned with pretty floral arrangements and flickering candles. Live music comes courtesy of a one-man-band with a guitar. A good start, but would the quality of the food match the charm of the location?
The antipasti dishes are varied (each priced at £6.50), and each is divine. Bruschetta with baked figs, gorgonzola, pea shoots and balsamic glaze took first prize, closely followed by grilled Tuscan sausage with chives and an aioli dip served with grilled polenta. The portions are large, and anyone simply ordering nibbles will be more than satisfied. We're full but greedily move on to a second course (prices range from £9.50 to £14.50). Homemade pappardelle with slow-roasted oxtail ragu topped with grana padano – who could resist? It arrives as another generous helping, and though the meat and sauce are tasty the pasta is disappointingly undercooked.
For dessert we order the pear and almond frangipane. Sadly, it is really late to arrive and average when it does. As more of the tables pack out with diners, the staff look increasingly flustered — it leaves us wondering whether arriving early has really been in our favour.
That said, Frizzante offers good rustic Italian food, very reasonably priced in a charming and unusual location. It's perfect for an aperitif on a warm summer's night. It’s a shame Autumn is so dangerously close…
Frizzante at Hackney City Farm, 1a Goldsmiths Row, London E2 8QA, is open daytimes Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 4.30pm (including bank holidays) with the kitchen closing at 3pm during the week. Evenings: Weds, Thur and Fri, last orders 10pm. Available at other times for private hire and always for kids' parties. Other branches of Frizzante can be found at Surrey Docks Farm in Rotherhithe and Mudchute Park & Farm on the Isle of Dogs. Bookings: 020 7739 2266, firstname.lastname@example.org
By Zoe Allen, Eat Shoreditch.