Ducksoup opened in Soho about two years ago now, and has quickly become one of those limited reservations gaffs with a large following and a larger queue out the door, a place where foodies and media types mingle over good wine and well-sourced, simply cooked plates. If they can get in.
This summer the team opened their second venture, RawDuck in what could easily be described as the wrong part of Hackney. Nestled away on Amhurst Road alongside Hackney Central station, it’s an area that’s on the up, but one whose food and drink scene is largely non-existent. Perhaps, of course, that’s the point.
RawDuck takes the local French wine bar with simple, well-cooked dishes vibe of Ducksoup and gives it a cafe twist. It’s a lot shinier than its neighbours, and the polish of a team who run a hit Soho joint and have previously worked with Mark Hix isn’t hidden; still there’s a local feel and a slightly dishevelled look that’s certainly deliberate but seems heartfelt all the same.
The always on-the-change food menu is scribbled on a large blackboard, and helpfully divided into 08.00, 12.00 and 14.00 to separate the brekkie menu from the lunch mains and afternoon cakes, which come from nearby bakery Violet. We enjoyed an early dish of avocado on toast, served on crispy, slightly salty rye bread and spiked with lots of fresh lemon and coriander as a vibrant breakfast and headed back less than a week later for a lunchtime toasted sandwich classic, the reuben. Also offered at Ducksoup, this version is just as pleasing: the usual pastrami and slightly melted swiss cheese is given an oomph by some subtle wasabi mayo.
Good coffee is a must at any cafe - especially in Hackney - and RawDuck has no problem in this arena, using Caravan beans to good use in espressos, flat whites, americanos, cappuccinos and lattes. If caffeine isn’t all you need, remember that this place is the sibling of a Soho bar specialising in natural wines and offering lesser-known and well-priced bottles from small producers. Of an evening, RawDuck turns into a proper wine bar (we’re yet to head down to try it out in that mode) but rest assured you can just as easily take your tipple of choice at lunchtime, too. We know we would.
RawDuck is at 5 Amhurst Road, E8 1LL. Visit the (trendily minimalist) website here.
Disclaimer: We review anonymously and pay for all our meals/drinks.