Spend any time scrolling through Instagram or TikTok and you’re likely to have come across one of London’s most venerated bakeries, Pophams. Indeed, if you’ve wandered around the London streets near their three locations you may have stumbled across the queues of people waiting for their baked goods. Or perhaps you’ve peered in through their windows in vain hope for a seat at the ever-full tables. To call Pophams popular in London is the understatement of the century. So when a new venture lands in London, spearheaded by ex-Pophams staff, you pay attention. Enter: Hoxton’s newest neighbourhood restaurant and wine bar, Eline.
Eline comes from chef Alex Reynolds and wine enthusiast Maria Viviani, and they’re helped out by their adorable little dog, Kimchi. Named after Alex’s French grandmother, the restaurant is dedicated to her love of “cooking, good restaurants and her grandson.” It’s a gorgeously laid-back venue, with a simple, and humble goal: “We hope you enjoy a great meal and feel at home in our little restaurant.”
On the menu at Eline
As a seasonal restaurant, the menu at Eline changes monthly. Dishes make use of produce at its peak, sourced as locally as possible, and chef Alex’s focus is on extracting as much flavour as he can from each ingredient. On the menu for December are dishes with ingredients ranging from partridge to barbecued scallop, truffle, duck, and more.
And since he’s come from Pophams, you’ll definitely want to leave room for dessert at the end of your meal! They’re big-hitter deserts too, packed with warming comfort. Choices include pear tarte tatin, cardamom custard tart, and a rich, molten chocolate fondant. Oh, and we have to mention the dulce de leche flan. It’s a favourite of Maria, and you don’t want to miss it when it’s available.
Yeah, my mouth is quite literally watering as I write these words ahead of lunch…
Kimchi’s Bottle Shop
Because every great venue with a dog involved, must name some portion of it after the dog, right? Operating throughout the day, Kimchi’s Bottle Shop allows Maria Viviani to share her love of natural and low-intervention wines outside of the restaurant service. It’s the perfect place to purchase a special bottle for the festive gifting, or just to grab something to drink for the evening. Options include Langhe Nebbiolo from independent winemakers Lalu in Piedmont, Italy and small batch, natural English wines from Dan and Nicola Ham at Offbeat Wines.
Keep an eye on Eline’s Instagram page for the regularly recurring story feature, Kimchi’s Choice, for the best wine recs in town. I don’t know about you, but I’m officially no longer taking wine advice unless it comes from a cute dog!
My visit to Eline
The dining room at Eline feels at once intimate and spacious. There’s plenty of room between tables and you never feel like you’re intruding on anyone else’s meal. There’s an airiness, a friendliness, and an approachability to the restaurant.
Food here is stunning: careful and calculated. There’s a moment when you visit where you will lock eyes with your dining partner across table, having both popped bread and butter into your mouth. That’s when you know what you’re in for: a delicious evening. Across a variety of dishes, ranging from chicken liver parfait to cured lamb and duck, globe artichoke with barley and fennel, and a cute cheese platter, it was hard to do much more than clear the plate and eagerly await the arrival of the next.
As always in a wine-oriented venue, I opted for an orange wine to start – I do live in Hackney after all, them’s the rules – before deferring to the expertise of Eline’s staff. And, as expected, they know exactly what they’re doing. The suggested sharp white cuts through my main, a fatty stuffed guinea fowl, and amplifying the acidic pops of the grapes and Vin Jaune.
And then, there’s the dessert. With an ex-Pophams baker in the kitchen, we knew it was going to be good. But we weren’t quite prepared to have some of the best pistachio ice cream we’ve ever tried. The pistachio and plum religieuse was filled with the ice cream and a plum jam, for a lightly savoury, and delicately sweet dessert. I had to wrestle it away from my dining partner to grab a bite. Additionally, after Eline’s offering, I can no longer have a financier from anywhere else. It’s simply not possible to top, or even come on par with, that chewy-crispy topped delight.
The must-order dishes
Ultimately, the menu changes often, so it’s highly likely that when you visit nothing I had will be on the menu. But if you see any of the following, immediately order them: Home cured lamb & duck, Capeletti with Chestnut mushrooms and egg yolk, Globe artichoke with barley and fennel, and of course all of the extra bread for the table. But definitely chat with the staff to find out what they’re excited about – they won’t lead you astray.
The number one rule, though, is ‘dessert cannot be skipped, no matter how full you are!’
Check out some of the dishes we tried over at our London Mouthful account:
Eline is sweet and authentic. There’s a genuine sense of care in what they’re doing, simply “working together and making people happy through delicious food and wine.” It may be a simple thing, but it’s an important thing. With Eline they’re bringing dining back to its core purpose – nourishment, pleasure, and connection with people. And great wine.