Barge East, one of London’s most unusual dining venues, is moored on the River Lee, East London, in the shadow of the Queen Elizabeth ll Olympic Stadium.
This Hackney Wick restaurant is one of a kind, offering diners the chance to enjoy mouth-watering dishes and superb wines and cocktails aboard a historic 120-year-old Dutch barge which the owners brought across from Holland.
The restaurant has earned the coveted AA 2 rosette award for culinary excellence, and having sampled the 6-course Taste of Barge menu with wine pairing, I can wholly understand why. The menu is superb, and homegrown ingredients from the towpath garden can be found in every dish. Menus cater to most dietary requirements, with a 6-course Taste of Barge vegan option, which sounds delicious.
If you are looking for unique places to eat in Hackney, Barge East ticks all the boxes. It is a fabulous place to dine with a loved one or a group of friends. Indeed, we had a group of ladies seated at the next table, fresh from the nearby ABBA Voyage Arena. After all, eating here is one of the best things to do in Hackney Wick, and it’s the perfect East London restaurant for a pre or post-concert meal.
My Honest Restaurant Review of Barge East, Hackney Wick
Step Aboard Barge East
Barge East, named De Hoop (The Hope), has been tastefully restored, with rustic up-cycled fittings in keeping with its age and history. An open canopy deck with outdoor seating offers a lovely waterside position, perfect for enjoying the views of this Hackney canal while enjoying cold refreshments in summer and hot chocolate or mulled wine in winter. The Barge has an indoor top deck room perfect for group celebrations, with the main restaurant being downstairs in the galley.
Inside the restaurant, sturdy wooden tables with metal legs and nautical iron clamps attached to them remind you, in case you should forget, that you are on a barge. Portholes and rusted metal sinks are another clue as to your location.
Barge East has a viewable kitchen, so you can watch your dinner being prepared by the chefs.
Customer Service Shines Out At Barge East
As for the staff, a shoutout has to go out to our friendly host, Fraser, who is not only the restaurant manager but also a font of knowledge when it comes to explaining the pairing wines. We were interested in hearing about the regions each wine came from and the aromas and flavours to expect from each glass.
Personal attention like this makes dining at Barge East a complete experience not to be forgotten quickly.
Our lovely server, Amore – (yes, it does mean love, and yes, I am sure we would all like to have a name like that), was also very attentive and explained each dish in detail as she served it to us.
Finally, a nice touch was that the chef brought us our dessert. It was a lovely way for us to commend him on a perfect meal and for him to connect with the guests for whom he had been passionately cooking. Barge East has certainly got their customer service right.
And Now To The Food……..
Taste of Barge 6-Course Tasting Menu £55 / Wine Pairing £44
(Dec 2023 – seasonal menu subject to change)
Tapas Style Starter
Buckwheat Cracker, Onion Lyonnaise, Chives.
This tasty bitesize offering to start our 6-course Taste of Barge journey was made with red onions and white wine vinegar placed on a buckwheat cracker with a sprinkling of chopped chives.
Seasonal Mushrooms, Sheep’s Labneh, Baby Leek, Juniper Pickled Onion, Soda Bread.
While the combination of mushrooms was tasty, my standout part of this dish was the pickled juniper onion!
Paired With: 2021 Orange Wine, Banat, Romania.
This wine had a delicate and refreshing flavour with a hint of orange, which worked well with the mushroom dish.
First Main Course
Pan Fried Skate, Langoustine Shell Oil, Romanesco, Shiso, Sauce Americaine.
The delicate flavour of the skate was complemented by the more punchy flavour of the Americaine sauce and was delicious.
My only disappointment was that the skate had not been de-boned, which I only discovered on my first mouthful.
On speaking to our server, Amore, she told me that the chef leaves the bones in as they are edible, and many people prefer the skate to be served that way. I think mentioning on the menu or verbally that it was boned would be good to prepare unexpecting guests like me.
Paired With: 2020 Pinot Gris, Vallee Noble, Jean-Marie Haag, Alsace, Eastern France.
I absolutely adored this smooth wine and will add it to my own Christmas Day family menu.
Second Main Course
Braised Ox Cheek, Beetroot, Hispi Cabbage, Brown Butter, Puffed Quinoa.
Paired With: 2019 Pech Sirech, Biodynamic, Cahors, France.
This entire dish was delicious, and while the ox cheek was enjoyable, both Mr P and I loved the cooked beetroot and sauce, which was so flavoursome and, for us, the stand-out ingredient.
I have to say I am not a lover of red wine. I have been wine-tasting in Beaune, Burgundy, and still couldn’t be swayed. However, this Pech Sirech was smooth and didn’t leave the harsh tannin aftertaste that puts me off many red wines, so maybe I could become a convert after all.
East London Sgroppino
Made with Italian lemon sorbet and a healthy glug of vodka, this palate cleanser hits all the right spots. Delicious!
Honey Cake, Plum, Camomile Honey Tuille, Mexican Marigold.
My sweet tooth was more than satisfied with the dessert on the 6-course Barge East tasting menu. The cake had a delicate honey flavour; you knew it was there, but it wasn’t overpowering. The cooked plums added a lovely fruity dimension to the dish.
Paired With: Vieira De Sousa Port, Portugal.
Vieira De Sousa is from the Duoro Valley and is produced by a 5th generation family of winemakers. It definitely has a good body and transported me back to my last visit to Porto, where I may have gone on one or two port-tasting tours!
As our unique dining adventure aboard Barge East ended, we both agreed that it had been a fabulous night. The setting, the staff and, of course, the star of the show – the food and wine – made our visit to this boat restaurant in London a memorable experience and one I would recommend.
So, if you want to dine somewhere out of the ordinary in East London’s ultra-hip neighbourhood of Hackney Wick, head to Barge East; you won’t be disappointed.
Getting to Barge East
Barge East is located along the River Lee, Sweetwater Mooring, 98 White Post Lane, Hackney Wick, East London. From Hackney Wick Overground Station, it is a 5-minute walk.
Barge East opening times: Monday – Friday, 4 pm until late / Weekends from 11 am until late.
Barge East Garden opening times: Friday 5 pm – 10 pm / Weekends from 11 am until 2 pm for a fantastic bottomless brunch in East London, staying open afterwards until late.
You can keep up-to-date on events by following @bargeast on Instagram.
Mr P and I were invited to dine aboard Barge East in return for this review; however, all views and opinions in this post are entirely my own.
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