Trip Kitchen of Haggerston, in the trendy London borough of Hackney, was one of the first ventures to open in the unoccupied arches off Dunston Street.
Since then Tonkotsu Ramen has followed suit, opening a second restaurant following their Soho branch, which indicates that there is something cooking under these old East London railway arches.
What we had not appreciated before our first visit to Trip Kitchen, is that nestled in the adjacent arch is Trip Space, the sister venue that plays host to various events mainly focused around interpretive dance. Not what you typically expect from a dining experience but hey it’s Hackney – anything’s possible…
For an evening venue Trip Kitchen has the ambience just right. On arrival the lighting was warm and inviting so that the vast volume of the space was in no way intimidating.
The all-encompassing terracotta brick arch gives a warm enclosed feeling, giving you a welcomed impression that you are concealed from the rest of London.
Central to the apex of the arch runs three lunar style pendants which dramatically fill the void and create a fantastic focal point to the restaurant. Multi-coloured framed utility chairs pepper the space of which there is plenty.
To the front of the restaurant there are large canteen style benches that help to transition the day time coffee trade to larger groups of night time diners.
All functional elements of the restaurant are dealt with simple and pragmatic details. Fluorescent strip lights are concealed by planks of reclaimed timber that run as a banner along the length of the tunnel. Ply tabletops are finished with linoleum, which sounds dated but actually provides a clean aesthetic and warm touch.
Even the menus arrived on functional clipboards with the daily printed culinary offers. The crockery had a crafted, Mediterranean feel with colourful glazes and hand-applied patterns.
The service was extremely friendly and very smiley; quick to offer information on the activities and events that happen in and around Trip Space.
The kitchen manages to stay fresh and vibrant due to the fact that they have temporary resident chefs. During our visit the acclaimed Selin Kiazim still held the reins and provided a delicious and accessible menu that was hard to choose from, as everything was enticing.
The menu read as being fairly meat centric with a Middle Eastern focus. However, no vegetarian could deny the success of their courgette and feta fritters – fantastic when paired with the lightly pan seared chicken livers!