Martello towers were small forts dotted around Britain’s coast to ward off invaders. Martello Hall in Hackney is a lot more welcoming. You’d be fighting to hole up in here should it all kick off. While it’s not often a pub can be all things to all people, Martello Hall gives it a good go with a restaurant out back and a gin bar/comfy lounge (depending on what time day it is) up its squat-chic stairs.
For brunch, it’s the perfect Hackney hole - away from the hipster crush of Broadway Market and roomy enough for you to be a little bit too loud after several of their eco-friendly wines on tap.
We visited on a weekend when the Italian influenced brunch was in full flow. Huge steaming sourdough pizzas are whisked out of the wood-fired oven in front of your eyes, while crispy fried buttermilk chicken comes with jalapenos and watermelon, the only way to have it in 2017. There’s no getting away from the fact this is comfort food not clean eating but each dish tastes fresh - probably because most of the ingredients haven’t had to travel far.
The restaurant buys in its charcuterie from Bermondsey and bread from Hackney’s The Bread Station literally round the corner. Bread is a much loved thing at Martello Hall, you can even get a supply of bottomless toast (with lashings of local jam) for ₤3.50 during the week. And don’t miss the corner hatch which also sells homemade sausage rolls by the inch.
While Martello Hall certainly has a good craft beer line-up and even makes its own gin on-site, the wines on tap are the real draw. There are a dozen to choose from and an organic English white was crisp, dry and the perfect way to kick off a lazy Saturday.
Drift between a mismatched lounge upstairs, the front bar and back restaurant. The Victorian pub’s high ceilings and squat-meets-mid-century modernist style (think plaster walls with artfully placed distressed retro metal chairs) means it kind of feels right to crack into the wine no matter what time you rock up.
Wines on tap mean no wastage, so there’s nothing to recycle. Not even old wine.
Each reusable steel keg used eliminates the equivalent carbon emissions of a car taken off the road for two years.
Local suppliers mean less transport emissions, the guys walk to get their daily bread.
Martello Hall is open from breakfast to bedtime, which is a stretch for a pub-restaurant but the the rattle-y, stripped back Victorian space makes it work. It also has a great offer for all the area’s hot-deskers and digital nomads during the day - unlimited coffee and sofa space for ₤10. Bargain.
Find Martello Hall at 137 Mare St, London. Head for London Fields station or Hackney Central Overground. Some of you might recognise the corner location on Mare St - it was the ill-fated London Fields Brewery pub.
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