Craft beer and stone-baked pizzas on the waterfront
After a gold-tinted summer in which the Eastern corner of the capital has revelled in the spotlight of the Olympic and Paralympic games, attention is beginning to turn to the much-trumpeted “legacy” project that plans to continue the regeneration of this neglected part of London. While nearby Shoreditch has long been packed with heaving restaurants and bars, Hackney Wick is still in its relative infancy as a foodie destination. However, things already seem to be moving in the right direction.
Crate Brewery & Pizzeria has recently opened in The White Building, a new cultural space initiated and funded by the London Legacy Development Corporation, serving up what looks to be a well-judged pairing of craft beers and handmade stone-baked pizzas.
Set against a scenic canalside backdrop, the microbrewery is based in a former print factory, and is decked out in typically East London fashion, with reclaimed furniture and robust industrial fittings throughout. Even the bar has been constructed from old railway sleepers. The effect is considerable, the bar and restaurant area feeling pleasingly cosy, despite the cavernous space it occupies.
Crate is a brewery first and foremost, and the range of home-made brews on offer will please even the choosiest of beer enthusiasts. We sampled a hoppy Crate Lager and a full-bodied Golden Ale on our visit, while an Indian Pale Ale is also available under the Crate banner. The rest of the bar is stocked with a variety of speciality beers from craft breweries around the world, so those looking for something more exciting than the usual flavourless suspects are well catered for.
So then to the pizzas, baked in the open kitchen positioned just behind the bar area. At present, there are eight varieties to choose from, with toppings leaning towards the experimental. Sage & Truffle Potato and Laksa Chicken were proving popular choices when we visited, although there are a couple of more conventional options to keep the purists happy.
We ordered one Middle Eastern Lamb and one Spicy Salami, both of which were gargantuan in size. While sounding a little incongruous on paper, the lamb option was surprisingly good, the finely minced meat accompanied by a well-judged sprinkling of cumin and chilli. Our other choice was less inspiring, with slices of (admittedly excellent) salami failing to lift a fairly bland passata.
Being stone-baked, the bases and crusts lack the scorched, stretchy quality that only a wood-fired oven can provide, but they aren’t soggy, and stand up well to the generous toppings provided. You probably wouldn’t visit Crate on the strength of the pizzas alone, but as an accompaniment to some liquid refreshment, you won’t be disappointed. In fact, one pizza between two would be the perfect way to soak up the beer – they really are that filling.
Having done wonders with a neglected industrial location, Crate is a great place to drop in for a few drinks, with a buzzy, convivial atmosphere and lovely, waterside setting. And once you’ve tried each of the lovingly-crafted beers on offer, a pizza will probably be just what the doctor ordered…
1 Spicy Salami
1 Middle Eastern Lamb
2 pints of Crate Golden Ale
2 pints of Crate Lager
Crate Brewery & Pizzeria