Ombra is a canal-side Italian restaurant in Hackney offering indoor and outdoor dining, and a menu of antipasti and freshly made pasta, spritz and fresh crisp wines.

What a joy and privilege it was to visit for my first post lock-down eat in restaurant. I don’t know if it was the absence of it all the last few month, the alfresco seating in lovely weather, or the sunset that spread across the sky in dramatic (almost romantic) hues of reds and pinks but everything felt so much sweeter. Heightened, and I was definitely ready for it.

The staff were lovely and welcoming, you could certainly feel their smiles behind their face masks. They gave us a spritz of hand sanitiser on entry and then more importantly an Aperol Spritz, which we ordered on arrival as a priority.

The menus are all able to be scanned and viewed on our phones to limit contact and we were sat outside so we all felt very comfortable at the safety precautions and the ability to be distanced from the other guests.

We began with focaccia, grissini and extra virgin olive oil (£2pp), fried friggitelli peppers (£4) and gnocco fritto and spec (£2ea). If you know me at all you will know that I adore bread and the focaccia did not disappoint, the only disappointing thing was the necessity to politely share it with other people, when I could have easily shoveled it all into my own mouth. The peppers were sweet with a kick, heightened by a liberal sprinkle of salt, the gnocco fritto puffed to perfection.

Antipasti, I stole grilled mackerel with corno peppers and chard (£8.5) of someone else’s plate, and ordered the beetroot with burrata. I especially enjoyed the combination of creamy burrata with the slightly piquant roasted beetroot, the flavours were subtle but also well rounded. The mackerel I enjoyed before I even tried it. Eating with your eyes is definitely a thing.

By far the hero of the meal was the in house freshly made pasta. I ordered the Ravioli, sheep ricotta, lovage and summer truffle (£19.5) which was cooked to perfection. The sauce with shaved truffle was buttery and luscious, and the sheep’s ricotta and lovage filling added to the richness of the dish.

It’s not dinner without dessert. We shared the Panna cotta, English strawberries and Grappa di Bassano (£7) and the custard and Trehane farm blueberry tart (£7). The panna cotta was my favourite of the two. A delightful combination of boozy, fruity and velvety.

The evening unquestionably reminded me how lucky I am to be able to share a delicious meal with friends, and that it is impudent to take these lovely restaurant experiences for granted.

It’s so important to support our local restaurants, bars and suppliers so that they can continue to bring joy, and feed us going forward.

Ombra – One Vyner Street, E2 9DG

Book via the website HERE



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