The Field in Hackney, Plant based cuisine

Jun 21, 18 The Field in Hackney, Plant based cuisine

When I was in my twenties, I was a rather strict vegetarian, almost bordering on vegan but that was when I lived in Asia (3 years) and it was a fairly easy thing to do. I stuck to it until I went back to the States and once I smelled bacon, that was it for me. I answered the siren call of bacon and pretty much never looked back.

Forward to now and lately, I’ve been thinking about where exactly my food comes from and what effect it has on me and the planet. Not to mention, I seem to know a lot of vegetarians and vegans now. So, moving to a plant based diet and cutting way down on my meat consumption was something definitely on my mind when I received an invitation to visit The Field in Hackney.

pizza oven and bar of The Field

The Field is run by two friends, chefs Nik Willimason and Ryan Petty. Both chefs have extensive experience working in Michelin starred restaurants in London and Nik has penned a book, The Grain Bowl as well as opening The Porridge Cafe in London.

Chefs Ryan (L) and Nik (R)

Nik and Ryan have now turned their hands to creating plant based menus where vegetables are the stars and meat is a side dish. Ryan said that this concept is something that they have been wanting to do for ages, where the animal product is a side dish. He feels that many people think that a meal is not complete without meat on the plate. They want to show that you don’t need meat in order to have a satisfying meal…”Meat is not necessary but it is a part of our lives…” Ryan noted. They do offer, depending on the day, 2 of the following; beef, chicken, fish or pork as an accompaniment to the main veggie dishes. The quantities are limited and they use the best organic meats available, HT Walters for the meats and Wild Wake for the fish.

Nik and Ryan have been developing new cookery techniques to work with vegetables as they want to explore all the possibilities of plant based cooking. They are not trying to imitate meat, they believe that the plant based movement should stop trying to imitate meat and, instead, innovate.

Well, I was ready to tuck in. I’m rather new to vegan cuisine so I brought along a vegan friend of mine to get her verdict on the food. AND, I was opting for vegan, no side of meat for me, thank you very much.

The Field menu is based around courses, so you have a choice of 3 or 5 courses, reasonably priced at £26 for 3 courses and £32 for 5 courses. There is a supplement for the meat, between £5 – £6. Being gluttons, we went for the vegan 5 courses.

An amuse bouche of mushroom pate, beetroot hummous and tomato consomme was very tasty, the mushroom pate being intensely smoky and flavourful. The wine and beer list are also vegan. I had an organic, unfiltered prosecco to start – nice and dry, just the way I like my prosecco.

amuse bouche – mushroom pate

Aspargus tips in a puree was subtle and creamy. This was due to the cocoa butter that was used in the puree, my vegan friend was not so keen on it because of the creaminess but she said it was tasty nonetheless. I liked it! Paired with a Folle Blanche from Pierre Luneau-Papin, a complement to the asparagus,which can often be tricky to do.

Asparagus tips

Housemade vegan Agnolotti stuffed with cabbage, silken tofu, nutritional yeast, red amaranth, orange and finished with parsley and mint oil. An explosion of flavour – creamy and rich with a citrus kick to it. My vegan friend pronounced it rich but everything went well together and her palate was not overpowered by the richness. Again paired with the Folle Blanche. Sometimes folle blanche can be dull but this one was nicely balanced between fruit and acidity.

Agnoletti

The main of Surf and Turf was a slab of celeraic that had been roasted and finished with a crust of olive and nori skin, topped with enoki mushrooms – one of my favourite mushrooms. There was also a liberal amount of seaweed to season the dish which gives it a high iron content. This dish was strongly reminiscent of the sea in flavour, like nothing I’ve ever had before, the texture was like a steak, surprisingly, something my vegan friend didn’t really like but hey, there you go.

Surf & Turf

Next we had Roasted Cauliflower with caramelized yeast, cumin jus and pickled cauliflower. This was a heavy dish, rich and deep in flavour, the jus was sweet but rich and contrasted nicely with the pickled veg. The flavours were intense, I don’t think I could have eaten another, very umami-ish. My vegan friend really liked the texture of this dish as well as the flavour combinations.

Roasted Cauliflower

tucking in…

A granita of strawberry and cucumber to cleanse the palate.

Strawberry and cucumber granita

and then dessert, Sweet Corn Custard and Lion’s Mane tart. Both of us were intrigued by the Lion’s Mane part of the dessert. Was it a dressing, was it real hair? Turns out, it is mushroom that is naturally sweet. The Field guys created a shortbread base and then sweet corn custard on top, dusted with the Lion’s Mane, topped with caramelized popcorn. It was light and tasty. Delish!

Lion’s Mane and Sweet Corn Custart

So after 5 courses, we were stuffed! I couldn’t have eaten another bite. I also didn’t miss meat as part of the meal. There were so many different and tasty food combos going on, that it wasn’t until we were almost finished that it dawned on me that we had only been eating veggies.

Well done, Field guys – you convinced me that meat needn’t be the star of any meal. Big kudos from my vegan friend, she said it was probably some of the best vegan food she’s ever had in a restaurant.

They are now serving a cracking Brunch on Sunday as well, so don’t miss it! Even if you’ve never considered eating a purely vegan meal, you have to try The Field. If you are a vegan, lucky you, a fabulous new place in Hackney to add to your list.

The Field is open:

Wednesday to Saturday
Lunch 11.00 to 15.00
Dinner 18.00 to 22.30

Sunday
Brunch 11.00 to 19.00

Monday and Tuesday Closed

I was a guest of The Field and all opinions are my own (and my vegan friend’s).

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