Hot on the heels of Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Bordeaux, Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro, Prague, Belgrade and Toulouse (phew!), comes Mama Shelter London, on East London’s Hackney Road.
The hotel & restaurant has a unique style, fusing vintage hanging lamps with dark wooden interiors, pops of coloured macramé and Liberty prints. The chalkboard ceilings are adorned with graffiti, while table football and a giant in-built Twister board provide further entertainment.
We were here to check out the restaurant specifically – a huge space complete with an island bar and outdoor courtyard with a retractable glass roof – you’ll know where to find us next summer.
The menu centres around generous family-style sharing dishes, with ingredients, inspirations and flavours taken from around the globe. It’s a pretty informal menu, with the likes of pizzas, burgers and fish and chips alongside more substantial whole grilled seabass, 35 day aged Hereford ribeye and aubergine parmigiana.
Once orders are taken, homemade rosemary focaccia is bought to the table in a skillet, on the house, by the friendly front of house team.
We kicked off with super delicious, veggie-friendly cauliflower and potato samosas, served with a thick date chutney & tamarind dipping sauce, as recommended by our waitress. Alongside that, an elegant plate of tuna crudo – ultra thinly sliced, topped with kohlrabi, ponzu and calamansi (otherwise known as the Philippine lime) dressing. Sharp, tangy and spot on.
The jerk-spiced black bean burger was more filling than it looked, layered with lettuce, avocado, banana ketchup and some of the best sweet potato fries in town. Garlic mayo and extra banana ketchup were requested for double-dipping. From the kebab section, portions are filling. We only managed half of our lamb shawarma – charred, sometimes fatty pieces of meat are scattered on a large circular bread, zig-zagged with garlic mayo, and spiked with super spicy guindilla peppers.
There are also little nods to its current East London location. Good ol’ pie, mash & liquor for example, as well as an East London iced platter with produce from the Essex coast, including mersea oysters, crayfish and jellied eels.
There’s an exciting little cocktail list – try the Hackney Riveria with rum and pineapple or the ‘When Ruby met Tommy’ – a blend of tequila, Campari, grapefruit, lime and pink pepper. The wine list is really decent too – we had an excellent and well-priced, natural grüner veltliner whilst we were there.
Digging deep we found room for sticky toffee pudding, honeycomb and vanilla ice-cream. This is proper comfort food you struggle to stand up from. No wonder they offer rooms to spend the night.
At weekends, MAMA’s signature ‘Sunday Spread’ brunch will provide a self-serve feast alongside live music sets – a favourite across all Mama Shelter properties.
Downstairs, Japanese-style karaoke rooms are decked out with pinball machines, retro video games, and classic 50s-style microphones and are available to hire for groups. You can also create personal souvenirs of your Mama Shelter experience with the photo and video booths.
A place to socialise, celebrate, eat, drink and be merry, we reckon Mama Shelter London will settle into East London life nicely.