Last Updated on January 31, 2024
La Bibliothèque, where culinary artistry meets literary charm
Hackney is full of surprises. La Bibliothèque which opened in October 2023 is an elegant and sophisticated restaurant serving high-class food and drink with Mediterranean and Japanese influences. It has a bar with a whisky library and upstairs a boutique hotel with three stylish rooms. Next door is their sister venue the MAP Maison – a cosmopolitan cocktail bar. They also have a restaurant in Stockholm – MAP Petite Maison. It’s the sort of place you might find in Paris or Berlin, rather than on Kingsland Road, which is more famous for its Vietnamese restaurants.
The interior of this cosy, lowly lit Haggerston restaurant is a whimsical fusion of culinary delight and literary charm, with an earthy green panelled wall, a wooden parquet floor, marble tabletops, handsome leather banquettes and tapestry upholstered bucket chairs with smoked glass mirrors and contemporary art adorning the walls.
Glass cabinets showcase classic books and bottles of sake, and a double bass commands the spotlight, infusing the space with vibrant, energetic notes. At the back is an open-plan kitchen with a countertop bar. Here you can watch the chefs at work whilst enjoying a tipple of whiskey or an innovative cocktail.
The menu is crafted by Head Chef James Mayle, whose culinary journey includes notable establishments like Simon Rogan’s Fera at Claridge’s, The Dairy in Clapham, Relae in Copenhagen, The Dysart in Petersham, and the acclaimed Le Du in Thailand (Asia’s 50 Best). The seasonal à la carte menu offers diners with a blend of both classic and experimental dishes.
The drinks selection is equally original and refreshing, featuring an array of distinct cocktails and a premium selection of spirits, notably focusing on gin, fine wines, sake, and whiskies.
My gin and vodka Vesper Martini was on point – beautifully chilled and delicately perfumed, with citrus notes and a subtle sweetness from Lillet Blanc. My companion chose one of their signature cocktails – the Honshin, a combo of 135 East Hygo Gin, Akashi Tay Honjozo Sake with La Tomato Liqueur – served in a sake glass with a strong tomato top note at front, followed by sake and deep, rich umami notes.
Before we’d even sat down, I noted the gorgeous-looking loaves of sweet sugar-glazed milk bread on the kitchen bar, later served at the table with lightly whipped black sesame, miso, and shallot butters – sensationally good!
My starter hummed with soul, character, and intention – Kombu lamb shoulder braised for 24 hours in light kombucha, accompanied by a lightly whipped onion soubise fermented and negi onion, served with textural crisp shards of roasted Roscoff onion and pickled wakame seaweed.
My companion’s rich seared squares of soft bluefin tuna, with crisp slivers of nashi pear and Tokyo turnip, were lifted by the acidity of the grapefruit and yuzu ponzu.
On to the mains. The Baked Potato Ravioli looked magnificent, bathed in a leek purée with crispy leek and black truffle – a rich, unctuous mouthful elevated by the exquisite essence of truffle and rich egg yolk bursting out of the ravioli.
The perfect flaky white Turbot was elegantly poised on juicy oyster mushrooms, with buttery artichoke, ginger, and yuzu jus.
Dessert was something to relish – Tunworth gelato with Italian black truffle and balsamic. These three wonderful ingredients created a heavenly combo that allowed you to savour the creamy sweetness of the balsamic, the lactic tang of Tunworth, and the richness of the truffle.
The beetroot cake was light and fluffy with a slight sourness, while the cherry blossom barbecued plums provided an unusual, but tasty and earthy element to the dish. Served alongside was a whipped yoghurt parfait that added a touch of mild sweetness.
La Bibliothèque has effortlessly found its rhythm, offering a warm and inviting atmosphere paired with exceptionally good food – a delightful blend of both simple and complex flavour unions. Don’t miss out; make your way to Haggerston!
For Valentine’s La Bibliothèque is offering a very special six-course feast crafted by the restaurant’s expert chefs.
Available to Book on the 14th of February between 6 pm and 10:15 pm, Priced at just £110 per person, guests will start the evening with the restaurant’s renowned Milk Bread, before indulging in everything from Beetroot Tarte Tatin to Stuffed Guinea Fowl, BBQ Monkfish and Aged Fillet and ending their romantic evening on a high with Chocolate Trianon. Guests will also be greeted with a welcome glass of Champagne making their celebration even more special.
325 Kingsland Rd, London E8 4DL