The Laughing Heart
277 Hackney Road, E2 8NA
WLC Rank : 270
Glass from : £ 8.50 (125 ml)
BEST FORWines to take away
Overtly natural wines
The funky eatery wrought by Australian, Charlie Mellor (ex-Brawn, Elliot's and Primeur), The Laughing Heart, a ‘late night wine bar, dining room and off licence,’ takes its name from a self help poem by Charles Bukowski.
The funky eatery wrought by Australian, Charlie Mellor (ex-Brawn, Elliot’s and Primeur), The Laughing Heart, a ‘late night wine bar, dining room and off licence,’ takes its name from a self help poem by Charles Bukowski, who Time magazine called ‘laureate of American lowlife’.
Beginning with a quote from Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale – ‘by O, for a draught of vintage! that hath Cool’d a long age in the deep-delved earth,Tasting of flora and the country green, of Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!’ – the long and arguably very difficult wine list for diners other than those who are not doggedly scholarly evangelists of overtly natural wine, reads like a personal, and some could say, vanity, project.
With little information given by way of explanation of wines which are often clearly, or should that be, hazily, not for the faint-hearted, it is likely guests may be reaching for their smartphones provided they can get signal in the quest for elucidation. Indeed, the long digest alas seldom even features grape varieties. Helpfully, however, the circa 40 non red-intended wines subject to skin contact, such as Domaine Jean-Yves Péron’s Roche Blanche, are identified with an asterix.
Potentially seen as smallish, dishes by head chef, Tom Anglesea, may include tempura of sea kale, Speckle Faced mutton tortellini and broad beans, and Sichuan crème brûlée.
Watch your head on the low pendant lights, incidentally.
By Douglas Blyde.
The Laughing Heart was launched by Charlie Mellor (Brawn, Elliot’s) last year and prompted one reviewer to describe it as possibly the only good news to come from 2016
The food is brilliant. Not cheap, but brilliant. They do what they want, but they do it with skill and understated flair. If they want to put Peking duck on the menu, they will. If they feel love for prawn fried rice that will be added too, and will be the best prawn fried rice you’ve tasted.
Its wine list offers some of the best natural, minimal-intervention wines in the world. Such wines don’t come cheap, yet Mellor has shown a bold commitment to making these wines more accessible by setting margins almost as low as 60% for the bulk of what’s on offer (London average is 70%), with a basic £30 cash margin for the most expensive stuff.
You’ll find a great section of wines by the glass, which changes frequently, as does the main list. This is a restaurant worth discovering, with wine prices that make its discovery all the more attractive.