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Chez Whyte's: Hackney’s Hottest New Opening

Previously a chef at the esteemed Brat and Scully, Instagram chef Whyte Rushen has now transitioned from working at pop-up venues to settling permanently on Mare Street in Hackney. Most of us foodies are already familiar with Rushen's online content—driven by his passion for daring and memorable tastes—and Chez Whyte's certainly delivers these flavors in Rushen's renowned humble smashed burgers along with other bold dishes typical of his previous pop-ups.


Chez Whyte's Menus (image courtesy of Hebe Hancock)


Announcing the inception of the restaurant via Instagram in November, Rushen said: “So I’ve kept this a bit quiet aint I, but after a long, long road travelled, years of pop ups, events and takeovers, working with an insane roster of chefs, restaurants, brands and establishments all whilst serving the masses, and hopefully having made a few people happy along the way, we’re finally settling down. It’s with a mix of every emotion humanly available, excitement, pride, anxiety, fear, joy and all the rest, that I can finally announce, we’ve found a site, a restaurant, a hub, a home in Hackney”.

 

This month, the establishment is embracing a French theme—even adopting the name ‘Chez Whytes’ for the occasion. Diners can anticipate indulging in frog legs, oysters, and, naturally, freshly baked baguettes while immersed in the vibrant beats of French hip hop music. Whyte crafts dining experiences that are focused equally on atmosphere and culinary excellence (as exemplified by his globally curated wine list).


With a front-row seat to my meal preparation, I was seated at the bar, which curves around the open kitchen. With every seat filled on a late Wednesday evening, it has already become a bustling spot. With an ambiance of warmth and charm, complemented by the soft glow of the candles placed on every table, its popularity certainly comes as no surprise. The service was similarly outstanding; our exceptionally friendly waitress treated my partner (who was celebrating a birthday) and me to glasses of bubbly.

 

Regarding the food, we began with a freshly baked baguette and salted butter accompanied by a smattering of cornichons. Although this may sound deceivingly simple, it was so delicious that we ordered a second round before devouring the salt and pepper frog legs. Though the legs themselves were wonderfully meaty, it was the sauce (that I ate with a spoon) that truly stole the show. Lastly, we sampled one of Rushen’s famously unique combinations: oyster and snail rockefeller, which was topped with monster munch and aged comté cheese. These playful fusions may seem amusing, but they do work as this was certainly the most flavourful oyster that I’ve ever had.


The Oysters (image courtesy of Hebe Hancock)


After deliberating over the next portion of the menu, we eventually settled on three more dishes: the black and white sausage with cassoulet beans, foie gras nuggets with a poached pear sauce, and BBQ onglet with caper and peppercorn mustard, grape mustard, and fries. Since the restaurant promotes sharing plates, we also added a vanilla braised endive salad with smoked almonds and blue cheese (for health, of course). There were so many layers to the flavour combinations of each dish, and if there’s one thing that Rushen does well, it’s his sauces, each of which was brimming with flavour and enveloping the dishes’ components perfectly. 


My personal favourite was the bean and sausage dish, which was warming, homely, and perfectly cooked. Pushing the boundaries of flavour and rejecting everything we think we know about pairing ingredients, this restaurant simply doesn’t care about typical food conventions. 


BBQ Onglet (image courtesy of Hebe Hancock)

Although we’d planned on ending the evening with pudding, we were too stuffed to even sample Rushen's namesake: his version of an indulgent white Russian Cocktail. On offer was a chocolate crémeux (a fancy mousse) served with bay leaf oil and sea salt, but at this point, everyone at the restaurant was treated to a ‘Hooker’s Toothbrush’: a brilliantly inventive shot of mint liqueur and soda water. It was this that made it feel like we were dining among friends. 

 

My only criticism is that the restaurant often became quite smoky due to the open kitchen. However, it certainly won't stop me from returning. I feel that Chez Whyte's is one of the only truly original restaurants in London, and tempted by their menu that changes every month, I’ll definitely be running back. 

 

You can find Whyte's at Unit 3, 143 Mare Street, E8 3RH. Follow this link for reservations



 

 

Edited by Trisha D. Gupta, Co-Food and Drink Editor

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