If you ever walk along the long, thin canal in the middle of Hackney Wick, it’s hard not to notice the towering industrial structure that is Here East, opposite a row of suburban semi-detached houses. After living nearby for over a year, I’m still none the wiser on what Here East is, apart from housing a collection of small independent restaurants.
Our first visit to Randy’s Wing Bar was in the height of summer last year, when groups of friends laughed over ciders and cyclists perched on loungers in the sun. We had liked the food, but portion size was a bit of an issue. So we delayed another trip until the middle of winter, when it was a slightly deserted Friday night in Hackney Wick – not that you could tell in the packed restaurant.
Randy (whoever Randy is) has gone for a lo-fi aesthetic in his wing bar – wooden slab tables, metal buckets to chuck your wing bones in and my favourite feature – kitchen roll to clean you up. I always appreciate entertainment at a restaurant; this one had large Connect Four sets in the corner (hopefully not to play whilst you have sticky fingers).
This restaurant is probably a no-no for vegetarians out there – that’s unless you like onion bhajis in a bun (aptly titled The Argy Bhaji). But if you aren’t, there are many other aptly titled wings and chicken burgers in their simply laid out menu.
“Can I have The Big Cock please?”
I think I’m still of an age where I can get away with giggling at names, like the title of their original burger. We shared The Big Cock (couldn’t help myself), the Hanoi wings and Buffalo wings.
I have to say, I’m not a big wings person – I often find they’re overcooked or greasy and I’m far too lazy to eat them. But they know how to cook wings right at this place – whether it’s smothered in creamy, spicy, tangy Buffalo sauce (with a splash of truffle blue cheese sauce), or delicately battered with the sweet sour flavours of the Hanoi wings.
Portion size was no longer a problem this time around (they must have realised that £7.5 is unreasonable for 5-6 wings) and they did not wuss out on the flavours and heat. I only felt that a dip for the wings was missing, but that may be due to my being spoilt at home with the various dips Harpall likes to produce on a near daily basis.
I only had a bite of the burger, but I noted two things apart from the fact that it tasted great – 1) they put adequate amounts of gherkin across the chicken *applause*, 2) the brioche bun is exactly what a soft, milky brioche bun should taste like (take note burger chains).
We rounded up our meal with rounds of drinks – and they don’t do too badly on this front either. Special shoutout to the Espresso Martini – you make me want to drink coffee. It’s also worth noting that they do brunch at Randy’s Wing Bar.. so if you’re ever sloth-ing around East London one morning after a night out, it’s worth a shout. It looks like a killer brunch menu.