The Hackney Pearl

The Hackney Peal is a fantastic cafe/restaurant/bar in the creative hub that is Hackney Wick. It’s been in this spot for almost a year now and recently won Time Out’s award for Best New Cafe. I caught up with owner James Morgan to ask him a few questions:

Hackney Pearl tea, by ewebber

Why did you open the Pearl?

I’ve been working in other people’s restaurants for 20 years. It was time to open my own.  I wanted to open in London the kind of place I missed from Sydney & Melbourne. In London, you usually go to a cafe, a pub or a restaurant for different things, in Australia (& many places in Europe for that matter), the boundaries are often less distinct. I want the Pearl to be a place where people can feel equally comfortable popping in for a coffee or a beer, working their way through the cocktail list or joining a group of friends to share a fantastic meal.

Hackney Pearl Kitchen, by ewebber

Why Hackney Wick?

Several reasons-
a. I’ve lived in & loved Hackney for almost 10 years.
b. I like industrial landscapes.
c. I’m an artist as well as a cook. I thought I might fit in down here. And I do love my customers.
d. It’s an exciting place to be. It’s like the air we breathe in Hackney Wick is charged with creativity. I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be.

Hackney Pearl by alexpink

Tell me about your guest chefs?

For one night every other month I hand over the kitchen to a young and talented chef. Chefs usually spend many years cooking other people’s menus before having a chance to try out their own ideas, so we give them an opportunity to run the show for once. The idea came from Blake Bowden, a talented young Australian chef (and friend) with whom I worked at St. John. The nights are always exciting and almost always full. The standard of food has been outstanding at all the events.

Hackney Pearl Brunch by ewebber

Do you have any events coming up you want to mention?

Yes there are two things coming up:

Our next guest chef night on Thursday November 18th promises to be the most exciting yet. Maria Espada and Carlos Monleon are both chefs and artistic collaborators from Madrid. The menu sounds incredible. (Its on our website).

December at the Hackney Pearl is going to be wonderful. I’ve been road testing some dishes from the Christmas menu this week and getting great feedback. It’s also on the website. We have Damson Gin and Mulled Cider and Zoltan and I will be working on a few new warming and festive cocktails this week. It’s the Pearl’s first birthday on the 11th December. We’re officially celebrating in January, but I’m sure the odd cork will be popped on the day. But the apex comes on December 16th which is my son Max’s 1st birthday.

Anything else you want to add?

We’ve had a great year so far! I have an amazing team. I feel so lucky and very proud.

The Hackney Pearl website is here: You can also find the Hackney Pearl are on Twitter and Facebook

Photos by ewebber and alexpink


  1. If anyone want to join us for christmas dinner @ The Hackney Pearl – let me know here

  2. I have to say that the Pearl is a real gem. Its both individual and refreshing. And being a little further out means you get a better crowd in my opinion.
    The food is incredible and the service friendly. They also have a great selection of drinks, including cocktails and square mile coffee. I can’t wait for December!

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