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Empress lives on Lauriston Road right next to Vicky Park. Having recently been taken over the pub now boasts Elliott Lidstone as its Head Chef, who brings over 12 years experience in Michelin starred kitchens to the diners of East London.

It’s a cool and quirky place with exposed brick work behind the bar, framed pictures, a comfy red booth and some mismatch furniture. On a night when the sun is still high and its warm enough to sit outside you can dine on the pavement and watch village life. The menu tackles some creative, exciting dishes that you won’t find in the other pubs close by. It’s seasonal and changes pretty often, all of the meat, fish and bread is purchased from local suppliers.

We let Mr Lidstone take control of our ordering and we’re treated to a selection of showcased dishes. First up were the Pigs Ears; small, crispy strips of pork crackling served in a paper cone (full marks on the menu recycling!) accompanied with a sweet apple sauce. These were followed by Pearl Barley and Cauliflower Risotto with hazelnuts – for us this was the winning dish – we really must order risotto more often! Creamy, yet light with a real depth of flavour, the crunchy hazelnuts were a great contrast to the smooth texture.

As with the food we let the knowledgable Bar Maid match us up some wines, the Hungarian Pinot Noir and Guggenheim Chardonnay, perfect for a Summers Eve. Moving on to the Roast Quail which was a perfectly cooked bird, so tender the meat fell off its little bones. Served on top of a Chargrilled spring salad made up of lentils, carrots and baby gem lettuce served warm with a nice smokey flavour.

To finish the Baked cheesecake and blood orange came recommended, a small slab of smooth, creamy cheesecake served with sticky sweet orange sauce and salty crunchy clusters – we thought they were nuts but we’re still not sure.

Most of the dishes are available as a starter size, which means you can do the whole tapas shebang and prices are pretty reasonable too. We can’t recommend The Empress enough – great decor, lovely food and a healthy drinks list (note to self – we will go back for a Pineapple Bellini).

The Empress, 130 Lauriston Road, Victoria Park, E9