Test Driving Oren - a warm fug of hospitality on Dalston's Shacklewell Lane

oren restaurant review dalston londonCounter dining at the convivial Oren in Dalston

So what do we need to know about Oren?

For starters, there's been quite the buzz about the opening of this new Dalston restaurant. Chef/owner Oden Oren has been quietly building the fanbase for his cooking while at Louie Louie and then in a series of residencies across town. Now he's set up a permanent home here in the spot where Floyd's used to be.

Where exactly is it?

You'll find it on Shacklewell Lane in Dalston - less than ten minutes walk from Dalston Kingsland station.

Where should we meet friends for a drink first?

Handily there are two recommended spots for a drink nearby. First off is the Shacklewell Arms which has a cracking beer list and is on the way from the station to the restaurant. And then, even closer, is Brewer's Bar which is an eclectic little bar set in a old butcher's shop.

Where should we sit?

As with any smallish London restaurant, they've made good use of the space here, so take your pick from either counter seating up at the bar or at one of the other tables. It's pretty cosy (although they're going to need to get a curtain over that door as the winter progresses).

What sort of food is it?

Oren says it's food "inspired from my home (in Tel Aviv) and the Mediterranean using local and sustainable produce". The menu's split into the now familiar mix of snacks, small and large plates with the latter two ranging in price from £6 to £19.80 when we went.

Here's what we had:

oren restaurant review dalston londonStone baked flatbread with tomato and olive oil (£3.50) - on the face of it a very simple dish but here the bread is smoky and wonderfully chewy and god know where they found tomatoes that tasted this good at this time of year.

oren restaurant review dalston londonBurnt aubergine with Mount Gerizim tahini (£4.80) - comes cold, but we were prepared for that. Another one to add to a long list of lovely aubergine dishes we've enjoyed this year.

oren restaurant review dalston londonLamb sweetbreads with za'atar and lemon (£4.50) - as you may know by now, we find it hard to miss sweetbreads when they're on the menu. 

oren restaurant review dalston londonFish kebab - wild hake with fresh herbs, watercress salad and sheep's yoghurt (£12.50)

oren restaurant review dalston londonOne of their signature dishes (and two of our favourite things) Ox cheek and hummus (£13.50)

What about vegetarians?

On a short menu, a whole section is devoted to vegetarian and vegan dishes - and three of the five snacks were veggie too. We really enjoyed the fennel dish below and - if we'd had room - would have also wanted to try the grilled hispi cabbage with romesco and raw tahini that we've seen a lot of on Instagram.

oren restaurant review dalston londonShaved fennel and kohlrabi with barrel-aged feta (£6.80) - a combination of textures that was both delicious and made you feel virtuous on knocking out two of your five a day in one dish.

Do they do dessert?

They do. There were three choices on the menu and we had two of them - a very nice combo of Neal's Yard Corra Linn raw sheep's cheese and membrillo (£7) and this...

oren restaurant review dalston londonLemon polenta cake with soured whipped cream (£6.50) - now we're pretty good at making polenta cake but even we have to admit that this was beyond our own decent skills. A very good dessert indeed.

What should we be drinking?

Any wine list devised by Zeren Wilson is pretty much guaranteed to be of interest. Here we really enjoyed the natural French chardonnay Swimming Poule - not least for its name (£36). Wines by the glass start at £7 with the priciest wine on the list a USA Syrah from SKY vineyards at £47. There's also an interesting cocktail list too - if you need pepping up you might want to try the cold-filtered coffee Campari (£7).

oren restaurant review dalston londonThe cold-filtered coffee Campari is a perfect way to finish the meal, the coffee flavour really cuts through (£7)

Overall thoughts:

Clearly Oren has built up a loyal fanbase over his many residencies - a lot of whom were there when we visited which was nice to see. It's a lovely neighbourhood spot - warm and welcoming - and the food right now is precisely what you'd want on a cold winter's day. An East London hit.

Hot Dinners ate as guests of Oren. Prices are correct at the time of writing. 


More about Oren

Where is it? 89 Shacklewell Ln, Dalston, London E8 2EB

Find out moreVisit their website or follow them on Instagram @orenlondon


Subscribe to be the first to get the news from Hot Dinners

By signing up you agree to our privacy policy.